With mobile as our canvas, we can create experiences for consumers which are more personalised more context-aware than ever, and delivered in real-time. We have the best possible medium to deliver experiences that engage and delight our consumers. However, we need to first harness this new wealth of data this medium is capable of providing. And that requires a shift in mindset, and the marketing approaches we adopt to acquire, serve and retain our customers. If we are able to do this, we will be delivering more marketing revenue than ever before.
In India we are witnessing this corporate re-engineering and adoption of mobile-enabled business models in many companies. Of course, the internet companies have been the first to realise the business potential of this medium, be it Flipkart, Amazon, Uber or Ola, but even the bricks-and-mortar companies in sectors such as retail, banking or travel are slowly but steadily undergoing a digital transformation.
Companies on the sub-continent are literally skipping the internet e-commerce stage and moving to the mobile commerce stage much faster and more rapidly than their European counterparts. But there are lessons to be learnt and trends to be aware of as we accelerate on this mobile highway.
1. Beware that apps will give way to a more holistic customer experience
Be honest, how many of the apps you have downloaded on your smartphone are you using regularly, if at all? Research indicates that we use only five apps regularly. This app fatigue means that mobile users will be looking for an end-to-end solution or an integrated experience across devices.
2. Build a mobile ecosystem strategy
It’s not just devices that need to integrate, it’s also the partnerships we build outside our solution that need to deliver an integrated experience. An airline company needs to partner with other service providers such as hotels and car rental companies and have payment platforms which provide a seamless and integrated service to travellers.
3. Focus on mapping the customer journey
With mobile, the power balance has tilted in favour of the consumer, and we need to orchestrate a customer experience that unfolds overtime, across multiple channels and according to what the customers’ individual behaviours and preferences are, as opposed to a single channel campaign. We also must use analytics to devise tactics, track and segment customer response and measure success. Marketing leaders should evaluate consumers’ appetites for real-time offerings, flash sales, in-app purchases, and usage-based pricing and test dynamic pricing based on location and time of day. In doing so, we will be delivering an experience that is seamless, highly personal and always relevant. For the company, this provides a competitive advantage, marketing efficiencies, higher customer satisfaction and greater profitability.
4. Unify mobile technologies
The solution isn’t in buying and implementing individual mobile technologies such as SMS, mobile email, push notifications or Passbook. The opportunity lies in unifying mobile technologies and delivering orchestrated experiences that leverage signals from all channels, including connected devices.
Mobile also opens new frontiers for interaction through techniques such as QR and barcode scanning, checking product details by snapping and uploading a photo, using mobile devices as ‘wallets’ for digital payments and reaching a service agent with a click-to-call feature in a mobile app. These experiences speak to the customers based on who they are as individuals and how they’re interacting with your brand in their moments of need.
A unified, consistent, multi-channel strategy is the best way to create a brand engagement that drives loyalty as well as profitability.
5. Mobile moments will shrink to micro moments
A Forrester study defines ‘micro moments’ as those mobile moments that require only a glance to identify and deliver quick information that customers can either consume or act upon immediately. Consumers will still look to apps for complex tasks, but increasingly they expect brands to anticipate their needs with micro moments powered by contextual data and executed with push notifications in the form of text messages or audio to spur them into action. Along with product recommendations personalised to user history and in-session behaviour, content recommendations can be valuable in appealing to customers looking for reviews and more.
Bringing it together: a hypothetical mobile-orchestrated campaign for a shoe store
A major branded shoe retailer operates both online and in-store. Based on product/offer search on its mobile site, the retailer knows customers are looking for a bargain. The customer walks into a bricks-and-mortar store with a sign up front announcing 20 per cent off all shoes to those who text ‘SHOES’ to the retailer’s mobile short code. When the customer does so, he immediately receives an SMS with a short, branded URL that links to a coupon offering a 30 per cent special discount for in-store purchase. They don’t have his size. But it’s no problem. After ordering his new pair of shoes, he receives a mobile-optimised email thanking him for his order. When the product ships, he receives a push notification alerting him to the status and estimated arrival date. He gets another push when the shoes are delivered to his door and he makes a cash-on-delivery payment.
Not only has the customer received a great deal on a product he wants, but also the process is transparent, in real time, and totally customer-oriented.
In India, Adidas and Reebok are on the path to pursue this omni-channel strategy and reports indicate that by 2017 all their stores will be omni-channel ready. That’s a forward-looking strategy!
Mobile marketing is here to stay and we need to seize the opportunity. Yes, it will require shifts in mindset and technology because there is confusion over mobile technologies, funding limitations, and a ‘wait and see’ mindset which has kept mobile from a fast start with marketers. We shouldn’t be satisfied with the status quo, but rather take a bold approach to mobile, it will pay off - both for our customers and our brands.
Rajat Sethi is managing partner of Strategic Caravan International