This article originally appeared in MultiChannel Merchant on June 16, 2012.
By now, if you’re not tired of hearing about mobile, you will be soon. There is, however, good reason for all the buzz. A plethora of studies and surveys indicates three trends that should make you drop everything and make sure your mobile marketing strategy is up to snuff.
Trend 1: More consumers are shopping and purchasing on their mobile device, regardless of location
Your customers and prospects are shopping, comparing, downloading and redeeming coupons from their mobile device. They are doing this everywhere—in retail locations, on their couch, and anywhere else they use their mobile device.
Trend 2: Consumers are growing more responsive to SMS offers, and they are redeeming more email offers on mobile devices
26% of consumers receiving text message promotions say that the information has led them to take advantage of the promotion, according to a recent survey. Further, 25% say they at least buy something from the store that sent the promotion.
Text promotions, however, cannot thrive alone. Consumers trust emails and websites more than text messages. These tactics should not be viewed as separate silos of distribution. Rather, the consumer wants them to exist in a way that he or she can fluidly use any option.
Trend 3: More consumers are expecting that their shopping needs can be met on their mobile platform
Across the consumer lifecycle—from searching for a store and making a shopping list, to considering offers, to making a purchase, to sharing offers with friends, all the way to maintaining loyalty program accounts—shoppers want the flexibility to use their mobile devices.
The cost of not meeting these expectations can be higher than just a perceived inconvenience on the part of your shoppers. If you have brick and mortar locations, you should be well aware of the “showroom effect.” Other retailers are, and they’re looking to capitalize on your ignorance.
Even if you’re 100% online, the showroom effect applies. Imagine a man waiting in the airport, shopping on his mobile device for a gift for his daughter’s upcoming birthday. While reviewing built-up offers in his email inbox, he’s probably more likely to use one formatted for mobile which allows him to finish his purchases without squinting or breaking out his laptop. (Don’t forget that location really doesn’t matter anymore; replace ‘waiting at the airport’ with ‘sitting on the couch watching TV’, or ‘spending idle time at work’, and you’ll still find consumers using mobile devices more and more.)
So it’s obvious that mobile is going to become (if it isn’t already) mission critical to meeting your customers’ needs, and your revenue goals. Here are some tips on how to get started now so you’re not left in the dust:
1. Model success
Many retailers are getting mobile right. One that stands out is Home Depot.
Home Depot has covered almost all the mobile use cases. They have apps for the top mobile platforms, plus a mobile-optimized site that allows you to find a store, shop, and even buy items to pick up at a store.
Plus, Home Depot makes great use of text message marketing to notify consumers of current promotions.
Still, Home Depot could expand on their mobile offering by tying in their text message capabilities with a lifecycle marketing management program, allowing them to follow up with targeted email and SMS messaging, thus allowing the fluid experience consumers desire. Overall, they are a step ahead of many retailers in the mobile space.
2. Start small
After reviewing the robust offerings of a giant retailer like Home Depot, don’t try to build Rome in a day. Start small.
Build a responsive email template that is mobile-friendly so your subscribers see your offers, regardless of their device.
Build a mobile-optimized landing page for key offers and promotions. You don’t have to capture every feature of your full site. Think about what a consumer might want to accomplish when accessing your site with a mobile device (maybe the latest offers). Test to verify your assumptions.
Consider building a native mobile application. Perhaps the potential benefits of having an app in addition to a mobile-optimized site are minimal. But don’t rely on your intuition. Ask your customers what they would like to see.
3. Measure the impact (or potential impact)
Find out how many people are accessing your content with mobile devices, and measure the change over time. This may provide the necessary impetus to justify investment in mobile optimization.
Once you begin optimizing for mobile platforms, track the success or lift from the enhancements. For example, you can run A/B tests to see if a responsive email template leads to a better conversion rate for mobile users than a non-responsive one.
Don’t let your consumers brand you as mobile-unfriendly. Embrace the changing way that users access your content, and respond accordingly.