Mobile: Tracking From Promotion Through Purchase

mobile coupon tracking redemptionIn mobile marketing, data is big — and marketers can win even bigger when they build the capabilities to collect and track performance data across their campaigns from the moment the ad/promotion/perk is delivered, all the way through the point-of-sale to the purchase data outputs that show conversion. This data (THROUGH purchase) is clearly the ‘Data Nirvana’ marketers, brands and retailers have been waiting for. The bottleneck has always been how to track and connect mobile ads to real-world purchases.

And this really has been called out as one of the great inhibitors to unleashing spend into digital, primarily mobile.  In a 2012 Business Insider Report, Michael Collins (then) of the mobile agency Joule said, “If mobile commerce can connect specific mobile ads to specific consumer purchases, that could double the $1.2 billion U.S. mobile ad industry.”

Enter a digital, mobile and social point-of-sale redemption platform from Sparkfly that enables advertisers to track the effectiveness and ROI of each mobile advertising channel, revealing real-time campaign action behavior that allows them to tailor future promotions to each individual customer based on their purchasing behavior.  Simply put, a solution to close the loop and allow attribution has arrived.

The news is not just that we have the technology to track the entire lifecycle of a digital offer or promotion from the moment it is distributed, all the way to its redemption in the real world. It is the confirmation that mobile, digital and social have the power to drive real-world purchase decisions and actions.

Indeed, mobile, in its new role as the ‘connective tissue’ that joins together the digital and physical worlds, is evolving to give an entirely new dimension to people’s experiences, thus enabling marketers to achieve new levels of continuous customer touch and interaction.

This the key takeaway of Mobile: The Great Connector, a new publication I have researched, written and produced on behalf of the Mobile Marketing Association (MMA) in the U.K. (FREE TO DOWNLOAD HERE.) Drawing from research and exclusive brand interviews, I have identified the key components and approaches businesses can use (and are already using!) to drive real results (conversions) in the real-world.

Closing the loop

That’s where Sparkfly comes in. The company’s platform takes brands and retailers Web, social and mobile promotions and tracks the consumer engagement through the retail, grocery or restaurant point-of-sale, opening up access to real-time intelligence about how, when and why the offers worked or didn’t.  This allows advertisers to see which offer, by channel, produced the highest ROI.  Those ROI metrics could also include, time to promotion save (can be saved to Apple Passbook or self-texted), time to redemption and total ticket value.

In a way, Sparkfly has also become a kind of ‘connector’— bringing together the stakeholders (brands, retailers and app companies) to enable mobile campaigns that drive and track in-store conversion and customer engagement — underlining the role of mobile as the ‘Great Connector’ that turns advertising into activation.

By way of background, Sparkfly,with more than 20 patents,enables secure real-time validation and redemption of coupons and offers through integration with in-store, point-of-sale systems. In practice Sparkfly’s technology tracks the entire ecosystem of an item-specific digital promotion from the moment that promotion is distributed, all the way to its redemption through the point-of-sale. People are also part of the equation since the technology tracks every consumer action (but not the individual consumer of course!) to the individual item (as identified by the item’s unique code or SKU).

So how big is this opportunity?

Research firm eMarketer reported in October that the rise of the smartphone is a boon to couponing; predicting that the number coupon redemption would increase 11 percent, which is a much revised upward forecast from the 4.5 percent they previously estimated.  eMarketer also reckons approximately half of U.S. adults (102.5 million) will redeem a digital coupon, a figure set to rise to nearly 60 percent of adults by 2015.  Nearly all of this growth can be attributed to mobile.

Indeed, device-based coupon use will grow 40.9 percent this year, as 42.1 million Americans use their phones to redeem an offer. This growth comes after a 60.6 percent spike in mobile couponing last in 2012 and will continue to increase until 2015, when we hit 74.1 million mobile users redeeming a coupon.  So, it’s BIG.

Groupon drives deals, tracks conversions

Groupon — a company sharply focused on mobile and fully aware of the need to bridge the gap between its online and mobile experiences — senses the business opportunity here.

In November the leader in daily deals and local commerce teamed up with Sparkfly as part of a larger strategy to offer its large retail accounts the ability to measure the effectiveness of their campaigns (through to offer redemption) and — more importantly — provide deep consumer insights around these conversions.

Armed with analytics Groupon merchants can better understand (and measure) the success of their marketing campaigns. This real-time data also helps Groupon and its merchants to better understand what shoppers are buying, allowing them to update and optimize their offers to further drive results and potentially improve ROI.

Under the partnership, Groupon will integrate its mobile app with Sparkfly’s platform for in-store, real-time redemption of Groupon deals. The two companies will test the integrated platform with several major national retail and restaurant outlets, with plans to ultimately roll out the solution to a broad range of national chains.

Connecting mobile apps to in-store conversions

A few months earlier beauty brand L’Oreal decided to take the plunge with a program that ran at all the Walgreens/Duane Reade stores in New York City and involved Pretty in my Pocket Inc. (PRIMP), a mobile social beauty shopping and sharing platform and app. PRIMP partnered with Sparkfly to launch, deliver and track closed loop, in-store mobile promotions.

With all the pieces (and stakeholders) in place the program allowed L’Oreal to offer “Perks,” part of PRIMP’s discount and incentivizing program, to consumers who used PRIMP’s mobile app at Walgreens and Duane Reade stores in Manhattan, New York. PRIMP users that scanned or searched for a L’Oreal product via the app received item-specific information including how-to videos, reviews, color swatches, as well as “Perks” they could redeem at the check out.

closing the loop mobile promotion and tracking

In this scenario, PRIMP is more than a mobile app that can influence consumer behavior at the moment of inspiration and intent. Through the partnership with Sparkfly, the mobile app can also bridge the physical and digital worlds, allowing brands (in this case L’Oreal) and bricks-and-mortar retailers (in this case Walgreens and Duane Reade) to trigger and track sales online and offline.

More on Mobile Presence Podcast

Connect the dots, and real-time transaction data linked to real-time transactions is an incredibly powerful tool for brands and marketers to test, learn and implement campaigns that bridge our digital and physical worlds to deliver amazing results for the entire business ecosystem.

This is precisely why I invited Catherine Tabor, Sparkfly founder and CEO, to be our guest over at Mobile Presence, the weekly Internet radio show I co-host over at WebmasterRadio.FM. (Although I have to admit I also admire Catherine for being a very cool ‘woman in tech’.)

Her company isn’t new—it’s new to market.  It was actually founded about 10 years ago as an employee redemption platform. That platform evolved and remains a product line for the company, but Catherine saw the opportunity at the point-of-sale and wanted to resolve some of the data friction between brands and retailers.  After acquiring an additional tech platform, she began the extraordinarily difficult job of tying back one to one promotions at the point-of-sale.  She established relationships and integrations with nearly every major point-of-sale provider.  Now, with more than 20 patents and extensive knowledge and success in-market, she brought the company out of stealth in July of this year.  In that short time, she’s launched the major L’Oreal/Walgreens campaign, launched an expanded partnership with NCR and launched with Groupon and their major accounts.  So she cracked the code — and she now leads the digital attribution data industry.

As Catherine put it: The data we gather enables retailers and brands to collaborate in new ways. The ability to track what’s working at the register means retailers can start to leverage and benefit from the loyal following of the brands they carry. For example, they might decide to invite consumers responding to an offer to join the store’s own loyalty program, creating a one-to-one relationship with consumers that didn’t exist before.

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My Take:

Mobile is the connector — and a company like Sparkfly is the orchestrator. By bringing together the stakeholders and closing the loop on conversions/transactions, marketers and brands are one giant step closer to gaining the real-time insights that will allow them to prove ROI and improve their results. More importantly, having a feedback loop allows marketers to argue the all-important causal connection between mobile promotions and physical purchases. In this case, it’s all about product redemption triggered by mobile and completed in-store — and the deep insights into customer purchase behavior that can be gleaned from enabling and measuring this consumer journey.

Information is power, which is why it is critical to understand (and measure) how mobile technology can drive in-store conversion. By leveraging point-of-sale performance data that retailers share, brands have the ability to track every offer in detail—down to when and if an offer was redeemed, at what different locations, at what times of the day and on what days of the week. Having detailed data about buyer behavior equips brands to optimize their offers in real-time and so target their offers to the highest value consumers.

These insights also allow for deeper engagement and ultimately pave the way for a far more personalized shopping experience.

Mobile has indeed become the connective tissue and Mobile: The Great Connector has been created to help you understand and manage all the moving parts that make up today’s campaigns. Download your free copy here.


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