Cingular Dangles Mobile Coupons for Customers

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Cingular Wireless is offering customers a new service: electronic coupons and discounts.

Customers can download the application, developed by San Jose, CA-based Cellfire and launched nationally last month, from Cellfire.com and enter their mobile phone numbers. Once downloaded, customers can browse discount offers from participating establishments such as T.G.I. Friday’s, Hollywood Video, Bath & Body Works, Carlson Travel and 1-800-Flowers.com. To redeem the offers, customers press “use now” and show the coupon to a cashier. For example, one deal includes a rent-one-get-one-free movie from Hollywood Video.

In March, a test was conducted by Phoenix-based Main Street Restaurant Group, Inc., a T.G.I. Friday’s franchisee, which featured two promotions in 30 of its California establishments. With the coupon, customers got a free appetizer or $5 off a purchase of $15 or more. To date, 700 coupons have been redeemed, said Judy Schumacher, VP-marketing, Main Street.

Cingular promotes the service on its Web site.

“When you do a direct mail piece you’re lucky if you have a 1% to 3% redemption rate; we’re looking at a number higher than that,” she said.

Given the test’s success, the company expanded the promotions to all of its 57 locations in six states (New Mexico, Nevada, California, Arizona, Kansas and Nebraska). Main Street pays Cellfire a $1 fee each time a coupon is redeemed.

“This represents a real wave of the future to us,” Schumacher said. “It’s an innovative and incredibly impactful way for reaching a certain demographic of people who spend an inordinate among of time on their cell phones.”

1-800-Flowers.com is offering discounts via a promotional code that appears on Cingular customers’ cell phones and is called in to a discount when placing an order.

“This is our first program we’ve done in the mobile space,” said Tania Nemaric, assistant manager of brand communications, 1-800-Flowers.com. “It’s been pretty successful for us… and we can see how effective it is in affecting more sales and building a relationship between the customer and our brand.”

Meanwhile, Cellfire plans to continue to grow the portfolio of companies and wireless carriers that use the mobile application, said Brent Dursing, CEO, Cellfire.

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