By James Luty, Coolpink
As a slightly obsessed digital consumer, the world of mobile marketing is one I kind of take for granted and enjoy playing in as a customer, but as we work to help clients figure out the best ways to capitalise on this it becomes clear that there are a few rules to the game.
For customers, clients and advertisers the mobile industry has grown rapidly over the last 2-5 years and transformed the way we research, compare and purchase a product or service.
From web browsers to apps, the opportunity for every customer to purchase through their hand held device has never been so easy, but what does this mean for the merchants and advertisers of this world?
What's the best approach to this explosive form of marketing? What do brands need to get their heads around...?
Integration is the key. Retailers such as M&S and Debenhams have adopted a multi-channel strategy to strengthen their product offering and to bridge the offline & online gap.
However, beware...there is an order of how to enter this world. Any retailer looking to enter the mobile arena should do so with a mobile version of their site before considering app developments. Getting overexcited by the idea of apps is a dangerous approach if you haven't already prepared your website for mobile visitors. Although the look and feel to a mobile site can be similar to that of a desktop, a users experience and interaction can be completely unique.
A key factor in the rise of mobile has come directly from the demands of customers. A user will often use their iPhone or iPad at home to research products and read reviews, instead of using their PC or Laptop. The trick, therefore, for retailers is how to replicate this when users are on the move, and more importantly in-store.
At Debenhams, for example, users are now using their phone in store to compare prices, find alternative colours for clothing, ordering a product if out of stock or simply taking a picture of a jumper and sending to a friend for style advice. This has prompted the retailer to now consider installing WIFI on all floors to increase the speed of browsing and accessibility, but also to continually develop their technology and applications. A happy customer is a returning customer.
Almost 80% of UK phones now have smart phone capabilities and a high usage of social media activity with Facebook and Twitter. As Facebook has become a friend to many in its own right, it makes sense that retailers tap into its platforms. Their new Deals feature promoting special offers around specific stores allows customers to gain access to offers when they Check-in to a location/place and receive a financial incentive to purchase.
We've also seen an increase in demand for other reward sites such as Quidco and Voucher Cloud, which can be used as mobile gift cards and mobile voucher codes presented at checkout - this kind of marketing is also a key part of the mix for retail brands as these sites are influencing where shoppers are purchasing.
Twitter is also becoming increasingly recognised as a key marketing, customer care and branding tool - a great way to build relations with customers is to directly engage with them, and responding to customers in store tweets provides brands with the opportunity to get up close and personal with their shoppers. In providing a timely, targeted and relevant response it helps the customer feel valued, which brings many positive connotations to the brand.
Virtual reality...don't lose sight...
There are many positives to operating within a mobile marketing channel; however there can also be lots of pitfalls. Key aspects to consider are:
- The key elements to your brand, - how will they translate to a mobile site? Often brand recognition can be lost with a small screen size when using mobile web.
- What do your customers really want? Understand that customers search, research, share and purchase across multiple channels every day.
- Engaging with customers triggers social sharing and social conversations - brands need to be aware of what customers are saying; it takes months and years to build a reputation, but only minutes to destroy it.
The thing to remember about mobile is that it also makes it easier for customers to become disloyal. Customers that engage with mobile marketing have the opportunity to compare prices for most products using iPhone applications such as Red Laser, and are quite likely to do so, even when in store.
It is this type of mindset that retailers now need to be aware of and find ways to combat but the opportunity for those who engage well through mobile marketing is huge, as it takes customer service and brand engagement to a whole new level.
Talk to customers in their language, in their world and they'll love you for it, but ignore their new buying habits at your peril.
Mobile marketing can and will help drive sales, but only if brands really go for it. Now is not the time to sit back and wait because customers are in no mood to be patient they're excited about the new technologies available to them, and so should we be.
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