How mobile ticketing and couponing is set to advance

Ariya Priyasantha, global head of couponing and ticketing of 2ergo, evaluates how brands can experiment with mobile customer relationship management.

2009 really was the year of the app and the app store avalanche means Smartphone penetration is now set to rise. When it does it will do so quickly leaving a vast untapped market.

One early adopter option for marketers which is compatible with all kinds of handsets is mobile ticketing and couponing.

With the potential to deliver ROI significantly in excess of traditional paper-based coupons, mobile coupons are estimated to generate £4bn in global redemption values by 2014 according to Juniper Research, with the Far East, North America and Western Europe expected to account for the majority. For the smart brand marketer, distribution has now become more efficient and cost effective, and printing costs are reduced as coupons make it into the hands (or handsets) of targeted consumers much faster. In addition, GPS technology allows marketers to better target consumers as couponing can be delivered in a timely and targeted manner based on location.

With strong advantages over paper-based alternatives, mCoupons are proven to deliver higher redemption rates, offer better security and encourage impulse purchases. From a customer acquisition perspective, they support traditional marketing activity with redemption data and allow viral campaigns in which users can forward coupons to friends, which in turn create new CRM data opportunities. They also encourage the creation of brand loyalty through coupon reward points systems and develop brand entanglement through loyalty promotions or rewards.

Once mobile coupons are redeemed, mobile customer relationship management (mCRM) databases can be enriched with lifestyle and purchase data allowing organisations to build a more detailed profile of their customers for targeting with future marketing and promotional campaigns.

2ergo’s work with Olay Total Effects provides a salient example of how a brand needing a mass-media brand awareness campaign can gain recognition.

Key to the marketing of the Olay brand is gaining consumer confidence through product samples and tracking coupon redemption rates. Proctor and Gamble needed to drive uptake of the product samples in stores across India in 2009, at a time when mobile phone use was reaching unprecedented levels across the country.

At the time very few retailers had a Point of Sale (PoS) redemption system to allow coupon redemption tracking. P&G needed a redemption capability that was not reliant on these systems and a bespoke mobile solution was needed that catered for these challenges whilst appealing to the mass market.

Using 2ergo’s VoucherNet offering (the mCoupon and mTicket solution) Olay consumers were able to request coupons via SMS which were redeemable at in-store Olay retail points. The lack of PoS or web access systems to redeem vouchers was overcome by using trained promoters using handheld devices in 12 shopping malls across India.

The campaign remains one of the largest mCouponing campaigns ever executed by an FMCG brand in India. During the three month campaign over 27,000 mCoupons were issued and around 71,000 addresses were received. 27% of those who received the mCoupon engaged with the store sales staff and redeemed the free sample offer.

The Olay example highlights the value of today’s fully comprehensive mobile marketing solutions. These allow you to use real time reporting to make campaigns fully auditable and easily demonstrate ROI. They also allow you to run multiple campaigns at once from one interface and build insight into lifestyle and purchasing habits from redemption data.

With the ability to integrate with other marketing activity such as DM or advertising, marketers can then use redemption data to easily quantify the success of campaigns.

For those willing to dip their toes in the water, Ariya suggests a three phase approach:

Phase one is all about building Customer Data Acquisition. Add simple mobile engagement campaigns to your existing strategies to help build a mobile CRM database. A simple text-in campaign for an immediate in-store offer is a good place to start.

You can then move on to generating repeat business. Use insight gained from your mobile CRM database to conduct tactical marketing. Based on your customers’ previous behaviour, you can use tactical mobile coupons to bring past customers back into store. From here you can keep in touch with your customers by using mobile newsletters introducing new product ranges and promote viral marketing by getting your existing customers to recommend their friends.

Finally you can aim for loyalty by building a regular mobile relationship with your customers and communicate previews of new products and services on mobile using MMS and mobile video streaming. By now you should be able to identify your profitable customers and enable these customers to receive exclusive VIP offers from third parties, e.g. spa days and cinema tickets, with communication delivered on mobile.

For marketers a key attraction of mobile ticketing and couponing lies in its highly scalable nature. Campaigns can start off on a small scale and broaden the capabilities and reach once you are satisfied with the corresponding returns. This factor alone is making the concept an easy board room sell as we all go mobile crazy in 2010.

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