Today I received an email from Groupon--the phenomenally successful coupon service that relies on mass distribution and volume acceptance to generate business for its 'partners.' The email stated:
New: Personalize Your Groupon Deals
Now you can customize your Groupon experience. Complete your profile in 15 seconds, and we'll start sending deals that better suit you.
Sounds appealing. I like Groupon and it's ilk and I like personalization of any service to make it more relevant to me. (Let's not get stuck one the semantics of personalization vs. customization for a moment and why they offer both.) And I like that it only takes 15 seconds! When I clicked through on the email, I got the box above asking for my gender, zip code and date of birth.
First, gender--OK but I often look for deals for my wife (manicures, hair styling, clothing, etc.) and would this exclude them. Second, zip code--I've already self segmented stating I like in Austin, Texas. That piece of info is tagged to my user account. If Groupon is offering a compelling coupon, I'll drive across town for a deal. That's my choice. Finally, date of birth. I've now passed into the age range where I don't proudly state my age. That seems a little personal to me. How about asking for a date range instead? And would my tastes differ from someone of a different age? All of the Groupon deals that I've seen are pretty age neutral.
My point is that it seems that Groupon is limiting the range of deals for me by 'personalizing' the offers presented to me. Sure, they may be more "relevant " to me (as determined by Groupon) but for a service that relies in part on people sharing the bounty of a good deal either through social media, gift giving, or mass quantity coupon redemption. Don't they want more people rather than higher-quality people redeeming their coupons? Does a business who offers a coupon on Groupon care about whether their coupon is dead center relevant to me or just sort-of interesting to me? As long as I buy, they are happy. (Although there are tales of too much of a good thing. Check this story on one business's challenge after offering a Groupon.) Perhaps this is brand extension so that partners get higher quality first-time customers rather than coupon redeemers who never look back after the first visit?
Which makes me wonder what their objective is. Is Groupon trying to tailor it's coupons or collect user data? Probably some of both but maybe a different tactic would have worked better. Perhaps a 'I like this deal' or 'it doesn't appeal to me' or thumbs up /down type of rating could have sufficed. Or a user survey to gather market attitudes and aptitudes.
In any case, if you volunteer to personalize or offer the ability to customize, tell the customer the value and benefit of doing so. It may not necessarily be in their best interest-- just yours.