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Three easy ways retailers can leverage mobile for the Christmas and New Year break


The outlook for 2011 holiday sales appears to be tepid amid consumers 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.

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% 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 that 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 click-through 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 normal 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$2bn via mobile;
  • eBay predicts US$4bn or more in transactions via mobile in 2011;
  • Predictions suggest mobile will be the primary internet access route within 2 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?

With over 10 years’ experience spanning various markets including the U.K., Europe and the U.S., Roger Woodend works with major global corporations including BP, Samsung and BT. Since his arrival in Sydney, Roger has secured an MBA from Macquarie Business School. Readers can write to [email protected]