Blockbuster provides a perfect real-world example of a company struggling to get it right. Sometimes they get the DVD in the tray and sometimes they don't. (That analogy sounded better in my head!)

One of the neat features of Blockbuster Total Access is that along with being able to exchange mail envelopes for a free DVD in the store is that they also send you a monthly coupon that can be used for either a DVD or a game. Real quick, let's do the math on all of this. I pay just about $10 per month for the one DVD at a time plan. Let's say that I only watch movies on the weekend so every week I get my DVD in the mail, watch it, exchange it for a freebie in the store and then wash, rinse and repeat the next weekend and so on. That's two movies I watch per per week, eight per month plus a ninth movie (or game) using the free coupon. I'm paying just over $1.10 per movie.

If I were to do the same process with the next level of service, two DVDs at a time, I'd be paying about $0.88 per movie. Not a bad stinking deal, and again, which is why I'm in love with Blockbuster Total access. I'm sold on the service, but where Blockbuster goes wrong is in the customer communications department.

Last week I received an email from Blockbuster notifying me that my ecoupon was ready. I was curious about that. I wasn't sure how these ecoupons would be delivered. Here's the email I got:

Blockbuster Coupons

The email is great! It's only missing one thing; a link to the actual coupon. The email does everything right except the one thing that they absolutely MUST get right. It provides no link nor any instructions on how to print the coupon. Well, thanks for the notification, but, uh, what now?

I look through the "related links" to see if maybe a link to the coupons was included in that list. No luck there. The best I can do is to "Sign In". So I click on the sing in link and am taken to the login screen. I enter my info and am taken to the standard you're-logged-in home page. I don't see any special notice that tells me my ecoupon is ready to be printed. In fact, there is nothing on this page about my ecoupon whatsoever.

I finally figured out to navigate to "My account" and look for a little button that reads "print ecoupon". Talk about making the customer do all the work! An email such as this should, at the very least, contain instructions on how to get to the coupon. Don't make the customers spend time trying to figure all this out. Even better, though, would have been an actual button in the email to "Print ecoupon." This could have led the customer directly to the coupon page saving everybody a bit of time and frustration!

Discuss this article in the Small Business Ideas forum.

September 13, 2007

Stoney deGeyter is the President of Pole Position Marketing, a leading search engine optimization and marketing firm helping businesses grow since 1998. Stoney is a frequent speaker at website marketing conferences and has published hundreds of helpful SEO, SEM and small business articles.

If you'd like Stoney deGeyter to speak at your conference, seminar, workshop or provide in-house training to your team, contact him via his site or by phone at 866-685-3374.

Stoney pioneered the concept of Destination Search Engine Marketing which is the driving philosophy of how Pole Position Marketing helps clients expand their online presence and grow their businesses. Stoney is Associate Editor at Search Engine Guide and has written several SEO and SEM e-books including E-Marketing Performance; The Best Damn Web Marketing Checklist, Period!; Keyword Research and Selection, Destination Search Engine Marketing, and more.

Stoney has five wonderful children and spends his free time reviewing restaurants and other things to do in Canton, Ohio.


That's a lot like an e-mail I saw on The guy got an e-mail from Yahoo answers titled "a little thank-you...", but then the e-mail never had any kind of thank you in it.

I'd have to say that your example is even worse than that one. :)


But... but... you're assuming they actually *want* you to use the coupon in the first place!

Lots of companies offer coupons in the hope that the "idea" of the coupon will entice you to make a purchase, but that you'll forget to redeem the coupon in the end. Same thing with mail-in rebates. The vendors are counting on the fact people will buy the product and neglect to put the rebate form (and UPC and original receipt...) in the mail before the offer expires. More money in their pocket, that way.

I bet if they *really* wanted you to use the coupon, they would have included a link in the email.

There ya go again, messing up their system by actually tracking down the coupon, Stoney. You subversive! :)

Well since they did away with the e coupon, it's all moot now. What a stupid move. I am ending my service because of this.

Yeah, I've noticed the exact same thing and realized, yeah, they don't want me to print that coupon. Even worse, I suddenly stopped receiving my monthly e-coupon after they changed their plans, but assured me that my plan would not change, and I would continue to receive my e-coupons as usual. Well wouldn't you know it, the next month, I didn't get my notification email, and the link no longer showed up under My Account. I had to look all over just to be sure I wasn't just missing it. So I emailed CS, and they said they'd fix the problem, and gave me a "free" e-coupon to make up for it. Except that, that doesn't even make up for the one they skipped, AND I doubt they're going to fix this 'glitch' for the other 'random' customers who stopped receiving their promised e-coupons. Yeah, I don't trust them one bit. Very, very deceptive practices here. But that's what happens when you have a monopoly.

Blockbuster certainly doesn't have a monopoly. There are options both off line and on.. in fact NetFlix has a much bigger online presence than blockbuster. I haven't heard that they are discontinuing the monthly coupon. I'll have to look into that.

Yep, my e-coupons all of the sudden were taken away as well about two months ago. We've been members for almost 4 years now. When we first signed on it was 2 coupons a month for movie or games. Now to show their thanks we no longer get them. I can not for the life of me understand why some people still get them and others like us no longer get them.

I was wondering why I hadn't been seeing e-coupon notices and just checked the Blockbuster Web site. It says this: We recently enhanced our plans to provide our subscribers with more options. As part of this effort, e-coupons were eliminated from most of, but not all, our plans. If you have friends who still receive e-coupons, it may be because they are on one of the older plans that still include e-coupons. So they're now charging more ($11.99 for my plan, as of next month,) and offering less. Great!

I'm with you Kim. They changed their plan structure forcing people to upgrade if they want to continue to swap movies at the store. I had no problem with that since the increase was relatively small. That's when they seemed to cut off the coupons.

I just got another notice that Blobckbuster is raising their prices. To me they are no longer competitive with Netflix. Two blockbuster movies (with swapping) is almost $10 more per month than four at a time with Netflix. That's just not worth it to me. Back to Netflix I go.

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