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Mobile Engagement Can Drive Significant Holiday Spending This Year

Mobile Engagement Can Drive Significant Holiday Spending This Year iMedia Editors
On the Eve of Black Friday, I walked by a long line circling Best Buy in San Jose, CA. Hundreds of people--young and old--were waiting patiently for the electronics giant to open their doors early, giving eager shoppers a jump on their holiday shopping. I stopped for a few minutes and noticed that roughly 60% of shoppers had smart phones in hand with their eyes glued to small screens. Yes, some were doing non-shopping related activities, but my suspicion is that a fair number of people were doing a little last minute online comparison shopping before the store opened.

With the increased adoption of smart phones, and the still precarious state of the economy, 2011 has seen the emergence of the savvy mobile shopper - they are more informed, have access to real-time information on the go, and are hungrier than ever to find the best deals available. Based on a recent study by the National Retail Federation, 50% of consumers will use their smart phones this year to buy goods, look for local deals, and grab special discounts and mobile coupons. And, Google forecast that 15% of total Black Friday searches would come from mobile devices. If true, that behavior should remain consistent throughout the rest of the holiday season.

But, even amid all the predictions of huge spikes in mobile commerce activity this year, how many retail brands are prepared? Do they have their mobile marketing offensive lined up and ready to go? Are “app-happy” brands thinking about how to really engage consumers when they are most likely to make a purchase?

Because most e-commerce sites are in code lock for the rest of the holiday season, and retailer email campaigns have already been created and scheduled, let’s talk about how mobile can drive consumer spending during an in-store experience.

It’s About Perfect Timing: Engage Consumers While They’re In Your Store

Put yourself in the shoes of a shopper. You’re in a “big brand” retail store and you quickly research a product that you’re interested in on your smart phone. Do you open the retailer application while shopping? Do you even have it on your phone? If you did, then the likelihood of finding a mobile coupon is very slim. Then, you see banner next to the doorway of the store. It says to text a keyword to a five-digit short code, or take a picture of the QR code displayed, and you will receive an extra 10% off your purchase. Of course, you would need to opt into the “big brand’s” mobile marketing list. We barely give a second thought to providing an email to find out about special sales, so giving a brand your phone number seems like reasonable exchange for a mobile coupon to a retailer that you’re about to do business with. If Best Buy had promoted a mobile call to action for people queued out front of their store, my guess is that most people would have taken them up on the offer.

Think about it. When shoppers go to a store, most have their phones in their pockets or bags. A simple in-store promotion that invites them to pick up a mobile coupon, at the exact moment when consumers are inspired to make a purchase, is a fun, engaging, and useful way that a brand to connect and forge a brand relationship.

Use Mobile Engagement to Gather Consumer Intelligence and Mobile Lists

Mobile engagement is much more than just offering mobile coupons and e-commerce. It’s also about consumer intelligence. Asking shoppers to quickly provide an answer to a mobile poll in exchange for a coupon, such as, “Why did you visit our store today?” or “Who are you buying gifts for today?” not only provides you with valuable insight, but also the customer’s mobile phone number that can be synced with your CRM system, giving you a 360 degree view of a customer. Or, maybe you have created a relationship with a customer who you haven’t engaged with before (someone not in your database). Even better.

Make Your Mobile List Work for You

Ok, so you’ve created a mobile engagement campaign in your store, gathered consumer intelligence, and have a sizable mobile list. What next? One of the biggest mistakes that most marketers make when it comes to mobile promotions is treating the mobile channel like any other social marketing channel. Successful mobile promotions must be timely, relevant, and be spaced out every two-three weeks. Timely means that you’re offering a limited time promotion--something that a consumer would need to act on quickly. Relevant, in this context, means that the offer should be available locally and/or something that you already know would be of interest (i.e. a product you know that a consumer has put in their online wish list or an exclusive mobile offer). And, since this is an interrupt-driven channel, marketers should not overuse the mobile channel or risk being perceived as spam and increased opt-out rates.

Adopt a Mobile New Year’s Resolution

Whether these promotions drive consumers to a mobile shopping experience or an in-store visit, they can increase revenue, if executed in a thoughtful way. By implementing initiatives that preserve consumer trust and offer value at every interaction, you will build loyalty, sales and increase your marketing momentum throughout 2012.

iMedia Communications, Inc. is a trade publisher and event producer serving interactive media and marketing industries. The company was founded in September of 2001 and is a subsidiary of Comexposium USA.  ...

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