Quit Clipping. After Hitting 450M Visits, Coupon Site RetailMeNot Launches Facebook App With Personalized Deals From Your Likes

Tired of wading through irrelevant newspaper coupons? RetailMeNot doesn’t want you to feel the same way about its massive website. So it’s just launched a Facebook app that recommends coupons you’ll actually use by pulling in your Likes and interests. RetailMeNot is the top coupon site in the US with 450 million visits a year to its 500,000 offers. The app will make sorting through them a breeze and could show off the power of Facebook for personalized e-commerce.

RetailMeNot’s app is simple enough to get mainstream coupon clippers to put down the scissors. First you give it permission to see your Likes, and then you can give it some extra help by selecting a few of your most beloved retailers. RetailMeNot then gives you a personalized feed of coupons. Click one to copy the promo code and visit the site where you’ll redeem it. You can also share a coupon with friends, or save it for later.

Over time, RetailMeNot’s app gets smarter — something your newspaper obviously doesn’t do. It learns from what you check out to better tailor recommendations of the 60,000 retailers it offers coupons for. With its Alerts feature, you can get notified when your favorite stores have new discounts.

Jag Bath, the SVP of Product at RetailMeNot’s parent company WhaleShark Media tells me that rather than being a replacement for its website, the app caters to a group of people who find deal-hunting to be an “inherently social activity”. And since it already has 2.2 million Facebook fans to promote to, gaining traction won’t be tough. It’s all part of Whaleshark’s plan to diversify and adopt the next wave of tech, which is already paying dividends as 20% of traffic now comes from mobile. The company has $300 million in funding and expects total of 450 million total visits and $125 million in traffic, up from 300 million visits and $80 million in revenue in 2011.

The app seems like such a good idea, I’m surprised how few retailers are getting serious about Facebook personalization. There’s a massive trove of data there that’s easy to get permission to access and that can drastically reduce bounce rates.

I think we’re headed squarely in the direction of minimizing the “shopping” experience. Search, category browsing, and decision-making are all exhausting — they just used to be the only ways for people to apply their preferences. But now with rich APIs powering recommendation engines, the choices are a lot closer to choosing themselves. Users are easily distracted. They’re always just one moment of irrelevant content away from going somewhere else. Many times you only get one shot to get them out of the discovery phase and into the conversion flow.

If you only have a single fold of real estate to catch someone’s eye with, don’t take a wild guess about what customers want. RetailMeNot’s got it right with this app. Sure you might lose some users during the permissions step. But if you grab the data and make a smart recommendation, people will remember how you made something stressful a snap, and they’ll come back.