By Faye Martins
Are group buying sites helping yoga? As Groupon prepares to issue its IPO and questions rage about how to value a company like this, no one can question the power of group buying sites. According to a report by emarketer.com, almost 50% of U.S. online consumers redeemed a coupon generated online in 2011. Every time an inbox is opened, it seems that more and more offers are waiting, and many of them are for Yoga classes, studios and personal sessions. But is a group buying site really a good way to promote yourself as a Yoga teacher, and for students, is it the best way to expand a practice?
The preponderance of Yoga offers can be explained by the overlap in target markets: the majority of Groupon users are white women, ages 18-34. This demographic is very likely to practice Yoga. Fitness is, in fact, the third biggest category for group buying sites, after food and drink and beauty services. Research group BIA/Kelsey reports that spending on daily deals is set to reach $3.9 billion by 2015, and a huge chunk of that will be on fitness classes and training. So how could it be anything but a great deal to offer your Yoga classes as a daily deal?
Well, now that the bloom is off the rose for small businesses and this kind of marketing, some trends have emerged. On average, about 20% of customers who utilize a group buying voucher will go on to buy another good or service. comScore, which analyzed Groupon data, says that the majority of deals sell for between $10-$30. Group buying sites typically take 50% of the purchase price as well. If you cannot afford to discount classes for the 80% of clients who will not end up as repeat customers, doing a group buy voucher may be a mistake. Indeed, social media marketer iContact reports that 70% of small business owners dislike Groupon. A very popular deal may temporarily increase business to the point where additional staff are required, but the demand may not then sustain that employment level. A number of articles on companies that lost thousands on group buying deals have run in the media recently. Your studio may need new clients, but you need loyal practitioners, not one-time drop-ins.
Before committing to a daily deal, calculate your average cost to gain a client. This includes your usual marketing costs, such as online ads or promotions. Then, using a conservative conversion rate (remember, 20% is an average), calculate how much the group buy deal will cost you. With some upfront analysis, you may find that your Yoga studio belongs in inboxes all across town.
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