The holiday numbers are in, the mobile user surveys are done, and the implications for brands, retailers and marketers are profound. Mobile has become an integral part of the shopping routine, with the vast majority of consumers admitting to using their mobile phones to search and purchase gifts. John Stevens examines this mobile megatrend and shares eight tips for creating and executing a successful mobile strategy.
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Shopping will never be the same. A number of reports show that people rely on mobile every step of the consumer journey. Equally mobile search continues to play a huge part in our lives. A recent Performics survey of 502 U.S, residents who use mobile phones to search the web at least once a week revealed that a whopping 75 percent of consumers report mobile search makes their lives easier. Specifically, 63 percent said access to mobile search has changed the way they gather information, and 32 percent said they use search more on their mobile devices than they do on their personal computers.
Clearly, the advance of smartphones and the increasing popularity of tablets and connected devices like the Amazon Kindle raise the bar when it comes to all experiences — including search. As a result, shoppers expect the companies and brands they interact with to deliver mobile-enabled services that meet their needs, regardless of whether they are connecting via a smartphone, tablet or feature phone handset.
Against this backdrop, there is intense pressure on traditional bricks-and-mortar stores to align with the times and take advantage of the growth in the number of consumers using mobile devices to research and purchase products. Mobile-readiness begins with a mobile-optimized site or experience. But it also lays the groundwork for strategies that enable brands (and retailers) to build up an opt-in customer database, an interaction they can cultivate by offering coupons and SMS alerts to consumers who genuinely want to hear what the brand has to say.
An approach built on opt-in databases is particularly useful when it comes to more specialized consumer targeting and tracking. Tracking consumer purchase patterns on the move, along with the ability to separate data into specifically targeted user groups and demographic patterns, gives brands an effective, expedient way of reaching prospective customers, and securing their long-term loyalty.
The bottom line: mobile retail is a fact, not a fad.
InsightExpress reports that mobile retail purchase intent is eight times higher than online retail purchase intent. How you choose to market your brand now will be critical for future customer acquisition and loyalty.
To help you with this task, I have identified eight tips to guide you as you develop a mobile strategy.
1. No guesswork. Understand your customers’ behavior first. Until you know how your customers want to interact with your company or brand via mobile, you won’t be in a position to develop a strategy that meets your business objectives. A common mistake businesses make is to start with the technology first and then wrestle it into a solution for the business. Although a shiny, new mobile app might feel like a good idea for your business, you need to look beyond the technology. Make the effort to truly understand how your customers use their mobile devices, and you will generally find that the best way to engage effectively is to offer them a mix of propositions across different platforms (mobile-optimized website, app, text). And don’t forget that your mobile presence could clinch the deal. Market research firm Foresee reports that shoppers who are highly satisfied with a mobile experience are 32 percent more likely to buy from that retailer online and 31 percent more likely to buy offline.
2. Make it easy. Foresee research also points out that one-third (32 percent) of shoppers already use their phone to access retail websites. Brands need to capitalize on this behavior by mobilizing their websites and offers. Ask yourself: how does your site look on a mobile device as we speak? If it’s not easy to read and browse, then you could be losing out on revenue. At 2ergo, we conducted some research in association with YouGov, questioning over 2,000 adults in the UK about their attitude to mobile purchases. The results show that nearly half (49 percent) of the sample didn’t feel comfortable making a purchase on their smartphone because of the difficulties they have viewing the content. The time it takes websites to load is a deterrent for 34 percent of mobile users surveyed.
3. Aim to influence. When shoppers go online with their mobile devices to research or purchase products, they have made some— but not all —, key decisions. Again, Foresee research shows that 47 percent of shoppers use their mobile phone to compare prices on the fly. Brands and retailers are therefore well advised to develop marketing and promotional strategies that give potential customers the right combination of information and offers. Baking this into your mobile strategy will ensure that your customers make a decision that plays in your favor (such as making a purchase or agreeing to an ongoing brand interaction).
4. Make use of mobile advertising. Mobile advertising — which Efficient Frontier tells us is 60 percent cheaper in terms of cost per click that desktop advertising — has fantastic reach. It can be seen by anyone with a mobile phone — and that’s over five billion people. Efficient Frontier also tells us that as a result, mobile advertising sees 2.7 times larger click-through rates than desktops adverts, an interaction that also delivers businesses that spend on mobile marketing a significant ROI. But don’t just jump into mobile advertising. Make sure mobile targeting plays a center role in your strategy, regardless of whether you choose to run simple display banner campaigns or campaigns that point people to a specific offer. And timing is a must. Think about the best time to target people, and remember that many mobile searches and sessions take place in evenings and weekends, as people surf from their sofas.
5. Seek a balance. A smartphone user surfing on a fast connection will likely expect more rich media, than a user relying on edge connectivity on a feature phone. Don’t go in for features that require the fastest connections and the most advanced devices. Make your mobile site light to load, but add enough functionality to ensure mobile shoppers can access the information they need. Also, pay attention to page design. Our experience has taught us that shoppers rely heavily on three kinds of content: product details, peer reviews and personalized ratings and recommendations. Retailers need to cover all three and make sure their content is timely, accurate and relevant.
6. Bridge the consumer gap. Use mobile vouchers and coupons to reach people where (and when) it counts. Supermarkets are leading the way here. They have harnessed targeted mobile marketing that is also responsive to changes in consumer behavior. For example, regular customers who stop shopping at their usual store for an extended period of time receive a mobile coupon to encourage them to come back and check out what’s on offer. But it’s not just for supermarkets. Major operators have long embraced this approach to connect with their pay-as-you go mobile customers via personalized and targeted messages they deliver to the user’s phone once spend ceases or drops below a certain level.
7. Use location to your advantage. Location-aware marketing is gaining serious traction. The blogosphere is full of excellent case studies and examples that show how brands and retailers are communicating and engaging with customers based on their location. Most handsets and smartphones also allow integration with GPS from within a mobile site, bringing even more benefits to smart brands that harness location to deliver relevant marketing messages.
8. Track the results. The most important thing is to capture and analyze everything you gather. Mobile marketing campaigns provide an abundance of raw data. Taking the time to make sense of it will pay dividends in the long run.
Many brands are already mobile but not in the true sense of the word. They have fractured strategies that don’t fully utilize all of the assets available to them. In the competitive mobile space, it’s tough for brands to make an small impact, let alone make a real impact on consumer behavior. Therefore, the real opportunity moving forward will be for brands who are prepared to take a step or leap up to true mobile engagement. They will be the ones who achieve real long-term success.
John Stevens joined 2ergo in January 2010 from DSGI Business where he was Sales and Marketing Director. He has more than 25 years commercial experience in retail and B2B sectors, including three years as Marketing Director at PC World Business, and various board positions including eCommerce Director and Multi-Channel Marketing Director. John is currently Group Managing Director at2ergo, a mobile marketing specialist and is responsible for sales, marketing, product development and new business ventures. Follow 2ergo on Twitter (@2ergo).