Caesars guests roll the dice all the time and leave a lot to fair Lady Fortune. But the casino’s admirable approach to mobile marketing leaves little to chance. During an hour-long webinar earlier this month (you can listen to it here), a senior executive from Caesars Entertainment said that mobile will sit at the center of the company’s strategy to move the business a giant leap forward in 2013.
Eric Petersen, director of new media, Caesars Entertainment, sees “four components” to mobile.
First, mobile Web is used to get consumers to Caesars’ properties — allowing them to make reservations. Second, SMS is mainly used to reach consumers that are in market — sending them exclusive offers, deals and reminders. Third, mobile applications are “hotel-specific to enhance customer experience” — and these apps deliver value by enabling customers to access and use concierge services, room service and make dining reservations.
“Finally, Petersen noted, “we use QR codes on print advertising and on-site signage to increase the level of interactivity consumers can have with our brands.”
Petersen is wise to provide consumers choice and let them decide how (mobile, Web, on-site) they want to interact with his properties. He also correctly assumes that his customers have a certain level of sophistication and mobile savvy.
But there is a bar to reach. Brands have to deliver their customers a mobile-optimized website and experience. “Without it,” he argued, “you will give the consumer a bad experience and risk that they will never return.”
What’s more, with search being one of the most popular activities on a mobile device, it is imperative that search results lead to an optimal user experience. “This is why brands must optimize their sites for mobile, and [why] mobile Web will still lead as the main channel next year,” he said.
Petersen may work in glitzy Las Vegas, but the lights don’t blind him to what works in mobile — and what fails.
This is why Caesars’ mobile strategy is squarely focused on delivering user experiences that provide value.
“Mobile is making things easier for consumers,” he said. “You can deposit a check, book a flight or make a dinner reservation. As marketers, we need to keep this in mind. Mobile is here to solve problems.”
And it shouldn’t just be about solving the problems of a select group of individuals (distinguished by their high-end devices or huge appetite for apps). This is why Petersen has purposely included tried-and-true text messaging in his marketing mix. Unsexy, yes. But it is effective. “SMS is an important factor for engagement,” he said. “It’s the only medium that offers 100-percent reach.”
HOW I SEE IT: As I’ve written before — here on MobileGroove and across the other destinations where I contribute guest posts — the travel and tourism vertical gets mobile. Marketers in this industry are among the most active — and most effective. From enabling people to make last-minute bookings using only their mobile phones, to driving on-premises customers to nearby restaurants and shows, companies in this vertical have proven mobile provides convenience and immediacy. Caesars is another great example showing the way forward. As we look to 2013, you have to wonder whether Augmented Reality (AR), a technology gaining serious traction in mobile marketing, might not also hit it big in Vegas (and elsewhere) in 2013. After all, Las Vegas is surely a great fit (can you think of a place more distant from reality?). Granted, usage is small. But next year might be the time for AR to get its day in the big lights.
Mobile Breakfast highlights
Regular readers of this site know how smart Chetan Sharma is about mobile. His quarterly mobile data reports are chock-full of key data points and his events — where MobileGroove is a media partner — are must-attend and standing-room-only. In the past week, he hosted a breakfast event to discuss the state of the mobile industry and where we’re headed next year.
- Tracy Isacke – Director of Investments, Telefónica Digital
- Todd Achilles – VP, Mobility – Americas, HP/formerly with HTC, T-Mobile
- Omar Javaid – Managing Director and SVP, BBO Global/former VP – Google/Motorola
- Zaw Thet – Advisor, Signia Venture Partners/founder 4Info
As expected, the conversation was high-level and honest, not the kind of gathering where you hear hype and outrageous debate about the potential of the mobile wallet replacing cash by next Tuesday, for example.
I’ve gathered some of the best moments and comments here:
Isacke from Telefónica:
- On free messaging apps cutting into operator revenues: “Shame on us as carriers for not innovating in #SMS” like WhatsApp has done.”
- On the dominance of Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android: “It’s “unhealthy” to have a duopoly.
- On wireless adoption: There is still a huge ramp in “normal communities” for wireless adoption versus super-connected places like California.
And there were other noteworthy nuggets. Javaid, for example, commented on the tremendous growth of mobile. As he put it, mobile is “not a first world phenomenon – it’s everywhere.” Meantime, Achilles struck down the myth that one product (or device) could satisfy every need and want. “Every device is a compromise” for users, he flatly stated.
HOW I SEE IT: I met Chetan Sharma nearly a decade ago, and getting to know him has been an ongoing and enjoyable learning experience. He consistently provides a level-headed view of our industry. And he taps invaluable examples and observation to drive his point home. He told us about a trip he took where he saw monks using jail-broken smartphones. It was that a-ha moment. “We realized we have a market,” Sharma said. Of course, he’s right. 2013 will no doubt be even more interesting (and transformational) than what we’ve seen in 2012. Happy days for mobile — and happy holidays to all.