Besides the ways to add information into Google Maps I wrote about in this series, the businesses in the US have one extra option. They can add Coupons to their Maps listing. In this article you can read more about what Coupons are and how they can be created.
What are Coupons?
Coupons are printable forms, which can be used by businesses to give their customers discounts. Here’s an example:
There are many sites available where you can download and/or print free coupons. In Google Maps a link to the coupons will show up in the search results.
Last year Google partnered with Valpak, a direct marketing company in North America. They started with about 20.000 coupons from Valpak. After the initial release of the Coupons feature more coupons would be added both through Valpak and the Local Business Center.
How can Coupons be created?
I thought there was only one method to create your own coupons, but I think I found another one, more about that one later on.
When you click on the Add a coupon now button, you’ll get a form with which you can add your own coupon.
When you start filling out the form, there’s a live preview of the coupon at the right side of the page. The fields are self-explaining. The fields are a little bit small (25 characters for the headline, 35 for the sub-heading, etc), so you have to be creative with texts. You also have the option to give an expiration date to the coupon.
After you’ve clicked on ‘Continue’, the coupon will show up on the detailed page for your listing in Google Maps within a few minutes.
You can edit the Coupons from this overview, but you can also delete or pause them.
Google Coupon Feed
When I started doing some research for this article, I ran into the Google Coupon Feed Documentation.
It looks like this is a way to add a complete list of coupons at once. You have to create an xml feed (or a tsv feed) on your own server. The documentation doesn’t mention how Google will find this feed. Can you submit the url somewhere? Do you need to add it to your sitemap? I asked Google about this, but I haven’t had an answer yet. If I hear from them, I’ll post an update. If you know more about this subject, please let me know
I also couldn’t find any information about the Coupon feeds, except the documentation on code.google.com.
At this moment the Coupons option is only available in the US, but I’m not sure how many companies are using it.
The initial 20.000 looks like a lot, but I had to perform a couple of searches before I could find one.
Maybe if the coupons start showing up in the ‘normal’ Google search results, more companies will start creating them.
It would also be nice if the feature would be made available in more countries. And if you don’t need to print out the coupons, but just use them on your mobile, like Cellfire offers.
At this moment it’s not possible to search for coupons, that’s a pity.
But for local companies in the States it’s nice to start experimenting with Coupons. It’s free and it gives you an extra option to connect to your customers.
This was the last ‘normal’ article in the series about How to get your information into Google Maps
There will be one more, this will be a wrap up of the series.