Once we read the Forbes article honouring one of our merchants, Groupon as the fastest growing company EVER, we decided to catch up with Jonathan Mann, Online Marketing Manager & Haris Malik, Affiliate Manager to get the scoop on the latest news and plans for the high-climbing brand.
Being named the fastest growing company in web history is quite an achievement. How will this accolade affect your business going forward and are there any big plans in the pipeline?
We will continue to move fast, grow strategically, and expand our marketing reach wherever we can. We’ve built our reputation on this, and are known here in the UK as one of the fastest growing merchants (especially on Awin!). Our modus operandi is simple, really: do more of what’s working, and do it better. This is why we’ve grown so phenomenally quickly on the local and international level.
Groupon US are in the process of launching personalised deals, whereby customers’ demographic information and buying history are used to tailor offers to individual users. This will allow several offers to be issued on the same day. In addition, they are looking at issuing deals through Twitter’s new EarlyBird service. These are two opportunities we will be looking at in the UK in the near future.
What differentiates Groupon from its competitors and what attributes of your business model make the company such a success?
We were the original: the inventors and pioneers of the group-buying model. This means we have the most comprehensive in-house knowledge at how best to apply the model, and find the best deals that benefit both our customers and partners. On top of this, we relentlessly adapt and perfect our offer as the market continues to evolve.
In addition, there is a significant gap between the reach we have and the smaller-scale opportunities that our competitors can offer our merchant partners. We have global capacity, and keep on expanding. This is based on a happy melange of specific local knowledge and a robust offer engine that can handle the volume that we are famous for producing.
We tend to be a useful resource for our competitors; they use us as the barometer of the market. We saw this recently when a competitor pretty much copied and pasted our affiliate promotion with only minor changes. There’s nothing like flattery!
How does the affiliate channel fit within Groupon’s overall marketing strategy?
The affiliate channel is deeply important to what we’re trying to achieve. Our offers are diverse in price and nature, and therefore are best run across a variety of verticals. Affiliate marketing allows us to achieve on a larger scale, and in the most efficient manner possible.
Aside from affiliates, we do very well with display ads, PPC, and on our thriving social media channels. As is the case with any merchant, our marketing channels complement each other, and work well to provide a useful mix in the online space. Because users see our banners and ads in such a diverse range of places, this helps significantly with brand awareness, which – as our affiliates well know – expresses itself through higher conversion rates.
All these elements combine to drive word of mouth and viral marketing – which is in turn catalysed by a sense of urgency stemming from the 24 hour model. News of deals spreads unbelievably quickly amongst friends, colleagues etc, and this is a huge component of our customer acquisition.
In a sector that’s recently seen a lot of new merchants utilise affiliate marketing why should affiliates make Groupon their group buying programme of choice?
The best advice is to be choosy who you work with. Ultimately, it boils down to whether the brand converts for you. We have generated very high conversion rates for our affiliates, simply because our products are so strongly discounted, and because they are the best available. We don’t run things that we don’t think will sell. Our pre-sales process is extremely selective, and with a different deal per city per day, the sheer variety of what’s available is deeply attractive for our affiliates. We have a higher turnaround of deals, whereas other group buying programmes may run their main deals over two or three days.
If you look not-so-carefully at the sales numbers displayed on our front end, you will note that our deals are always exceptionally popular, and that we tend to sell hundreds tend if not thousands more products on a daily basis than our nearest competitors. This, to my mind, is the big differentiator: the deal quality is always high, so the volume sold is always high.
For those affiliates who are not currently promoting your programme, what steps are you taking to more intelligently target new partners?
It’s all about segmentation. We are actively seeking out sites whose demographic fit our own. We have a very busy business development aspect to our programme, as a lot of our affiliates know. We only work with people who we think are suitable in terms of site traffic and demographic. You can be a small site operator and still earn good money with us as a result. We value the quality of the publisher as much as the volumes received, so we like to be as focused as possible when we set up new affiliate relationships.
For More information on the Groupon Affiliate Programme or to become an affiliate, click here.
For press enquiries please contact:
PR Manager, Affiliate Window
t: 020 7553 0333