Everyone loves to save money, on-line or off-line. Businesses providing coupons on-line is not new and is one of the aspects of local search. Providing coupons are an easy way to help spread your name or brand around. It can provide another way for folks to find your website or business.

Current there are numerous ways to provide coupons online:

  • via your website
  • via a coupon directory
  • via local search engines or directories.

Local search is all about increasing your visibility. Coupons are one of those ways that can do that.  Last month Judy’s Book began doing coupons via a new website CouponLooker.com and most already know that Google allows coupons via the local business center.  Only a few of my clients are doing coupons-I have not gotten much feedback from them, but I think it is a good idea.  Since I am no expert in coupons, I decide to contact someone who is.

Localelements is the flagship product of Concept Productions operating out of Chico California. Kara Tupy Marketing Director of Local Elements was kind enough to sit down with me and talk about on-line coupons.

Q. Who do you see as your main competition?  There are many other coupon sites out there.

A. Obviously, there are some well known coupon sites out there that allow users to search for coupons at a local level such as Valpak or Coolsavings .  The problem with these sites is that they primarily offer coupons that can be redeemed at chains or nationwide stores.  From the consumer perspective, this can be limiting if you want to shop locally or find that perfect something at a smaller boutique store, for instance.  From the small business owner’s perspective, it is downright confining.  As small and locally owned business owners know, competing with large superstores is an increasingly difficult challenge.  The cost to advertise on Valpak or Coolsavings is prohibitive for most, if not all, small businesses.  As such, neither of these sites are true competitors of Local Elements.

Small Businesses can post coupons on Google’s Local Business Center once an account has been created and validated (via postal mail).  The coupon database isn’t searchable per se, but the coupons are available when a user locates the business on Google Maps.  Google’s recent partnership with Pennysaver will undoubtedly mean new features as well as new content added in the near future.

In one sense, every coupon site out there is a competitor, but once a small business owner sees that online coupon advertising via Local Elements is within their reach, the choice is easy.

Q. How is Localelements different from other coupon sites?

A. Local Elements is the first user-driven coupon community on the web. We differ from other coupons sites in that we exist to help connect small and locally owned businesses with local residents.  We want to see small businesses of all sizes gain equal footing online with the nationally recognized brands that dominate coupons sites like Valpak and Coolsavings.  We started with small business in mind and we’re committed to keep small business at the forefront as Local Elements grows.

When you take a look at the Local Elements home page, you’ll see that our user interface is simple, intentionally so.  One of our core values is to keep it that way.  Most coupon sites have flashing banners and ads that distract the consumer from their end goal of finding coupons.  Not to mention the difficulty that many consumers have when trying to navigate the pre-set categories that most sites provide.  Users on Local Elements perform searches based on keywords (just like they would when using any search engine like Google or Yahoo) giving them more control over the end result.

Another key difference is that all of the content on Local Elements is user-generated.  Businesses don’t have to wait for a webmaster to upload their coupons or content and they can make changes at anytime.  The simple to use business user interface allows them to build and preview their coupons in real time, as well as delete, add, or edit coupons whenever and from wherever.

Q. How do folks find your website Localelements?  (Or how do you promote the site?)

A. You won’t find Local Elements buying ad space at the Superbowl or sending out a team of door to door salespersons!  These kinds of marketing strategies drive up the cost for the end user and we’re committed to keeping Local Elements affordable for every small or local business.

The promotion of Local Elements is built into the framework of the site.  With each added coupon, the likelihood of a local business being found in the organic search results on Google or Yahoo increases even when the newly posted coupons come from a business in a community across the nation. It’s the basic rules of search engine optimization that make this possible.  The additional content and links that each coupon, no matter where it’s posted, bring increases the overall visibility of the site, which in turn allows even small businesses to appear at the top of the results for their chosen keywords in their community.  Ultimately this means that non-competing small business in communities thousands of miles apart can band together to help raise the awareness of local business everywhere.

Here’s one example of how this works.  Recently, a local individual searched on Google for “breakfast caterer, Chico, CA. Local Elements coupon appeared as the number two result, even though the caterer’s website didn’t appear in the top 10.  The coupon linked the customer to the caterer’s website and as a result, the caterer secured a significant contract.  Each coupon that a business posts on Local Elements creates the content for the long tail of search that a business needs in order to be competitive in the online marketplace.  It is difficult for a small business to rank for some of the more competitive keywords in organic searches, yet the less popular keyword phrases that make up the long tail of searches on the internet can be extremely effective at driving qualified traffic to their doorstep.

This is an incredibly important concept for small business owners to grasp—that the static content on their website will only ever draw a small percentage of the traffic that could be theirs.  Without developing their own long tail, small businesses will miss a significant portion of local business.  And since most small business owners don’t have the time & often lack the know-how to keep up with the ever changing world of search engine optimization, Local Elements is here to provide the platform for savvy small business entrepreneurs to increase their web presence.

To be continued….