JEREMY STEPHISON

Content & Community Manager – Groupon Coupons
Chicago, IL
Joined: 2011

Jeremy takes us on his unique Groupon journey, from his early days as a writer sitting next to the founder of Cards Against Humanity to today where he’s maximizing revenue on the Coupons team.

What’s your biggest Groupon accomplishment?

I manage the Target coupons page. Through a mix of unorthodox content strategies, DIY market research, and navigation of an arcane commission rate structure, I was able to boost Click Through Rate and Commission leading up to Black Friday. I’m super proud of the results: year-over-year CTR jumped to 84% (a 6.71% increase) and commission jumped by 101% on Black Friday.

This one’s a little less data driven but…you know those wacky signs in the engineering department? They say, like, “Warning: Doppelgängers Active In This Area” or “Cloning In Progress.” I wrote those!

I also worked on the Mother’s Day deal for a 3D Printed You and wrote up the Groupon Cat Reader deal. Some of my jokes were actually quoted in USA Today and The New York Times!

Where were you before Groupon?

I taught rhetoric at a few community colleges and a university before I got the job at Groupon. Teaching rhetorical strategies was a pretty great training for actually using those tricks and techniques here at Groupon.

Where can we find you outside of work? What keeps you busy?

So, there’s this guy named Edward Bernays who’s basically the most influential person of the 20th Century that nobody’s ever heard of. He was Freud’s nephew and he studied psychology and sociology to invent PR (he actually coined the phrase “Public Relations”). He’s also the reason Americans eat bacon for breakfast, use disposable cups, or think of Calvin Coolidge as a fun-loving fan of Vaudeville (that last one didn’t really stick). I love reading his books along with consuming as much information on buying habits and consumer behavior as possible. It helps with my job, but it also really paints a picture of who we are as people and why we do what we do. … That’s a hobby, right?

If you could do any other job for a day, what would it be and why?

This makes me sound like an 8-year-old, but that’s o.k. I’d love to be a stunt pilot. I’ve never flown a plane before, so it’d be a literal disaster, but what a job that’d be!

What’s your favorite local business?

Milton & Margie’s Soy Wax Candles. They’re made in Chicago out of hand-painted tin cans and vintage glassware. Also, they smell amazing. But what I love is that the company creates literally zero waste. The wax is sustainable soy, the wicks are sustainable cotton, and the containers are used soup cans. It’s ingenious and original, and I just really love the brand.

“[In 2011] There were a lot of spirited debates and questions like, “Is it funnier if the orangutan is riding a Harley or piloting a hot air balloon?” I even shared a cubicle with one of the founders of Cards Against Humanity.”

Tell us about what you do all day. What do you love about your job?

I manage about 30 Groupon Coupon pages. Basically, the job requires me to think on my feet, try out new content strategies, and use every marketing trick I can think of to engage customers to help them feel comfortable shopping with Groupon. I honestly love the job: there are new challenges every day and I work with an amazing team that’s eager to share their knowledge and resources. And thanks to incredible data-tracking tools, I’m able to react on-the-fly to any issues that might come up before they turn into raging dumpster fires. It’s deeply satisfying!

What’s the most challenging thing you’ve worked on?

As content managers, we always want to balance our methods and strategies with the brand identity of high-profile merchants (such as Target, Bed Bath & Beyond, Microsoft, etc). Sometimes those conflict with each other and there’s no easy solution. In those cases, I feel lucky that I’m empowered to collect performance data and jump on a call with the marketing managers of these companies. It’s not always smooth sailing, but at the end of the day, we always work it out in a way that benefits everyone. Finding a compromise that makes the merchant happy while prioritizing customer experience can definitely be a challenge, but the results are always worth it.

Who or what inspires you?

This is going to sound pretty corny I guess, but my manager and team inspire me. I’ve never been part of a group that cares so much about their work. A big part of what we do requires constant innovation, and everyone’s eager to share what they’ve learned. Individual successes feel like team successes, and vice-versa, and that’s inspiring to me.

What’s your favorite space in the office?

Ready for your next challenge?

What was your first impression of Groupon as a workplace?

The whole thing felt pretty surreal, like somebody threw Saved By The Bell and The Onion into a blender, and then built an office out of it. I started as a writer back when publications like The New York Times and 60 Minutes were talking about our wacky brand voice. We’d all put in 10 hour days, and our biggest challenge back then was figuring out the best version of a joke for a nail salon or barbecue restaurant. There were a lot of spirited debates and questions like, “Is it funnier if the orangutan is riding a Harley or piloting a hot air balloon?” I even shared a cubicle with one of the founders of Cards Against Humanity. It was a goofy blast!

 

How does your work impact Groupon’s mission of building the daily habit in local commerce?

Traditional Groupons let people save money on the things they do every day. Groupon Coupons gives them a way to save money on the things they buy every day. Our inventory of promo codes and exclusive deals for major brands fits seamlessly into online buying habits. My job is to make sure that when customers arrive at a coupons page, they’re having the best / most frictionless experience possible, and that they want to keep coming back.

Can you write a Groupon haiku?

There is a weird cat / sitting in a green spaceship / Please, Check Groupon First.

What’s your favorite Groupon memory?

Oh, man… I’m not even sure where to begin. One time, a silver-haired fella came into the office and gave us fatherly advice while pretending to be our high-school football coach (it probably makes as much sense to you reading this as it did to us experiencing it).

A few weeks ago, a guy dressed up as that giant Abominable Snowman from Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer and gave everyone around the office hugs.

The time Salesforce gave us a bunch of giant stability balls, and someone turned one of the narrow hallways into an enormous ball pit and we got this email: “Hey everyone, If you have a Salesforce ball sitting in Knockturn Alley, please remove it. Right now that hallway is a horrific (albeit comical) fire hazard. thanks.”