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MMA publishes guidelines for mobile coupon and rebate programs

April 12, 2011

A mobile coupon from JC Penney's Weekly Deals iPad application

The Mobile Marketing Association has published best-practice guidelines to provide marketers, merchants and wireless carriers with an industry standard for using mobile coupons and rebates to increase sales and promote loyalty.

“Guidelines and Best Practices in Mobile Price Promotions” was created by MMA’s Mobile Couponing Task Force. In the document, the MMA categorizes mobile coupons as one type of mobile price promotion, “electronic coupons or rebates that traverse the full redemption process without the requirement for conversion into a paper or other hard-copy format.”

“These guidelines have been developed to help marketers understand the intricacies of mobile coupons across market sectors and brand categories,” said Michael Becker, North America managing director of the MMA, New York. “The guidelines include a road map to effectively and responsibly integrate mobile couponing capabilities into a marketers’ mobile-enabled marketing strategy.”

Mobile price promotions are distributed and discovered via various methods including SMS, MMS, mobile applications, mobile Web, Bluetooth, NFC and 1D/2D bar code scanning.

Mobile couponing tips
The new MMA guidelines offer marketers a view of these channels and provide tips for developing and executing mobile couponing programs

In the document, the MMA tells marketers than when developing a mobile couponing initiative there are a few things to consider:

1.    The five stages of mobile price promotions, such as the ways that consumers can discover and redeem coupons and rebates.

2.    General best practices and principles, including transparency, good taste, privacy, opt-in/opt-out and government laws, rules and regulations.

3.    Campaign-specific best practices and principles, such as those involving contests, food, pharmaceuticals and alcohol.

4.    Tips for designing coupons, using the word “free” and creating notices such as terms and conditions.

The MMA said that its research shows that consumer interest in mobile coupons continues to grow. This gives brands, merchants and marketers an opportunity to establish and maintain relationships with consumers.

The new guidelines were created to give the ecosystem an industry-standard framework for capitalizing on that opportunity while protecting the consumer experience.

The standards were created with feedback from the MMA’s Mobile Commerce Committee.

“The guidelines add to consumer protection efforts through the stressing of five key principles: honesty in dealings, clarity in content and promotion, transparency in who is providing the offer, clear pricing and value assurances, a focus on consumer privacy and the proper handling of all aspects of the interaction,” Mr. Becker said.

Click here to read the MMA’s “Guidelines and Best Practices in Mobile Price Promotions” document

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Giselle Tsirulnik is senior editor at Mobile Commerce Daily and Mobile Marketer. Reach her at

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