Mobile Couponing Brings Mixed Results to an Iowa Jiffy Lube

A Jiffy Lube manager’s foray into the world of mobile couponing convinced him the practice has potential but it also proved that human nature can be a funny thing.

Andrew Storjohann, general manager of the Jiffy Lube of Ames, Iowa, can’t understand why so many of the people who won mobile coupons for discounts, and even free oil changes, never showed up to redeem their coupons. “Even the free oil changes didn’t get redeemed, which I thought was very strange,” said Storjohann. “Over the entire two-quarter period (when about 4,500 people responded by sending text messages seeking coupons) we got back only 30 coupons. We got very poor redemption and the question is, Why? What am I supposed to do, pay you to come?”

Storjohann was convinced by a local radio station sales representative to try the mobile coupon campaign. The Clear Channel FM station in Ames, KCCQ, works with mobile marketing specialist HipCricket.

For the Jiffy Lube promotion, KCCQ listeners were urged, at the end of Jiffy Lube commercials, to use their mobile devices to text the word JIFFY to a 5-digit number. All participants received mobile coupons for various Jiffy Lube discounts and services such as oil changes, wiper blades, tire rotations and filters. They also were given a chance to sign-up for future offers.

The campaign ran for the third and fourth quarters of 2008. Storjohann said the effort yielded about 175 text messages per week. “That’s a fair response,” he said. “We liked it because it gave us a way to track how many people were listening to the radio spots.”

Another bit of good news from the campaign was the fact that, of the 30 people who did show up (with their cellphones) to redeem the mobile coupons, 15 had not before been Jiffy Lube customers.

“Normally, with regular newspaper coupons, you get only a 20 percent redemption of new customers,” Storjohann said. “So at first I was pretty stoked about this. But now I’ve got to figure out how to get more redemption.”

Because the radio station representative told him other companies using HipCricket mobile coupon campaigns get “much better” redemption rates, Storjohann figured the problem was specific to his business or campaign. “The people either didn’t value our coupons or forgot about them,” he said. “It told me either our coupons weren’t very good or…maybe it’s the fact that you only get your oil changed every two months or so.”

The coupons expired in 30 days. So, if a winner of a free oil change recently had the job done they wouldn’t be interested, Storjohann suggested. However, that theory doesn’t explain the no-shows by those who won coupons for discounts on other services and products.

HipCricket Chief Marketing Officer Jeff Hasen said the problem with the Jiffy Lube redemption rate might have been timing. “I know it was coming up to winter in Iowa,” he said. “Perhaps folks put it off.” He also said people are still getting accustomed to mobile couponing. “Mobile is relatively new and the first objective is to get folks to respond to a call to action.”

Storjohann said he changed his mobile coupon plan this spring, hoping for better results. “I signed up for a sponsorship of the radio station,” he said. “They have texts that come in requesting certain programming. Whenever one of their customers texted anything to Clear Channel, they would automatically get back one of these coupons.”

The results were even more disappointing, he said. “We have a lot more coupons going out with even less of a redemption rate. At this point, I’m not signing back up. I think it’s a very convenient way to advertise and I would consider doing one like the first one again, but I want to figure out how to get more redemption out of it.”

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