Learn how brands and retailers are engaging customers with targeted mobile vouchers and timely in-store promotional messages.
With mobile technology now an everyday feature of people’s lives, brands and retailers can use it for engaging customers with targeted mobile vouchers and timely in-store promotional messages.
Mobile engagement is convenient and useful for consumers, and improves retailer’s relationships with customers. However, a badly planned mobile promotion campaign can result in the opposite, so read this chapter for tips on creating a successful campaign.
The current difficult economic conditions mean that consumers are keen to save money wherever possible and expect deals on everything from grocery shopping to going out and travel. A recent YouGov study of 2,100 consumers in the UK found that 82 per cent of people have used a discount or voucher of some kind over the last 12 months. This consumer demand extends to mobile vouchers. One advantage of mobile vouchers is that, unlike paper ones, special offers sent to a mobile phone don’t need to be cut out and carried around. As a result, mobile offers deliver a high return for advertisers, brands and retailers: redemption rates for mobile vouchers stand at 10%, compared to around 1% for paper vouchers. Retailers can use mobile to quickly and easily reach consumers wherever they are, to trigger an immediate response or action. This can be as simple as encouraging people to visit their nearest store branch with a “10 per cent off everything” reminder sent to their mobile phone either the day before a sale, or on the morning of a sale.
What’s on offer?
Mobile promotions come in various shapes and formats:
- They can be as simple as an alpha-numeric code sent as an SMS text message.
- SMS can also be used to send a URL link to a website that leads to the coupon.
- A retailer can also send a coupon as content within an MMS message.
- Retailers with a branded mobile app can send push notifications to smartphone users who have downloaded the app. The notification appears as an on-screen message which leads to a page in the app displaying the voucher. Each type of coupon can be redeemed just by showing the message to the sales assistant at the checkout.
An interactive customer experience in-store
Retailers can use mobile in-store to deliver a more interactive customer experience to shoppers in a way that provides a transactional “money off” offer, and which adds value for the customer in other ways. Example: A supermarket can set up signs in stores that encourage customers to text a keyword – such as “ITALIAN”, “CHINESE”, or “INDIAN” – to a shortcode. The supermarket then sends them an SMS link to a recipe for an Italian, Chinese or Indian meal, plus a money-off voucher to use in-store for one of the main ingredients. This simple and timely mobile-based offer enhances the supermarket’s relationship with customers. It also not only saves them money on an item, the shopper may also then buy other ingredients for the “free” recipe they received.
Another innovative use of mobile for promotional purposes is mobile crediting – that is, where a brand adds redit directly onto a consumer’s mobile bill or pay-as-you-go credit in return for a purchase or redeeming a special offer. Research by mobile engagement expert OpenMarket and research fi rm MobileSQUARED in July 2011 found that over 60 per cent of respondents aged between 16 and 30 would either buy or be more likely to buy a product that offers mobile crediting instead of a similar product. Mobile crediting is therefore an effective promotional technique for brands to drive product sales and also build loyalty with their customers.
Smart mobile engagement
Mobile provides the opportunity for intelligent engagement with offers and coupons that are directly relevant to consumers’ preferences and tastes. In this way, retailers can combine their physical and online assets to boost their existing relationship with customers – and create new sales opportunities as well. A retailer can analyse the purchase history contained on a customer’s store card, including:
- What products they’ve purchased
- When they purchased them
- Which location they purchased them from
- How often they purchase them
This data can be used to send consumers a coupon or promotional message for a product that they’ve either purchased before, or for a related relevant product that other customers with a similar profile have also purchased and which they too might be interested in. This approach can easily be applied for all consumer goods.
Mobile engagement in action
For example: a woman out shopping receives an SMS, MMS or push notification on her mobile phone, offering her a one-hour 30% discount coupon for a nearby branch of her favourite department store. Once in the store, she receives another mobile message listing items that she might like, based on her recent purchases. The woman looks for a jacket, but unfortunately the store doesn’t have it in her size. A helpful sales assistant then looks up the item on their mobile device to check its availability at other stores: they find the right size and arrange for the jacket to be delivered to the woman’s home in a few days time. The store also sends an SMS confirmation to the woman when the jacket arrives at her home. This is a perfect example of how a retailer can use mobile to provide a positive customer experience. In this instance, the woman feels that she is a valued customer, which in turn increases her loyalty to the store’s brand. The department store has also not only created a sales opportunity but also closed a sale that might otherwise have been lost due to a lack of available stock.
Mobile provides the opportunity for intelligent engagement with offers and coupons that are directly relevant to consumers’ preferences and tastes
It’s all about data
Mobile promotions can be used to create a database of customers, as well as expand an existing one or even solely to continue interacting with current customers. For best results in offering tailored, targeted and relevant vouchers and in-store promotions, a retailer needs to:
- Connect and combine the different sets of customer data
- Use data analytics to properly examine them for buying patterns and customer preferences
Any brand or retailer considering a mobile campaign should not be discouraged or feel overwhelmed if it doesn’t have certain parts in place already, such as a smartphone app or an advanced customer data analytics system. A simple and straightforward mobile-based campaign that incorporates existing systems can still deliver new sales opportunities and valuable customer interactions. As retailers become more confi dent and experienced in using mobile, their investment in the channel will increase.