As retailers prepare for the 2011 holiday shopping season, they must be quick to innovate and offer new experiences across channels. One outlet for doing so is mobile initiatives including short message service (SMS), applications and quick response (QR) codes, which forward-thinking retailers are tapping to reach shoppers directly through their mobile device.
These tactics were explored and discussed during the recent Mobile Marketer webinar titled "5 Last Minute Tips for Effective 2011 Holiday Mobile Marketing.” During the presentation, Jason John, Senior Director of Marketing for Gilt Groupe, provided insight on the success of the flash sale site’s mobile strategy and how retailers can streamline their strategies to boost brand image. Other panelists included Sonali Shah, Director of Product Management at Syniverse Technologies; Laura Marriott, CEO of NeoMedia; Kathryn Koegel, Chief of Insights at Primary Impact; and Helene Rosenblum, VP of Media for Leapfrog Online.
Although gamification strategies such as limited inventory and shorter sales encourage Gilt Groupe shoppers to move to check out, the e-Tailer has extended its reach by sending sale reminders via email, push notifications and providing media-rich applications for the iPhone, iPad, Android and Blackberry. While some retailers have similar cross-channel strategies in place, they are not uniform, causing siloed messaging and an unpleasant experience, according to John.
“There’s a lack of parity between products and promotions,” John said. “Consumers are not looking at a brand’s mobile presence as a silo, but as the entire brand experience.” John explained that retailers must ensure that all marketing messages and overall brand image are consistent, with mobile as part of an overall strategy.
To optimize holiday mobile marketing initiatives, personalization is key, according to Shah. “The more personalized and unique the message, the more effective it tends to be,” she said. “This especially is the case in mobile marketing where consumes are paying for the delivery.”
One strategy examined in detail was text-message marketing, which allows retailers to send timely announcement and incentives to consumers who opt in. Due to Gilt Groupe’s time-sensitive format, the retailer experiences a consistent surge in engagement via SMS. “We do see a very large spike in mobile traffic when we do push notifications,” John explained. “More than with email, we see the immediacy of mobile, with recipients often launching the app seconds after the notification has been delivered.”
However, successful SMS campaigns rely on parameters such as timing and frequency, according to Koegel. “For SMS, retailers need to learn from email marketing,” she said. “If retailers plan on slightly pushing the frequency, they have to monitor the opt-out rates, as well as the days and times.”
Relevancy also is another key factor in driving click-through rates to e-Commerce sites and applications. “Make sure you have something to say,” John explained. “Relevancy is important in any channel in which retailers communicate with consumers. If it’s relevant, say it, but if it’s not important, then don’t.”
While retailers such as Gilt Groupe excel in integrating SMS, applications and mobile web, Rosenblum noted that retailers should avoid the mobile bells and whistles. “The biggest challenge we’re seeing is there’s so much information about the exciting new things going on in mobile that retailers are getting caught up in it and not focusing on meeting the needs of consumers,” she explained. “Think about why your consumer will be interacting with your mobile site and mobile initiatives, and if you’re making it easy for them to take action.”
A top example of seamless mobile initiatives is Target, according to Koegel. The retailer integrated circulars into its iPad application to allow easy access to discounted items. To promote holiday sales, the app contains a tap-and-drag feature so shoppers can put items in their digital carts and make purchases easily.
Multiple retailers have released themed holiday mobile applications and incentives to boost foot traffic and click-through rates. However, retailers must consistently carry optimal experiences throughout the year, John explained. “If you are making promises, and delivering a certain level of quality, you need to follow that through afterwards,” he said. “The commitment to mobile has to be there, not a commitment to holiday.”
To access an archived version of the webinar, click here.