What Every Social Media Marketer Should Know About Pushpins

Pushpins is a viral, mobile couponing platform that pushes coupons to consumer's loyalty cards as they browse and scan products in grocery and retail settings. After the jump, what you need to know about Pushpins - an app from three guys who plan to finish Harvard.

Pushpins is a viral, mobile couponing platform that pushes coupons to consumer’s loyalty cards as they browse and scan products in grocery and retail settings.

The Pushpins app – downloadable now for iPhone with other smartphone platforms pending – allows customers to walk into a store, scan the barcode of a product and find targeted and flexible coupons called Pushpins.

The customer could receive a pushpin for the branded product (Pepsi), the competitor (Coke), or for recommended complementary products (Lay’s Potato Chips). When redeemed, Pushpins are linked directly to their store loyalty cards and will be credited to the shopper when they checkout.

Ways the product benefits social media campaigns

Shoppers are able to easily share news of their savings with their Facebook friends and Twitter followers. Coupon redemption and sharing earn points which move customers up a leader board and unlocks other deals. The combination of building loyalty and creating competition intends to make Pushpins “sticky.” Shopping history is saved, so users can also share with their friends the old-fashioned way – showing them.

Retailers and brands get detailed analytics about from shoppers’ check in and check out the Pushpin app, including frequency of store visits and time spent shopping. Couponing activity provides information on products of interest and how shoppers move through stores. Brands can use the information to “cross-coupon” – for example, promote sweeteners to coffee buyers – to increase the likelihood of sharing.

Coolest feature

Ease of use. The small application can be quickly downloaded in the store over 3G, the simple user interface keeps Pushpins from adding significant time to the shopping experience and having the coupons tied to customers’ store loyalty cards eliminates manual handling of coupons and additional scanning at checkout.

Looking ahead

Currently, Pushpins operates at nine major grocery chains, including Safeway. Discussions are being held with other grocery chains. Stores without loyalty cards may be able to use the Pushpins platform using some other identifier, such as customer phone numbers, to tie Pushpins into their point-of-sale systems.

Pushpins will be a platform that includes coupons served to shoppers for products of interest not related to scans.

User profile

Primarily consumer package goods (CPG) brands and retailers who have loyalty card programs. Brands can target coupon campaigns – an overall campaign coupon budget can be made available to shoppers of certain demographics in specific geographic regions and/or stores. Coupon values can be varied among customers.

During beta test, greater than 10% of Pushpins were redeemed, compared with the best-case 2% redemption rate of paper coupons. According to the company, “At scale, Pushpins will essentially become the ‘Google Adwords for coupons,’ allowing manufacturers to bid for specific customers in grocery store aisles.”

Comparison with other shopping apps

This is a familiar process for customers. Unlike buying services such as Groupon, savings are offered to shoppers while engaged in shopping, so they neither need to plan to shop nor bring anything extra with them to the store to get savings.

According to the company, they have no plans for Groupon-type offers or for location-based “nearby specials” along the lines of Foursquare and Facebook Places.

Pricing

Pushpins is free to users. Brands issuing coupons remit fees similar to those they pay for paper coupons when Pushpins are redeemed. Retailers pay no fees, but must integrate their point-of-sale systems with Pushpins’ platform to allow customers seamless checkouts.

About the company

The venture-backed company was selected out of 300 applicants to be incubated by Lightspeed Venture Partners (investor in LivingSocial & ShoeDazzle), which subsequently led to a Series A by the firm.

The Pushpins management team consists of three first-year Harvard MBA students with previous experience in retail point-of-sale systems, iPhone apps and consumer analytics. As of today, they plan to complete their degrees.

Our “What You Should Know” series of application profiles has been helping brands and agencies select the most appropriate tools to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of their campaigns. Need help measuring or monetizing your social media activities? We recently profiled SocialSenseFB and have an archive of previously profiles.