What’s Hot In Local Search: Daily Deals, Loyalty Programs & Group Buying

In my column last month, I discussed some new and dynamic ways that companies are showcasing themselves online and how local search engines can take advantage, both on the web and in mobile apps.

Extending that line of thought, I’d like to talk about another essential trend happening online – especially in local markets – the booming group advertising and daily deal offerings.

Groupon Home PageCompanies like Groupon and LivingSocial have changed the way we all view coupons and deals because of their incredible success in the past year. The premise is also rather simple, which is why they have been so effective.

If this is new to you, the idea is that these companies work with advertisers to offer massive reductions in products or services – sometimes over 50% off regular prices – on everything from restaurants to spa retreats, theater tickets or vacation packages.

They localize many of these deals to various cities across the country and gather a large number of people to go in on the same offering. So the more people who commit to a coupon, the better the deal is for consumers while advertisers see more revenue and promotion.

It’s interesting to see how the landscape has changed in 2011 because we’re now seeing these models integrate into local search engines and social media. While there’s evidence of a decline in Groupon’s revenue as of late, it’s likely because other competitors are leveling the playing field.

Local Deal Sites & Local Search

The large group coupon model is also evolving into programs that offer daily deals and loyalty programs – which are becoming integrated into local search and social media.

While larger, national deals might work for vacations or that television you’ve had your eye on – what about your local restaurant or eyeglass shop? And this has sparked some grumbling from consumers about the availability of local deals.

That’s where local search engines can make a huge difference. Recently, the Wall Street Journal wrote about how AT&T is planning to offer a daily deal in local markets around the country via YP.com and YPMobile.

Through this offering, AT&T is giving users a reason to keep coming back to YP every day to see what’s available in their town. It also gives small- and medium-sized businesses a great way to offer coupons to local customers without having to offer huge bulk discounts like the Groupon and LivingSocial models.

Customer Loyalty Programs Reborn

Another approach to the daily deal market integrates the promotions with social media and a traditional customer loyalty model.

Called Social Select, this service builds on daily deal offerings by rewarding customer loyalty with extra incentives. Customers can punch a physical reward card or even use QR Codes to track their accounts, deals and purchases via mobile phones.

Social Select also gives businesses a great way to improve customer interaction online because it integrates seamlessly with Facebook and other social media. Of course, Facebook also recently announced its own group deal offering and is partnering with companies like ReachLocal, Tippr, Plum District and Zozi.

Attracting and retaining customers has always been a cornerstone of good business and it’s very interesting to see what has happened in our space in the past year. Local search engines, national deal sites and social media alike are all offering these incentives to customers.

It’s exciting to watch the local search industry integrate these new digital models and techniques while preserving its own core business – getting people the right information and listings wherever they live.

In addition to offering dynamic content like videos and virtual tours, small- and medium-sized businesses should definitely be considering the local daily deal and group coupon market through one of these models!

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.

Related Topics: Channel: Local | Local Search Column


About The Author: is an award-winning print and online Yellow Pages executive with broad domestic and international experience, and is the Local Search Association vice president of communications. She also blogs about the industry on the Local Search Insider blog. Follow @localsearchassn on Twitter.

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