Using Student Discounts to Sell Your Software? Verify Your Buyers are Really Students.

Posted on Jun 15, 2018 · 6 min read

The college-bound love new gadgets and tech, and they spend real money — an estimated $22B on desktop/laptop computing alone. They’re impressionable and their lifetime value as customers is high. And when they find a good deal, you can be sure they’ll recommend it to friends.

Tableau and Intuit are well-known brands that are using exclusive offers to capture the incredible potential of this audience. They recognize that seeding the market with a free or discounted student offer can help software companies acquire new users and nurture them into long-term, profitable customers.  

But if ineligible buyers can access the offer, this powerful strategy is undermined and can lead to lost revenue.

Is Your Student Discount Program Flawed – Or Entirely Absent?

Maybe you already have an student seeding program, but your method of verification is simply to ask for a .edu address, which makes your offer vulnerable to fraud. Or you ask students to upload identifying documents, such as transcripts, which is time-consuming and labor-intensive. Or worse yet, you use the honor system and provide no oversight.

Or maybe you believe in the potential of a student discount program, but are afraid to implement one because the unknown aspects are overwhelming and you don’t know how to prevent them.

How do you implement a lucrative student discount that doesn’t go viral and isn’t fraudulently redeemed by ineligible buyers?

Read on to learn how to set up secure exclusive offers that will turn today’s students into tomorrow’s loyal, full-priced customers.

College students have a customer lifecycle preference of 10 years.

Collecting a .edu Email Address Is Not Enough

Everyone likes to get something for nothing, and current and former students are no exception. In fact, there are even online tip sheets on using a college ID to get student bargains forever.

The greatest risk to a student discount offer is relying on a .edu email address to verify it. This approach has three major flaws.

  1. It invites fraud. Most software companies don’t realize how damaging fraud can be. When we audited our customers, we found fraudulent transactions were as high as 35 percent. It’s easy to see why when you realize 68 percent of college students keep their email address for the year after they graduate, with some colleges encouraging alumni to keep it for the rest of their lives. Student discount programs based on .edu addresses inevitably lose money because ineligible buyers take advantage of them.
  2. It limits your reach. Believe it or not, 34 percent of students don’t have a .edu address. This means more than 1 in 3 prospects who are eligible for your offer can’t access it. That’s a lot of money to leave on the table.
  3. It leads to offer abandonment. When you send an email to confirm a .edu address, students have to leave your website to retrieve it, find it in their inbox, then re-engage with your purchase process before they can close the deal. That’s a lot of hoops to jump through, and many students simply won’t do it.

One-Time Verification Falls Short

If you’re not re-verifying students on a regular basis, you’re losing even more money.

Students who legitimately access your offer eventually graduate, but if you don’t know they have, they’ll continue to receive the discount indefinitely. If you only verify a student once, you’re missing the opportunity to convert them to a paying customer.

The lack of a secure verification process also means students can share discount codes with friends, or find ways to take advantage of freemium versions of your software. And when an offer isn’t protected, customers will lose trust in a brand and shop with them less often.

You simply can’t manage a profitable student seeding program without an effective way to verify and re-verify your exclusive offer.

In some companies, fraudulent transactions are as high as 35%.

SheerID’s Digital Verification Solution Secures Your Student Discounts

The key to a successful seed marketing program that turns students into long-term paying customers is SheerID’s Digital Verification Platform. SheerID has all the features you need to protect your offer and eventually monetize it.

  1. Fraud prevention. Instead of relying on a .edu email address, SheerID verifies student credentials by accessing hundreds of global, authoritative data sources. This prevents graduates from exploiting your offer, which saves you money. It also makes it available to students without a .edu email address, which brings you more customers — and revenue.   
  2. Instant processing. Nothing kills a conversion faster than friction in the verification process. Forty-three percent of students said they abandoned a cart because it was too hard to get their discount. SheerID avoids this drop off by verifying them instantly.
  3. Third-Party Validation. Consumers don’t want brands to verify their exclusives offers. Fifty-seven percent would rather be verified by an independent third-party like SheerID.
  4. Verification occurs as part of the purchase process. Student verification with SheerID can happen anywhere during check-out, so the in-brand experience is never interrupted, which increases conversion rates. Seventy-two percent of students say they would use a student discount more often if it was easier.
  5. Ongoing reverification. SheerID can re-verify students on a regular basis, which maintains the security of your offer and gives you the chance to encourage full-priced purchases or offer interim discounts while students transition to the working world.

Secure Student Offers Build Brand Loyalty that Pays Off After Graduation

Student offers processed through digital verification can be the beginning of a beautiful relationship. College students have about a 10-year customer lifecycle preference, and 69% are more loyal to brands that offer student discounts.

The data gathered during the process enables you to nurture, train, and ultimately convert students to your full-priced product. Getting college students familiar with your software and helping them become expert users creates a pipeline of loyal customers who bring your product with them when they join the workforce. They may even ask companies that aren’t using your software to provide it, bringing you even more business.

Brands that use SheerID’s Digital Verification Platform increase their conversion rates by more than 10x. For example, a leading music subscription service converts 98 percent of their student discount customers to full price after graduation using SheerID.

Students may not be fully-paying customers today. But they will be tomorrow, with a smart, digitally verified offer program.

Students working with software purchased through an exclusive offer that used SheerID’s Digital Verification Platform.

Create Instant Trust in a Digital World

Let’s talk about how SheerID’s Digital Verification Platform can help you earn loyal, long-term customers from your student marketing program.

Tony Coray by Tony Coray