That post the other day about room to grow in the mobile coupon space. From the Groupon Q1 earnings call this is what it looks like today for them, one of the leaders in local couponing. Sales via mobile have risen to 45%. There's gold in them devices.
Not too long ago Wired ran an article on five Google products at risk. One of these at risk products was Google Offers. I think Wired was right. Google seems to be heading in another direction.
That direction is Google Local. Google is moving to a retailer self-service model. Not really surprising. I never really thought that Google liked the high touch sales effort of the deal marketplace model.
Google Local is distributing offers though Google Maps for Android. Within Google Places merchants can set their own promotional offers, set a promotional period, and cap the number of promotions that consumers can use. They have adopted a ScoutMob like "Use Now" button. Currently there is no cost to merchants to place a promotion during the "trial" period, which if it is anything like betas at Google could go on for a long, long time.
It will be interesting to see how this pivot works for them.
All Things D broke the news this morning that nCrowd has purchased the assets of Tippr out of Seattle.
It is the largest acquisition that we have made to date. The purchase includes the Tippr and Groupalicious web properties, a subscriber base of more than one million consumers, and some intellectual property rights.
This is nCrowd's 20th acquisition. It pretty much solidifies our position as the number three participant in the local offers market as we continue to evolve away from the deal space. Our operating footprint is expanding from being focused on the Southern/Plains regions to a national footprint where we will be able to provide merchants online customer acquisition services from New York to Honolulu.
At the moment we are executing well on the rollup strategy that we devised in the fall of 2011.
One of the top five classes I have ever taken was a shortened version of a negotiation course during a Mergers and Acquisitions executive education program at The Wharton School. The class was led by Stuart Diamond. It was darn good.
It has been over ten years since I have taken that class. But there is one thing that I will always remember from it. If you can't seem to get anywhere in a negotiation take an extreme position that any rational person would agree to. Get to that first yes.
An example that Mr. Diamond used was around the Israel-Palestine conflict. Pretty tough nut. Those folks can't seem to agree on anything. In such a situation you have to take an extreme position to get agreement.
"Can we agree that it is wrong to kill babies." Well yeah. From there take incremental steps, "How about toddlers?" "First graders?" "Teenagers?" until you meet a point of resistance. At that point get them to tell you more so you can address the underlying concern. Ask why.
Great tactic that generally works. Take an extreme position, it will often times lead to a deal.
It is a union that has been a long time in the making. Seems to me that most deals work that way. I first approached CrowdSavings CEO Chad Jacquays about a how we might work together strategically in April of 2012. We kinda sorta know we were going to do it around Thanksgiving and the transaction closed mid January. Once we got real serious it took a solid two weeks to get it closed. Truth be told the transaction itself was more of an acquisition then a merger.
But putting the companies together is another story. Chad and Doug Bauer, the CrowdSavings CFO, have built some solid systems and a solid team that are going to make our combined entity much stronger. Going forward we are going to be using best practices which is always an interesting exercise.
For example, daily deals have the lowest average campaign open rate at 19%, while religious newsletters have the highest at 48%. Overall, photo and video businesses engage users extremely well from both an opens and clicks perspective.
From an abuse perspective, the construction industry, interestingly enough, has the highest abuse and hard bounce rates. Daily deals actually have some of the lowest unsub, abuse, and bounce numbers.
So why would daily deals have some of the worst engagement but some of the best scores regarding negative feedback? First of all, if you’re being flogged deals each day, there’s a chance you’re going to disengage, become a zombie, relegate the mail to a folder, etc. By that same token, however, you’re too disengaged to unsubscribe or click the spam button. The mail is just background noise to be ignored, both positively and negatively.
I think their analysis here is right on. We send a lot of email at Half Off Depot. Something in the range of 50 million messages per month. Our open rates are low, our unsubscribes low, and we get little negative feedback.
Lots of acquisition activity in the Atlanta startup world recently.
Vitrue purchased by Oracle for a reported $300 million (too low).
BLiNQ Media bought by Gannett for a reported $90 million (too high).
Pardot gobbled up by Exact Target for what seems to be an accurately reported $95 million (about right).
Nice wins for all. Three nice wins for the Atlanta marketing technology cluster. Major props to the entrepreneurs that started these ventures and the teams that made it happen.
In his article announcing the Pardot deal, David Cummings talks about the importance of culture fit in acquisitions. He is right. Many acquistions fail for lack of culture alignment. They also fail for lack of integration execution and other more preverse motivations that come into play.
I am fairly confident that Reggie, Dave, and David are going to do everything they can to make these deals a success for the companies that acquired them. I am also fairly confident that they and some of their early employees will be exiting in the not too distant future. From what I hear some maybe sooner than othes. Truth be told entrepreneurs and people that work for startups don't get along real well in 1,000 employee companies. If they did they would not have been working at a startup in the first place.
It reminds me of the advice that I used to personally give to every entrepreneur.
If somebody offers you a lot of money for your company you take it. You take the money and you leave. Leave as soon as you can while sticking to your commitments to the acquiring company and the people that work for you.
Build something of value. Leave when someone buys it.
Yesterday Groupon shares tumbled more than 10%. The stock is down 67% since the beginning of the year and 74% since its IPO last year. On top of this performance there are a mass of stories that question if offering a deal is good for small businesses. Mostly anecdotal stories such as Wafflegate. The end result is widespread concern about the viability of the online deal industry with dire predictions for the companies that participate in it. Predictions that are predominantly based on the performance of a single company that seems to have continual execution issues. However when the industry is put under more rigorous analysis, there are a number of positive signs for the market.
The percentage of merchants making money off a deal jumped 6 percentage points to 61.5%.
The percentage of new customers a deal attracts remains unchanged at 80%.
The deal site share of revenue increased by 2.5 percentage points to 45%.
The incidence of profitable daily deals increases with the merchants prior level of deal experience.
Deals appear to be sustainable online marketing programs for 30% of businesses.
Deal site loyalty levels are low (which is a positive if you are a challenger brand).
Some of Dholakia's conclusions from the data collected in the study.
"On the whole these results are encouraging for the daily deal industry. They provide no evidence to support the conventional wisdom that daily deals are working less effectively for businesses than they did in the early stages of this industry's evolution. Nor do we find the daily deal industry to becoming weaker in its pricing power."
"Daily deals continue to remain effective with repeated use, and marks the first such evidence to our knowledge that daily deals can be sustainable marketing programs for at least some businesses that use them."
And he concludes with:
"Our results find little or no evidence of deterioration in the performance of daily deal promotions over the past year for small and medium-sized businesses or with experience as the business operator runs multiple daily deals."
What I am seeing in the performance of Half Off Depots supports this conclusion. Sales are up, margins are not compressing, merchants come back to do more deals, and many merchants have made our program the core of their online marketing effort.
The reports of the online deal industry's death have been greatly exaggerated.
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