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GUEST OPINION Understanding how to exploit mobile engagement

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Brands and retailers alike know the importance of understanding their customer base and getting close to them. Omid Rezvani, Director of Mobile Commerce Solutions at eCommera discusses the evolution of the mobile channel and what retailers and brands need to consider to exploit it.

There used to be a clear difference between online and offline customer behaviour, but these channels have now blurred. Instead of either purchasing goods and services in a store or purchasing them online, customers are making the transition to ubiquitous retail. They are researching goods and services and making purchases using online, in-store and on-the-move touch points via a wide variety of fixed and mobile devices. In this climate, mobile has become an integral part of retail – and retailers and brand owners have to embrace mCommerce or they will be left behind.

Unlike other devices such as the family PC, mobile devices tend to be uniquely personal. It can be said that mobile devices are the digital personification of the consumer. Consumers take their mobile devices everywhere and use them for everything from emailing and social networking to getting directions, finding stores and checking product information and comparing prices while in shops.

Each of these actions leave a digital footprint and many offer clues as to a customer’s purchasing

intent. As a result, retailers and brand-owners can learn about individual customers’ likes, dislikes and preferences. They then can use this information to offer an enhanced and engaging customer experience by offering personalised, location-specific services and customised communications.

If customers obtain value-added services and enjoy a rich and rewarding shopping experience via

a mobile app, they will be persuaded to use the app on a regular basis. In turn, this will provide the retailer or brand owner with a stream of invaluable data and critical insights into customers’

current and intended purchasing behaviour.

The right app can provide retailers and brand owners with a wealth of invaluable customer information, including:

• Marketing data about different geographical response rates to physical media, such as advertising posters or billboards

• Customer offline behaviour data, including:

– Which stores have individual customers visited and when?

– Which products have customers wanted to know more about while in store?

– What items have customers scanned in order to obtain more information?

– Which of those items did customers subsequently purchase in store?

– Which of those items did customers subsequently purchase online?

– Which of those items were not purchased?

– Which items did customers seek a second opinion about via social media?

All of this data can be derived from customers’ use of a mobile app. The data then can be augmented with information retailers or brand owners may have already captured about customers’ online behaviour, such as:

• Which display ads did customers respond to?

• How long did they spend on the website?

• What did they search for on the site and did they find it?

• Which products are on their wish list?

• Which products have they already purchased?

• Which channels did customers use to make a purchase?

Marketing teams can use this data to run sophisticated and highly-targeted campaigns aimed at individual customers or finely-segmented groups of customers, based on their specific wants, needs and interests and patterns of purchasing behaviour. For example, a campaign could be run that’s aimed at customers who prefer to shop online only; another campaign could be aimed at customers who research offline but shop online.

Instead of spending money on the arguably blunt instrument of SEM, by using a mobile app, marketers can establish a direct connection with the customer and can deliver succinct, context and location-based messages and promotions that are highly personalised.

However, although the data collected from mCommerce can be used to offer customers a high level of personalised service, this data will need to be earnt. Customers will only let retailers and brand owners obtain insights about them if the convenience and value of the services offered via their mobile device outweighs their concerns about privacy.

Retailers and brand owners need to ensure that the data they collect and measure is pertinent to their goals, and will help them measure the success or failure of their multi-channel commerce strategy and ensure that the correct strategic decisions are being made.

In addition, retailers and brand owners will need to make sure they capture data about the behaviour of individual customers across multiple channels and do not collect data about the activity of a customer in one channel, independently of the data collected about the same customer in another channel.

Short codes or QR codes are a powerful tool for retailers and brand owners, as they allow them to capture data about customers while they are on the move, via their mobile devices.

Retailers and brand owners simply advertise a short code in a prominent location, inviting consumers to text in to receive marketing communications, such as details of special offers and price promotions. For example, a retailer could place a poster on a train or on a bus that invites consumers to text EVENT to 60777. An auto-response is then sent to the consumer containing information about the promotions. Alternatively, the poster could contain a QR Code that consumers can scan with their mobile device in order to receive communications.

For little cost, the retailer or brand owner can quickly build up a substantial list of opt-in mobile numbers. They can then use the mobile numbers to run highly-targeted promotional campaigns, which, in turn, can increase the company’s ROI from marketing activities.

To devise a successful mCommerce strategy, retailers and brand owners first need to understand how, and when, their customers use their mobile devices. They need to capture and analyse the right data from mobile commerce and use it to get to know and serve their customers intimately. They can then use mCommerce to generate long term loyalty by engaging with customers as they wish and when they wish.

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