Written by Julie Tilsner, Contently.com
You weren’t planning on taking Zumba classes this summer. But now there’s a Groupon email in your inbox offering 50% off Zumba classes at your local gym.
Half-off? Local business? What the heck, right? Carpe Diem and all that. You click the button and forward the deal to three of your girlfriends, because weren’t you all talking about this Zumba craze just the other day? Now they can snag this deal too. Everybody’s happy.
Deal sites, both group couponing and daily deal aggregators, are becoming ubiquitous, with new players entering the space almost daily. The biggest names, Groupon and LivingSocial among them, are poised to take their companies public and investors are salivating.
But with an ever-crowding field, we have to wonder: Are all deal sites created equal? The short answer is no. So we’ve picked the top five deal sites out there to help you decide where you can get the best deal.
1. Groupon — The mother of all deal sites because it was the first to become a household name and synonymous with its genre, much like Google and Amazon are for search engines and online retailers.
But with great reach comes great deals. Groupon asks for your city first and then lets you opt to personalize your deals even more by telling it your age, gender and interests. Tell them you’re interested in fitness, family and dining and it will send you localized deals catering to those interests. Some recent deals in Los Angeles, for example, include: a coupon for $25 for $50 worth of plant and gardening products at a local nursery chain, and $65 for a 3.5 hour culinary tour for two in Pasadena or Culver City (a $130 value!)
Why it’s a favorite: Because it’s the biggest, and businesses want to offer deals on it, which means you get the largest selection of hot deals.
2. LivingSocial — The Number Two daily deal site, although with Amazon’s backing, it’s on track to close this gap. Although there are many similarities between the two deal sites (both personalize your deals with your city and interests), some analysts say that because LivingSocial is smaller, its interaction with both consumers and merchants is more personable. Does that make a difference to you? If so, check out LivingSocial for a more fuzzy feelgood vibe.
Why it’s a favorite: Because in a free marketplace, nothing succeeds like competition. LivingSocial is aggressively taking on Groupon, and often has deals you won’t find on the larger deal site.
3. ScoutMob — If the future of computing is mobile, then the future of deal sites is ScoutMob, a daily deal site oriented for mobile devices. It offers a free mobile app for iPhone or Android devices. Aimed at the “locally curious,” subscribers scan deals by city or neighborhood (currently available in 13 cities, with more coming soon) and then redeem the virtual coupon once they check into the business. A tiny player comparatively speaking, but a spunky one.
Why it’s a favorite: The opposite of big and sprawling, this hungry up-and-comer specializes in finding the cool urban places you didn’t know existed in your neighborhood. Now you have no reason not to go check them out.
4. Dealnews — A deal aggregator site with a coupons page that’s worth signing up for because of its incredible deals on a wide array of products, from great deals on back to school items to discounts on name brand computers, this site is worth spending some time on…and signing up for.
Why it’s a favorite: Because sometimes you don’t need a local deal, especially if you’re going to be buying something online. The computer and tech deals here, in particular, are hard to beat, and it’s all under one, easy to navigate roof.
5. DealBurner — Recently acquired by CityPockets, Dealburner sends you a text when you use your Foursquare or Facebook accounts to “check in” to a location, pushing relevant nearby deals right to your smartphone and enabling you to use them immediately. The co-founder called it “an aggregation of past, present and instant.” Certainly forward-looking. Best of all, there’s no waiting to redeem your deal.
Why it’s a favorite: Because we like texts and we like immediate gratification. That’s why.
The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.