How to save money at Target using your smartphone and social media

How to save money at Target by using your smartphone and social media

The holidays are coming up, and naturally shoppers are eager to find ways to save a few bucks while searching for gifts and the necessities for entertaining.

Look no further than Target. You may have to do a little work on your end, but trust me it’s worth it. All you need is your phone, an app, and text messages.

Target’s Cartwheel app

Let’s start with Cartwheel, the little app you won’t be able to live without.

Target Cartwheel app

Cartwheel is Target’s in-store coupon app, and it’s available in the iTunes store and Google Play. Cartwheel allows users to store a limited amount of coupons on the app. There’s a gamification element to the app: as you spend more and complete tasks, you earn more coupon spots.

How it works:

Start by downloading the app, and then setting up your account through your Target login, Facebook profile or Google account. As a new user, you’ll have 10 coupon spots. Coupons can be reused multiple times until they expire.

There are a few ways you can add coupons:

  • Manually through the Offers tab. Once you click on offers, you can search by category and see available offers.
    Target Cartwheel app all offers categories
  • Using the search feature (click on the magnifying glass) and type in your search terms.
    Target Cartwheel app search.PNG
  • Using the Scan Product tool. This is best part of Cartwheel. Scan barcodes on items in the store, and Cartwheel will tell you if there is an offer for the item, or a suggested offer if your particular item doesn’t have a discount.
    Target Cartwheel app_scan barcode.PNG
  • Using collections. Collections are offers arranged by certain themes, like seasons, holidays, best sellers, or from Target’s weekly ad.
    Target Cartwheel app collections.PNG
  • Following social activity. Target has a news feed of recent activity from the Facebook friends you connect with, and you can add offers to your account from the feed.
    Target Cartwheel app Facebook friend feed.PNG

If you’re a regular Target shopper like I am, 10 coupons is simply not enough to supplement your twice a week (or more!) Target runs. How do you get additional coupons? That’s where gamification kicks in. Cartwheel gives users badges for accomplishing different tasks like connecting with a Facebook friend  through the app, adding an offer from one of the collections, redeeming an offer multiple times, and saving set amounts of money with the app.
Target Cartwheel app badges.PNG

Cartwheel tips:

  • The app can sometimes be buggy because of weak wifi signals in the store. Make sure you’re using Target’s in-store wifi. Sometimes shutting off the app, and restarting your phone will help reset it. If this happens a lot, you may want to add your offers manually before stepping in the store.
  • Offers last for different amounts of time, so check your Cartwheel app for expired offers and new offers every time you go to Target. Cartwheel has a special promotion for featured toys during the holiday season. There’s a different featured toy each day from now through Christmas Eve. Check the Hot Gifts for Cool Kids collection to add offers to your coupons.
  • Sometimes the offers are not listed in the right category. I recently found an offer for Keurig Green Mountain coffee in breakfast and not beverages, so you might want to look in multiple categories, use the search feature or scan the item’s bar code just to be sure.
  • Don’t want to pick up an item to scan it? You can scan the barcode for items on Target’s shelves. It’s the same code that’s on the item itself.
  • Tell your cashier you’re using Cartwheel. Target cashiers have to apply Cartwheel and other offers in a certain order, so let them know in advance. They need to scan your Cartwheel bar code before you pay, so don’t swipe your card before all of your discounts are applied to your purchase.


Target text coupons

The text coupons are a nice compliment to the Cartwheel app. Start by texting COUPON to Target (827438). You’ll receive monthly discounts on pre-selected products, expiration date reminders, and additional special discounts on certain products or departments. You can use individual text coupon offers only once at checkout.
Target text coupons.PNG

Click on the link in the text message, and the offers will open up in a page in your smartphone’s Internet browser. There’s a barcode at the top that the cashier can scan at checkout.

Occasionally, Target will post signs in the store for special offers and a keyword that you can text to the same phone number to get the offer. These offers are often for a limited time, so keep your eyes open for the signs!

Target text coupon sign.JPG

Target has more ways to save (without your smartphone)

Target’s in-store credit card always takes 5% off your total, but did you know you could get a Target debit card? The debit card connects with your bank account, and functions the same way, but you get 5% off for all of your purchases.

And, if you get your prescriptions filled in Target’s pharmacy, join their pharmacy rewards program. You’ll get a 5% coupon for your entire purchase for every 5 prescriptions you fill there. The pharmacy rewards coupon can be used multiple times in one day. And I mention this because I have used it multiple times in one day. Don’t judge me.

The best part of all of these tools is that they can be used together. I recently got an iPad for 20% off by combining a 10% Cartwheel discount with the 5% debit card discount and the 5% pharmacy rewards coupon.

Social media and Cartwheel

If you want to be in the know about what new deals are being added to Cartwheel, there are a few search tricks you can use to get the latest updates via social media. Try searching #Cartwheel on Facebook, and you’ll see all public posts with that hashtag. There are tons of websites and blogs that post daily about what they’re finding on Cartwheel.

Or you can set up a Twitter search for #Cartwheel. You can make it a saved search for your Twitter profile by clicking the More Options tab, and then click Save this search on the dropdown menu.
Twitter Cartwheel Hashtag.png

Happy shopping!

If you aren’t a Target believer, maybe these smartphone tools and other offers have convinced you to join the Cult of Target. Got other ways to save money there? I would love to hear about them! Let me know in the comments.


Instagram features you may not be using blog post

Instagram features you may not be using

Instagram is a fantastic tool for taking, editing and sharing photographs, but are you taking full advantage of all the features it offers? Here’s a few options that you may not know about:

  1. The Layout app

OK, technically Layout is a separate app from Instagram, but it was created by the folks at Instagram. Layout allows you to quickly combine multiple photos from your phone into a collage. Choose the images you want, and Layout will automatically give you photo collage suggestions.

Layout Choose Photos for Collage

Scroll through the options and click on any of the images to switch them, rotate, or choose a mirror image option.

Layout Edit Collage

When you have the collage you want, upload it to Instagram, Facebook or a few other options. If you’re sharing it through Instagram, follow the regular steps to edit and post to your feed.

Layout Share Collage

  1. Location tagging

Did you know that you can tag your Instagram images with a location? Instagram uses geotargeting – if your phone’s privacy settings are turned on – to offer location suggestions. When you’re filling out your photo caption on the “Share to” screen, turn the Add to Photo Map function on, and then click on Name This Location.

Instagram Select Add to Photo Map

Choose a location or create a new one.

Instagram Choose Location

The location will appear on the “Share to” screen.

Instagram Share Image with Location Tag

When you share your photo, it will be tagged with the location.

Instagram Click on Location Tag for Photo

Want to see more photos that were taken at that location? Click on the tag. You’ll be able to scroll through images that share the same location tag. This is a great way to find out more about a location, and to show you’re a loyal fan!

Instagram Photos with Location Tag

  1. Managing filters

Instagram recently added some options that will help you organize your filters so that you’re using the ones you like the best. To organize your filters, click and hold to highlight a filter. You can drag it anywhere on the row so that your favorites appear at the front of the list. If there are filters you hate and never use, drop them to the middle of the screen to hide them.

Organize Instagram Filters

Have you used any of these Instagram features? Which one do you like best?

Pin this blog post!

Instagram features you may not be using

Why aren’t people attending your events? 3 event marketing don’ts

If you’ve ever planned events, you know how frustrating it can be if they don’t turn out the way you thought. Fortunately for me, I’ve planned smaller meetup-type social events that aren’t the fundraising kind. Even if only a few people show up and have a few drinks and a few laughs, you and your guests can consider it a successful evening.

You would think that social media marketing would give event planners a huge leg up to get tickets sold and butts in seats. It’s summertime right now – a busy time for events – and my friends and I are checking out festivals and meetups on a regular basis.

But I’ve seen so many huge, basic event marketing mistakes that make me wonder if anyone is forking over their dollars to pay an admission fee. Here are 3 event marketing don’ts. Names and identifying features are blacked out to protect the guilty. Hey, I’m annoyed, but I’m not a jerk.

Don’t forget vital information – like the time. And LISTEN to your Facebook fans.

I recently paid $112 for 2 tickets to a brand-new music festival. Happy to do so – my husband and I love one of the bands that’s playing, the festival is 5 miles from our house, and neither of us had plans for the day.

The problem? We’ve heard about the festival for a month, and – even after buying the tickets – could not find the time that it starts and ends. Anywhere. Not on the festival’s official web page, not on their Facebook page, and not on the Ticketmaster site. Despite that, we bought tickets anyway (again – we do not have plans that day and we are really excited to see one of our favorite bands), but none of our friends purchased tickets because they wanted to know the start and end time before committing.

So I decided to ask the festival organizers to give us basic information that should be part of any event’s public-facing digital and social presence. And this happened:

Facebook Festival No Time Listed

I asked organizers about the time, and – instead of answering me – they liked my comment. What?! Did they even read my comment? I just paid $112 for tickets. Tell me when I need to show up. Why is it so hard to find this out? By the way, their answer was wrong. They officially released the schedule on their website since that post, and the entertainment begins an hour later.

If you are having an event, please make sure the time and date are EVERYWHERE. And make sure the information is CONSISTENT. I’ve never had this experience anywhere else, and it is ridiculous. Attending an event should not involve attendees begging organizers to tell them where to show up.

Don’t put the burden on your attendees. And be professional.

I love 5K races. There’s a few local 5Ks that I’ve participated in since moving to New England. I know – 5Ks are mostly an all-volunteer effort, and sometimes that means you’re not going to get top-notch, professional marketing. But you should make an effort because it could make a difference.

This email is from a 5K I’ve participated in for the last 5 years. The first year, organizers sent an email and did not use blind carbon copy. Everyone on their list was in the To: line. So unprofessional. This year’s email takes the cake:

5K Email

They sent a reminder through the registration service – my Gmail flagged it as possible Spam. And the organizer tells his potential attendees in a poorly-written email to register ASAP so he doesn’t have to deal with last-minute registrations like he did last year.

Excuse me?

Last-minute registrations are NOT my problem as an attendee for a 5K race. There are a lot of people who do wait until the last minute because of weather. Your communications to attendees should be professional (check your spelling and grammar!), provide the facts, and thank people for even considering your event. That’s it.

Be mobile-friendly

Here’s a reality: A large portion of your audience is finding your event information via mobile. And that’s because a smartphone is an important part of our daily life –  79% of adults age 18-44 have their smartphone with them 22 hours a day. We’re using mobile when we’re meeting up with and talking to our events and making plans. We’re using mobile while we’re watching TV at night. We’re on our smartphones when we’re waiting in line. We are using our smartphones as a way to plan how to spend our money and our free time.

Please make it easy for us to find information about your event, and don’t make us look at things like this:

Event Calendar

Can you read this calendar? I can’t. Unless I squint and scroll, and use an un-pinching motion to zoom in. And I’m probably going to click the wrong link because sometimes links are too close together. No matter how much I zoom, I can’t aim that well with my giant finger.

Your website and your event information need to be easy for me to find, read, and scroll on a mobile phone. If it’s not, I’m going to give up and check my email. Or check out my Facebook and Instagram apps. Make sure your font is not tiny. Don’t overload your page with lots of paragraphs and photos. I don’t want to spend 5 minutes scrolling. Give me the basics on one page. Not sure if your event info is mobile friendly? Try it out on your phone, or ask a friend or colleague to check it out. Can they find what they need right away?

What should you do?

I’ve covered the don’ts today, but what should you be doing? Check out my posts on marketing best practices. Or add your suggestions in the comments. If you’ve found examples of event marketing gone wrong or event marketing done right, I’d love to hear about it!

Why mobile marketing is no longer optional

This is a guest post from my fellow marketer, friend and all-around fabulous person Heidi Tobias. If you don’t follow her on Twitter, do it now: @htoby.

By Heidi Tobias

Hand Tapping iPhoneIf I could see you right now, about half of you would be reading this on a mobile device (be it smartphone or tablet). One year from now, if I ask this same question, the results would be the majority of you would be viewing this via mobile. In your own life, how many times did you access the Internet this week? How many of those times was it via a mobile device?

As marketer, I need to communicate what my audience wants the way they want it.  Have you checked that your marketing messages are showing up and are showing you in the best light in our mobile world?

What is your mobile grade in this situation?

Whether it’s an email, website, blog or social media post with a link for more information or a way to buy a product, clicking the link should load the information I want. Right? Nope. What launches is it a game of chance (not in my favor).

  • A web page loads that is not optimized for mobile so I can not see a bloody thing. I can spend some extra time zooming in to try and take an action but if my  spare 10 seconds of time is finished I have to move on. Mobile Marketing grade: B
  • The whole site/page is done is in Flash and will not run on my phone or tablet. When I see a blank white page, I am unsure if this is the issue or the whole site is down. Not sticking around to find out. See ya! Mobile Marketing grade: F
  • A site designed for mobile appears (yay!), but the information contained is so limited that it has nothing to do with the reason I clicked in the first place. Mobile Marketing grade: D
  • This company has invested in a mobile app and is asking me to download it, regardless what the link promised me. Installing takes time and space on my device that I may not care to give you. Mobile Marketing grade: C
  • This company has an app, and I have taken the time to previously install it on my mobile device. So when I click the link, the app should launch to the information that was related to the link? Nope. I get stuck in an endless cycle of being prompted to download the app that I already have. (This is you, LinkedIn!) Mobile Marketing: F

Reality: The majority of people interacting with you and your brand are doing it via mobile. There is no simple solution for mobile that works for everyone equally. Think about why people come to your online content and what they expect. Then pick the answer that fills the need. Remember: 89% of smartphone owners will take some kind of action after looking up local content. I do not know of any business that can afford to ignore 89% of their visitors, do you?

Is anybody checking in?

foursquare buttonsI recently celebrated my third anniversary with foursquare. Since 2009, I have checked in more than 3,700 times on 988 days. I have 64 badges, 21 mayorships, and 48 friends, and follow 54 businesses.

After seeing last week’s Pew Center for Internet and American Life report, Cell Phone Activities 2012,  I started to think “Why am I doing this?” Location-based apps/check ins were not among the report’s top 8 cell phone activities. Pew did a study back in May about mobile location-based services, and only 18% of smartphone owners use them. Crazy coincidence? 18 percent of my Facebook friends are on foursquare.

At first, it was about trying a new social media site. I loved the bragging rights for mayorships, and I was one of very few people using it in my area, so I had lots of mayorships. I loved getting the badges too, but I’m not earning too many these days.

So why am I still doing this?

A large part of it is the routine. I check in every – single – day. It starts with the elevator ride to my office – check in to work (I don’t have a foursquare location for my house because my husband would rather keep that private). As soon as I pull up to the parking lot of any of my destinations, I get out of the car, click my remote key thingy to lock it, and open up the foursquare app. When I was in London earlier this year, I bought an international data plan so I could check in (and use the Internet and other apps) – I scored lots of points and got a sweet London Calling badge. My friends who attended Boston’s Social Media Day with me over the summer hovered over a table of social media giveaways – we each walked away with a complete set of foursquare badge buttons.

I think the other part that keeps me going is the possibility of getting a discount. But those are few and far between too. The Gap’s occasionally had some foursquare coupons, and so has Newbury Comics (a funky CD store chain in New England). Lots of places have partnered with American Express to offer coupons or deals, but I don’t have an American Express card. I get more benefits from loyalty cards (especially Panera Bread, Sephora and DSW) than I have in 3 years of foursquare check-ins.

It seems like there hasn’t been enough interest to sustain an app like foursquare. Most businesses aren’t aware of it, and the ones who are haven’t been leveraging it to appeal to loyal customers. They’re relying on those loyalty programs that give them better access to customers, who have to provide the company itself with their valuable personal information in exchange for an account or card. Some of its functions can be completed with other apps that have the advantage of ubiquity and popularity – check ins with Facebook mobile, and reviews/tips with Yelp.

Is checking in worth it? Not for me, not lately. One day, I’m going to get to the office and decide to check my email on that elevator ride to work instead of checking in on foursquare. That day is coming soon.