5 “At-the-Ready” Mobile Retail Marketing Strategies – Getting Close and Personal

Posted by Scott Holmes on January 8th, 2014 at 11:45 am

“Location, location, location.” You’ve heard the phrase used in the context of the physical location of your business and how foot-traffic often determines success. This article is not about changing that paradigm or that the location of a store is not important, but rather exploring mobile-based marketing strategies knowing the location of your consumer.

The success or failure of today’s retail business depends on how well you support consumers throughout their shopping journey. Whether checking traffic and weather, your latest Facebook and Twitter posts and offers, or scrolling through reviews from others, consumers have more access to info at the point-of-sale than ever. How do we communicate and embrace customers who now have such power? We call it “At-the-Ready” marketing.

A September, 2013 survey from Local Corporation found that the percentage of shoppers who conduct local research for goods and services on a mobile device nearly doubled in 2013, growing from 34% in 2012 to 73% just this year.

It’s a fine line between push marketing and pull marketing. Combining relevant and timely offers along with authentic and informative content conveniently available upon request is how At-the-Ready marketing works best. Let’s look at 5 At-the-Ready mobile marketing strategies that can deliver powerful and persuasive positive decision-making content where and when it matters most…

1) Social Retail: Bridging the gap between online commerce and in-store experiences. Where is a sales person when you need one most? Many shoppers don’t even look for a sales clerk anymore and when they find one, he or she is often less informed about a product than what one can find within seconds on a smartphone. In the same way Yelp is revolutionizing opinion-making about local products and services, various forms of social media are creating a new universe of mobile marketing and shopping experiences for retail brands. Cyber Monday was a big day for Pinterest as they reported more than tripling the revenue for some retailers. Groupon, Facebook and others are all vying for the consumer’s attention and looking for ways to mobilize retail. We are now able to bring the social media experience right through the front door of retailers and into the point-of-sale. Brand marketers need to insure positive reviews are out there, and seed the social graph with beautiful imagery, informational video and make everything clickable and sharable in order to optimize the user path. A 2013 Adobe Digital Publishing Report on Retail Apps & Buying Habits revealed 88% of mobile shoppers state that friends influence purchase decisions compared with 67% influence of mobile ads. Sephora’s integrated retail/mobile/social strategy provides a contemporary example of harnessing the social masses to shop along with friends. And touchscreens can be placed at strategic locations to encourage such behavior.

2) Digital Coupons: No need to carry around an envelope of coupons in your glove box.

The above Adobe study comparing features mobile shoppers value most showed half to 2/3 claim money-saving offers are most significant. No surprise here…but how does a mobile marketer deliver the offer with relevance? The rise of couponing websites are now standard practice and consumers search such sites before checking out during an online sales transaction, which includes your competitors. Proximity and location-based customized mobile apps now allow notification when you walk into the store and deliver relevant content in real time, such as Apple’s iBeacon with more on the way. At the minimum, make your offers available via your owned and earned media including your Website, Facebook pages and Twitter sphere. And, it would be even more effective to make such coupons restricted in real time and space (“good for the next 15 minutes, at this location only”) to create a sense of urgency on the deal.

3) Concierge Services: Continue the conversation.

On-site mobile delivery of immediate and contextually relevant “concierge” services can facilitate a frictionless sales experience. As we move from a sales funnel to sales hourglass paradigm where customer loyalty breeds consumer advocates who provide earned media opportunities, brand marketers have never before been so keen on a new era of positive relationship building. Loyalists can be rewarded with personal shopping services, special price discounts, frequent purchase points, and time-saving programs that limit one’s time waiting in checkout lines…all of which can increase basket size and visits. Opt-in concierge services can also include service options to lure a customer back to the retail environment, such as having your dry cleaner remind you to pick up your cleaning. Many pharmacies are doing this now with prescription pickup reminders via mobile text. Of course, the more a brand gets “inside the head” of a consumer, the greater the risk of raising privacy concerns and protecting personal information. Sensitivity, restraint and customer comforting are required. The key is to treat your guest like a VIP, and, as humans, we tend to like the status.

4) Pre-paid Convenience: Paying in advance is the ultimate loyalty.

Hot on the heels of the mWallet and mPayments phenomena are individual retail outlet’s own pre-paid mobile apps. Starbucks provides a great example and model for future brand and consumer behavior. Beginning with prepaid loyalty gift cards (still one of the most popular low-cost gifts), moving the concept to mobile provides a whole new dimension of convenience and loyalty. Now, the brand has a direct, two-way communication with a guest that can be leveraged through rewarded services. You can reload money onto the app at a push of a button and it becomes a promotional channel at the same time. What retailer wouldn’t want to turn the concept of gift cards into identifiable opportunities for pre-purchased communication channels to market to their customers?

5) Videographics: No one reads anymore.

While the role of photos and video in mobile here is too broad a topic, one key point that we can discuss in the context of mobile@retail is how imagery can provide critical educational and persuasive components in the decision-making process. Educational videos accessible via one’s website, mobile app, YouTube, eHow, Vine and others can simplify complex functionality, discuss and present clear product features and benefits, and can even cinch purchase by showing ease of assembly and installation. Not to be overlooked are the persuasive emotional aspects of video, as has been understood for over a century in film and TV, and especially in TV commercials. Only video can provide the integrated sight, sound and motion sensory experience which is even more critical for high-end and fashion brand marketing. And today, a product can be clickable within a video by companies like Fuisz who support ingestion and tagging of video content in order to make any video immediately link directly to a relevant commerce page. This technology is the next generation interactive storefront.

These 5 At-the-Ready mobile strategies represent just a few of the many possible applications for mobile@retail today. Brand marketers and retailers alike should be strategizing about closing a sale in new ways…based on the location, location, location of both the physical environment and the customer in that context.

Are you At-the-Ready?

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