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Fresh ways to better engage mobile shoppers

Fresh ways to better engage mobile shoppers Jeff Fagel

The rapid adoption of smartphones and tablets has created an ultra-connected mobile consumer, which has permanently disrupted the shopping experience. With smartphone penetration now more than 50 percent and tablet penetration at 25 percent (thanks to the iPad), it's no surprise that internet traffic on mobile devices is expected to soon eclipse desktop visits. We've also seen mobile email open rates overtake the desktop -- according to Litmus, mobile email open rates are now 43 percent vs. desktop at 32 percent. As more purchasing decisions become aided by mobile devices, savvy marketers need to shift their focus to stay ahead of the mobile purchasing phenomenon.

How to break through

Effective marketing to the ultra-connected consumer today requires a mobile-first strategy that should address the challenges that are fundamentally disrupting the consumer shopping experience. Is your marketing plan putting an omni-channel, ultra-connected consumer first? If not, here are five tips to help you succeed with mobile consumers.

Mobile is a behavior, not just a channel

Mobile devices have become a habit we've integrated into our daily lives that have dramatically changed the ways we interact with the world. According to eMarketer, 80 percent of consumers check their devices within the first 15 minutes after waking up. Not only is mobile becoming a large part of our lives, but it's also transforming the traditional path to purchase -- with mobile consumers increasingly looking to embrace their phones for digital payments. In fact, 79 percent of mobile consumers are using their devices to aid in shopping activities, and 70 percent use their devices in store.

In response to this trend, many retailers have taken the approach of interrupting consumers from every angle. Businesses are infiltrating Facebook updates or pushing constant Twitter feed updates that are all trying to drive consumers to different points of engagement -- whether ecommerce sites, YouTube videos, etc. But to make mobile advertising worth your while, it needs to be relevant, contextual, and engaging. In other words, you need to consider how consumers already interact with their devices and take advantage of that behavior. Sending an email offer that can be redeemed at a store a consumer already shops at will be far more effective than expecting someone to click through to an ad on YouTube.

Personalization at the time of need gains brand loyalty

A recent online survey by Harris Interactive found that consumers are increasingly making purchase decisions based on how effective brands are in tailoring a desired shopping experience at the time of need. Consumers are not only expecting tailored experience as part of their shopping experience, but they also gravitate toward retailers that offer more customizable options or the ability for the consumer to interact on their own terms.

Let's take Groupon as an example. Blasting out cellulite-reduction and storage unit rental offers to your entire member base isn't the most personal approach and their conversion rates show it. Instead try to distribute offers in a way that shows you know your customers, returning to the one-on-one engagement of the brick and mortar days. If you have customer profiles or spending data that can be taken advantage of, you can easily tailor your interactions to customer habits -- similar to what card-linked offer companies are doing. If you know that customers are frequent Dunkin' Donuts visitors, you can target them with offers to try new coffee flavors or to get a free donut with their coffee purchase.

Mobile search is driving more purchase conversions

 From Path to Shopkick to Foursquare, social engagement startups have lured brands with the promise of mobile consumer engagement. However, the verdict is still out on their ability to drive loyalty, brand connection, or revenue to local merchants.

Google is still king when it comes to local and mobile. The use of mobile search by consumers during the path to purchase is directly related to the context and location of the search and these searches result in higher conversions overall. According to a new study by Google and Nielsen, nearly a quarter of paid search clicks now stem from mobile devices. To take advantage of mobile, you must have a mobile search strategy that includes plans for SEM, SEO, and product listing ads. The strategy should also look forward to social search options -- such as Twitter's new intent based search.

Design for mobile

Seamless, the growing online and mobile food ordering service, is seeing mobile play a big role in the company's ongoing efforts. On weekends, in particular, the company has also seen mobile orders increase from 10 percent to 40 percent. According to Seamless' vice president of marketing, Ryan Scott, the company considers mobile to be part of its bread and butter. As such, the company takes a mobile first approach to its customers -- tailoring application design, development, features, and marketing to the end-user. Winning mobile experiences must be unique and optimize for both the audience you're trying to reach and the user's context to win. They must also take different devices and operating systems into account to make for consistent experiences.

Simple wins

Anything that adds work on the consumer side -- from scanning QR codes or filling out mobile sweepstakes forms to printing coupons -- sounds good on paper, but today's mobile consumer quickly tires of novelty that requires effort. With most mobile consumer sessions averaging about 15 seconds, the easier you can make things for the shoppers to engage is more important than how fun it is. For example, according to a PayPal commissioned Forrester study, PayPal tapped into existing behaviors with its two-step, mobile express checkout that has increased mobile sales conversion by 30 percent and increased retailers' incremental sales by 35 percent. You can argue with the specifics, but the key is making it simpler for consumers. With PayPal your payment account is already linked, which makes it easier for consumers to say yes to a mobile purchase.

The implications of mobile for marketers are clear: Marketers who want to succeed at mobile must understand the motivations, behaviors, and varying omni-channel paths to purchase and provide relevant, contextual, and engaging experiences. If they don't, consumers will quickly move on to competitors who do.
Jeff Fagel is vice president of marketing for edo Interactive.

On Twitter? Follow Fagel at @jf1216. Follow iMedia Connection at @iMediaTweet.

"Shopping girl laughing looking at the screen of her portable" image via Shutterstock.

Jeff Fagel is Vice President, Marketing and Brand Development at edo Interactive, a venture-backed start-up that helps advertisers connect online advertising with in-store results.  With more than 15 years of brand marketing experience, Fagel...

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