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Mobile Insider Summit Takeaways Marketers Need To Know

Topic: Mobile Loyalty | Author: Jeff Hasen | Date: August 24, 2012

mobile insider summitTwo massive brands shared their mobile stories this week at the content-rich Mobile Insider Summit in Lake Tahoe, Nevada. Each brand has accelerated its mobile efforts to drive sales, engagement, and loyalty.

Wells Fargo & Company, a financial services company with $1.3 trillion in assets, serves one in three households in the U.S. More than 10 percent of its 70 million customers use mobile to interact with the company for at least part of their customer journey.

This has prompted Wells Fargo, now number 26 on the Fortune 100, to make mobile part of the mix. To date Wells Fargo provides banking, insurance, investments, mortgage, and consumer and commercial finance through more than 9,000 stores, 12,000 ATMs, the Internet (, and mobile.

The approach speaks volumes about the value of mobile as a complement to all the other channels.  As Alan Gellman, SVP of Digital Marketing, put it: Stores are a critical part of building the relationships that Wells Fargo nurtures — and “mobile won’t replace them.”

By far, the most common use case for mobile is allowing customers to check their account balances. Each month, Wells Fargo receives 27 texts on average from customers using mobile. Of the 70 million customers, 21 million utilize online banking and 8.5 million use mobile to interact.

As Gellman sees it, it’s all “about the consumer, not the technology.” For this reason, Gellman implores his team to create compelling experiences and to “mobilize, not miniaturize.” That’s a smart idea since the technology should adapt to people, not the other way around.

To deliver a good customer experience every step of the journey Wells Fargo has designed “voice of the customer” programs to monitor “what are they saying, where are they saying it, and how are they saying it.” Beyond customer relationship marketing (CRM), Gellman sees acquisition and cross-selling as critical in mobile initiatives.

Other Gellman gems:

  • On mobile and security: Gellman notes his company understands its duties go beyond what is regulated. “It’s about what’s right for the customer.”
  • On chasing the newest technologies that some call ‘shiny objects’: Gellman challenges his marketers to reveal “what’s the value-add.”
  • On mobile advertising approaches: Gellman says mobile is efficient and effective, because it offers “cheap CPC (cost per click) and high impact on awareness.” But there is a catch: “it can’t totally be measured.”

Lowe’s looks at mobile

Equally compelling was the viewpoint shared by Sean Bartlett, Director of Mobile Strategy and Platforms for Lowe’s. By way of background, Lowe’s is the second-largest home improvement retailer in the world and number 54 on the Fortune 100 list. Lowe’s serves approximately 15 million customers a week at more than 1,745 home improvement stores in the U.S., Canada and Mexico.

Bartlett’s view on mobile products and services centers squarely on the value it delivers. Questions top of mind must be: “Is it compelling, and is it incremental?”

A recent initiative by the chain has put 42,000 iPhones into the hands of sales associates as a way to help customers get a more satisfying experience from the iPhone app. It’s all about creating a virtuous circle by helping sales people to help their customers, who have already made mobile part of their daily routine. The outcome is a solid relationship. At a deeper level, this can strengthen the ties between the customer and the retailer and boost involvement and interest in the MyLowe’s loyalty program.

Bartlett has been in his position for just 18 months, but the change in mindset is significant. While Bartlett calls the early mobile efforts by his company successful, he reveals the company is “blowing it up” to start again with a new focus on the experience.

It’s all about using mobile to be more friendly and personal. As Bartlett put it: “Mobile is the evolution of the experience economy.”

How I See It: The theme of the conference was “mobile first,” a phrase generally attributed to former Google CEO Eric Schmidt, who proclaimed it at the 2010 Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain. The words referred back to the requirements to design user experiences with mobile in mind. Since then the phase has regrettably become the rallying cry for some in the industry who just want marketers to spend on mobile first. That’s nothing more than hype.

As I wrote in my Mobilized Marketing book, it’s really “sell more stuff first.” Mobile may, or may not, help a marketer get there. Gellman and Bartlett are among those in the industry wise enough to know that the what — the business objective of moving products and services — remains the same. Mobile has simply changed how brands can achieve this.

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