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    May 4, 2012 // 2:45 PM

    New Facebook Coupon Feature Helps Local Businesses Determine Social ROI

    Written by Pamela Vaughan | @

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    Are you aware that, according to research from ExactTarget, 58% of Facebook users expect to receive discounts or promotions when they 'like' a business page? Well yesterday, Facebook started making it a lot easier for marketers to give the people what they want. And now brick-and-mortar local businesses have another smart reason to use Facebook. Coupons!

    Yesterday, Facebook rolled out its new Offers product to all local business pages in the U.S. -- a feature that allows marketers to create coupons to share on their timeline. For free! Page fans can then share the offers with their friends, which can be redeemed at the local business' brick and mortar location. Previously available for a select group of brand page testers, TechCrunch reports that the tool is now accessible for all US local businesses on Facebook.

    While the feature is only available in the U.S. for now, Facebook plans to roll it out to other countries in the future.

    How to Create a Facebook 'Offer'

    Before everyone gets excited, it's important to note that only business pages that are categorized as a 'local business' will have access to the new feature. In other words, in your page's settings, under 'Basic Information,' your page category needs to be set to 'Local Businesses & Places,' and an appropriate sub-category needs to be specified. This means that unless you're a local business, you won't have access to the new feature.

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    If your business is, in fact, a local one, then you'll find the new functionality right within the normal composer tool on your page's timeline. The first time you click to create an offer, a tour of the new functionality will launch.

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    And this is what the Offer editor will look like:

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    Anatomy of a Facebook Offer

    1. A Headline: The headline is basically the main offer. Think of it as a call-to-action, and use strong language that clearly explains what the value of the offer is for the user. In the example above, for instance, the headline is "Buy one pair of socks, get another pair free." Facebook recommends providing a discount of at least 20% off or more for the best performance.
    2. A Thumbnail: You can also upload an image with your offer, which is displayed with the offer text as a 90 x 90 pixel thumbnail. For best results, upload a square image that won't get cropped when Facebook resizes it to fit the thumbnail. Facebook also recommends using an image that represents the product/service you're promoting -- or people using that product/service -- rather than your company logo.
    3. A Redemption Limit: You can choose to limit the number of coupons that can be redeemed by choosing a number from the dropdown, or you can make it 'Unlimited.'
    4. An Expiration Date: You can also specify the day on which the offer will expire. Facebook recommends giving people at least a few days to find and claim the offer. This also allows you to leverage word-of-mouth promotion, since you'll be giving fans enough time to share the offer among their friends, and for those friends to claim and redeem it.
    5. Terms & Conditions: This is where you can include more details about the offer. Facebook recommends making terms and conditions as simple as possible.

    You can also preview and make changes to the offer before publishing it to your timeline. Facebook also recommends marketers alert their staff about the offer they're promoting and train them on how to handle redemptions. This way, there are no misunderstandings or confusion during the customers' coupon redemption process.

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    The User Experience

    When you publish a Facebook Offer to your page's timeline, visitors of your page will be able to click "Get Offer" on the offer to redeem it.

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    Facebook will then send an email to the address associated with that user's account, which will contain information about the offer they've claimed. Users can then either print the email or show the email on their mobile device to staff at the brick-and-mortar business in order to redeem it.

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    To understand how Facebook Offers work from a user perspective, you can also check out Facebook's quick video here.

    Better Insight Into Facebook Marketing ROI for Local Business Marketers

    The benefit of Facebook's new feature for marketers is pretty obvious. Now local businesses will easily be able to connect their Facebook presence with its return on investment, since Facebook offers will allow them to directly attribute certain sales with specific Facebook campaigns. This means local business marketers will be able to more clearly understand the value of a Facebook fan and, thus, the ROI of their Facebook marketing.

    To get the most out of offers, marketers should leverage other Facebook tools such as pinning the offer to the top of their timeline to promote them organically, and consider Facebook advertising efforts such as Sponsored Stories to attract more attention to their offers.

    What do you think of Facebook Offers? Will your local business take advantage of it?

    Image Credit: dmdonahoo

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    Topics: Social Media

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