Groupon + Loopt

This was finally the week. The week of the unsubscribe. I’d spent months checking my email compulsively throughout the day to purge my inbox of newsletters I’d signed up for, advertising deals at my favorite stores, travel sites, and through club deal sites like zulily. I like to have a tidy inbox – my inbox is almost always empty and, though I tolerate a little bit of a to-do list quality for my personal email, it should still be organized. But this week, I said to myself, no more. And I unsubscribed from almost every newsletter I receive. I think Travelzoo’s weekly Top 20 deal email survived the purge, and my zulily email (since I’m still totally overwhelmed by the thought of buying baby stuff).

Again, there was no real reason for this massacre. I was simply sick of getting emails for deals I didn’t need and having to delete them. I delted my Groupon email a long time again because I was sick of saying no to stuff I wasn’t remotely interested in but was receiving just because some business in he greater Boston area had decided to have a promotion.

That’s why I wasn’t surprised to read this gossip on RWW: that Groupon’s rate of redemption by email is “shockingly, abysmally low”. Of course it is. It sounds like a good idea at the time – free stuff and outrageous discounts and you don’t even need to search for them! – but after a few weeks, you realize like I did that those deals are only marginally targeted for you.

But Groupon hooking up with Loopt is a phenomenal idea. Now, as you go about your life, you’ll be able to access deals relevant to where you are and what you’re doing. If you can turn off alerts to them and just have access when you’re sitting around with friends at a restaurant, bored, wondering if there’s something good to do around town, all the better.

I’m skeptical of location-based apps like Loopt and Foursquare (which I use occasionally but has largely lost its appeal as well) because it seems they can very easily fall into the trap of “this is cool because its new”. Groupon and other email deal sites like it teeter on that fine line too. You need layers of usefulness to survive.

What’s the relevance for small businesses? Location-based apps are part of the same phenomenon I mentioned the other day: driving business down to the local level. Small business need to take advantage of that. And the same rules apply. Just like it’s easier for the Gap to sell products to me because I’ve opted in to their marketing strategy, it’s easier for local businesses to engage with customers who are already nearby and interested in looking to try something new.

The key is balance. Groupon’s partnership with Loopt will be a great thing IF it’s not the only layer of usefulness the two apps can come up with AND if they don’t over do it. Long term customers require more than just a barrage of unappetizing options.

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