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3 retail tips to go mobile this Christmas and New Year

The outlook for 2011 holiday sales appears to be tepid amid consumer concern over the state of the economy, so savvy retailers are taking matters into their own hands by attracting new customers, generating repeat business, and improving campaign analytics with easy-to-execute mobile marketing programs.

All the evidence suggests this is a sensible move if retailers want to give themselves an added advantage as the battle for shoppers heats up. In 2010, more than a third of smartphone internet users conducted price comparisons of products on their mobile phones before going to the store itself, with almost a quarter doing so on the shop floor.

In 2011, these figures are expected to grow significantly, with comScore reporting a 500 percent increase in mobile web traffic and Gartner predicting mobile web usage will soon overtake browsing from PCs.

Reaching out to customers through their mobile handsets has other benefits for retailers. It allows for highly personalised marketing activity and the ability to create immediate incentives to drive customers to stores. Location tools can also be used as part of the communication and all activity can be tracked and measured to show a clear return on investment.

Despite these compelling reasons, there are a significant number of retailers who haven’t yet developed a strategy to target customers through their mobile devices. For these businesses, here are three ideas to get started.

1. Create a mobile opt-in database
Encouraging customers to register their mobile numbers is an important starting point. The easiest way to do this is to buy a keyword and shortcode through a mobile services provider. This creates an automated system where customers can text the keyword to the shortened mobile number (e.g. text CARD to 19954536) to register to your database.

To encourage registrations, it’s important to show an immediate benefit (e.g. 10% discount in store today) and to display the keyword and shortcode prominently in store, online, and in your existing marketing channels.

By creating a database, retailers can instantly begin targeting customers through SMS, a simple and cost effective way to begin mobile marketing. Research shows that 90% of SMS messages are opened within three minutes of being received, and 99% are opened overall.

These text messages can be used to deliver timely and relevant offers, encourage foot traffic and repeat customers. If used as part of a wider mobile strategy, they can also link through to dedicated mobile content such as store finder tools, exclusive offers, and/or mobile coupons.

2. Create a mobile website
Given the wide variety of mobile devices on the market, a mobile website can offer a much wider reach than a device specific app and can also be used effectively as part of a wider mobile strategy, for example as a landing page for an SMS campaign, allowing you to track clickthrough rates.

Thought should also be given to what content is more appealing to someone browsing via a mobile device rather than on a PC. Helping people check store locations or opening hours, promoting that day’s best buys, or encouraging opt-ins to an SMS service can all be more effective on mobile than your usual web content.

3. Create or enhance loyalty programs
Mobile communication delivers a higher response rate and therefore a significantly increased ROI from loyalty programs. It also allows retailers to accurately time the moment messages are read and which customers receive them, allowing offers to be highly targeted, interactive, and compelling. As a consumer, if I get a special offer for a complementary item to something I’ve already purchased, say insurance for a TV or boots to go with my jeans, I am going to be much more likely to convert on that purchase.

Mobile can be used to distribute coupons and loyalty cards, with unique codes that can be scanned at the point of purchase and their use tracked and evaluated. This can eliminate altogether the need for consumers to carry all those plastic loyalty cards. Also, by eliminating the need for expensive print and distribution, mobile loyalty campaigns can be much more cost effective and friendly to the environment.

Did you know?

  • There are 5.3 billion mobile subscribers in the world, equating to 77% of the population (Nielsen 2011).
  • 71% of adults say they won’t leave the house without their smartphone. (Google & Ipsos 2011).
  • 47% of Australian smartphone internet users have used mobile internet to find out more about a product or service to support a purchase decision and 37% have purchased goods via their smartphone (Nielsen 2011).
  • That in 2011, Amazon will have transacted more than US$2 billion via mobile.
  • EBay predicts US$4 billion or more in transactions via mobile in 2011.
  • Predictions suggest mobile will be the primary internet access route within two years.

In short, the mobile device has become an acceptable, and in many cases preferred, highly effective and rapidly growing consumer channel to market—is your business taking advantage of this?

Roger Woodend is General Manager, 2ergo Australia Pty Ltd.

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Roger Woodend

Roger Woodend

Roger Woodend is the General Manager of 2ergo Australia. A man with a clear vision - to ensure 2ergo becomes THE leading provider of mobile marketing services in Australia. It is this bold outlook that has propelled him through a successful career of over 10 years spanning various markets including the UK, Europe and the US, and which has led him to his role as General Manager of 2ergo Australia. With a background in telecoms, IT outsourcing and systems integration, Roger has extensive experience working with major global corporations including BP, Samsung, Tyco International, Atos Origin and British Telecom (BT). During his career, Roger has held a variety of sales and senior management positions and since his arrival in Sydney he has secured an MBA from Macquarie Business School.

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