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Closing the impression-to-redemption loop

JCPenney lets shoppers redeem mobile coupons at PO

Redemption of mobile coupons via 2D-bar-code readers is the way of the future for retailers

Marketers are continually trying out various channels to connect with tech-savvy consumers and reach them in a new and unique way. However, getting that initial tap and seeing it through the entire redemption process is still a challenge for many.

Marketers across the board understand that mobile marketing is prolific in transforming the physical and emotional bond between brands and consumers. However, while the growth of mobile and mcommerce outpaces many other platforms, mcommerce revenue has yet to accurately reflect how impactful mobile marketing is to total sales, per industry experts.

“Mobile marketers are facing tremendous pressure to publish product content that is compelling, complete, accurate and up-to-date,” said Steve Cole, chief marketing officer of Gladson.

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“That pressure becomes insurmountably greater when mobile marketers try to ensure product content on mobile platforms is consistent with product content in store, online, in print materials, and in various third-party outlets,” he said. “It is well-established that consumers today are looking for a seamless shopping experience.

“While that seamlessness can encompass everything from customer service, to pricing, to logistics, one of the most important areas for marketers to focus on is that products have a cohesive brand identity from impression to redemption.”

Happy medium
According to Mr. Cole, consumers have little patience for feeling confused or misled during their path to purchase.

Product images, attributes and packaging information should be consistent throughout all touch points to help that consumer navigate from impression to redemption.

Nowadays, consumers are hungry for product information and are gradually turning to various channels to help them in their question.

Using this knowledge, marketers can empower consumers – and their brands – by providing compelling, accurate, consistent and relevant product content when and where consumers need it.

“While mobile applications will continue to empower the in-store experience, mobile commerce is emerging as its own destination through exclusive value-add content,” Mr. Cole said.

“This can include in-depth product information, purchase recommendations, nutritional information and recipes, gamification, loyalty programs and more,” he said. “The increasing availability of in-store pickup options is also contributing to the growth of mcommerce.

“This is especially true in the grocery segment as shoppers want to browse, select and transact their grocery and household purchases through mobile devices. Consumers expect those items to be ready for pickup when they arrive at their local grocery retailer to create an efficient, hassle-free shopping experience.”

Key to the puzzle
According to Vanessa Horwell, chief visibility officer of ThinkInk, Miami Beach, FL, there are two major problems that need to be tackled to help marketers overcome the impression to redemption obstacle.

The first concerns information inundation.

Now, more than ever, marketers are saturated with data gathered from smartphones. Managing today’s information windfall is extremely challenging and requires software and staff trained in distinguishing the signal from the noise of customer wants, needs and desires.

Otherwise, much of the data collected is essentially meaningless. Turning data into actionable steps to promote engagement is key.

The second biggest challenge as related to data and measurement comes down to privacy – a topic which thanks to the recent IRS and now CIA phone records, surveillance leaking is particularly pressing.

“For instance, some 15 million Americans are victims of identity theft annually, with financial losses as high as $50 billion,” Ms. Horwell said. “That’s why it’s imperative that brands that do rely on mobile-based data gather it in an opt-in manner, guarantee not to sell that data to a third and the data that is collected, is gathered in an anonymous manner.

“The lines between the offline and online worlds continue to blur and for marketers it’s become a more fluid, more confusing retail experience,” she said. “Consumer-first impressions might, for instance, begin in a bricks-and-mortar store, only for them to use showrooming tactics via their smartphone and buy elsewhere or online.

“Or they might see a television advertisement or digital sign only to follow up with a product offering on a tablet. With this kind of dynamic in play, consumers must be engaged through all marketing channels they interact with. In this context engagement includes many tactics, such as effective loyalty programs that do more than offer points for rewards, price transparency between competitors, product information and of course, knowledgeable sales staff that connect with customers in a genuine manner and ultimately upload any personal insights gained into the brand’s CRM program.”

Continuous challenges
For many marketers, the biggest challenge right now is tracking the individual throughout the customer journey.

The online world has a lot of that trackability built-in to follow a consumer in the ecommerce world from initial point of contact through purchase completion.

However, the ability to collect data during the discovery, engagement, purchase and transaction process is not being done well by marketers in the mobile space.

“Privacy is also a big challenge,” said Jeremy Agulnek, senior director of product management at Vibes. “A standard for tracking mobile users has not been widely adopted that ensures privacy.

“Solutions today, like using mobile Web browser cookies for example, bring to bear privacy concerns that need to be addressed,” he said. “Additionally, mobile has a location component, allowing marketers to not just know who a consumer is, but where they are at a point in time.

“This is a higher order issue that doesn’t really apply in the desktop setting. An effective way for marketers to close the loop is to send a mobile message with a unique, trackable shortened URL or a unique ID tied back to the individual. This allows downstream interactions to be tied back to the initial point of engagement, providing a bridge of the mobile touch points that lead to in-store or online interaction.”

To overcome these obstacles, Mr. Agulnek suggests that marketers include individually unique data.

For example, instead of a general URL in a text or mobile call-to-action, marketers should make sure the messages are uniquely tied to that individual recipient through a unique URL or individualized offer. 

Additionally, marketers can provide channel specific promotion codes. This lets them understand which channels are more effective for their audience.

Finally, companies should integrate CRM data in a mobile marketing platform.

“We are seeing a maturing of the market,” Mr. Agulnek said. “More marketers are beyond the test and learn phase of mobile, where they now expect advanced CRM functionality from their mobile platform.

“They want to leverage their wealth of consumer data to segment their mobile database and send more targeted, personalized messages,” he said.

Massive data
One of the biggest stumbling blocks for mobile marketers right now is finding the customer insights hidden in massive data sets, per Brendan O’Kane, CEO of OtherLevels.   

Collecting a lot of data is easy; interpreting that data correctly is far more complex.

“As mobile devices – which are set to outnumber people this year – are rapidly becoming the primary Internet gateway for most of the world’s consumers, many brand marketers are tapping their revenue potential,” Mr. O’Kane said. 

“Thankfully we are seeing a transition in mobile as marketers are realizing the need for sophisticated mobile analytics and measurement tools as crucial components of their mobile campaigns,” he said. “Accurate data interpretation is the key to creating messages that add actual value to customers’ lives by speaking to their personal preferences and interests.”

For marketers to close the loop from impression to redemption they must think about the scientific method. 

“In science, careful measurement is what turns observations into hypotheses and theories and, in a few cases, widely-accepted laws of nature,” Mr. O’Kane said. “Most of what scientists do, in the lab or in the field, is measuring over and over. 

“We have a similar scenario with mobile marketing,” he said. “As customers interact with mobile messages, their choices of where to tap or swipe leave a data trail that, when correctly interpreted, reveals what kind of message content, length and tone are most likely to elicit a conversion from each customer.” 

“So, by using measurement techniques like A/B split testing and retargeting, which have been helping print, radio, TV and desktop Web marketers decipher customer preferences for decades, and applying them to mobile, marketers can really get to know their customers individually. And knowing what makes your customers tick – and buy – is the key to giving them offers that are relevant to their interests.”

When it comes to mobile measurement, there is an ideal flow. 

According to the executive, first there is action analytics. This means that marketers need to look at the messages they are sending and take into account data such as number of messages opened, time since a customer last opened one of their messages and opens resulting in goals such as registrations, purchases or social shares. 

“Armed with this information, marketers can then create different versions of a single message and send them out to statistically-significant samples of their target audiences,” Mr. O’Kane said. “These A/B split tests clearly show which messages get the strongest response in terms of desired conversions. Those winning messages can then be disseminated to wider audience segments. 

“After that, it’s time to retarget customers who either did not open the original message – be it a push notification, a mobile email or an in-app alert – or who opened the message but didn’t convert,” he said. “Marketers can use A/B split test results to retarget unresponsive customers with messages that have, perhaps, a different tone, a more enticing offer or a more urgent call-to-action.

“Customers can be retargeted again and again – using the information gathered through previous measurement to pinpoint the right content and frequency for these follow-up messages.”

Final Take
Rimma Kats is associate editor on Mobile Marketer, New York

Associate Editor Rimma Kats covers media, television, research and social networks. Reach her at rimma@mobilemarketer.com.

 
Related content: Strategy, mobile marketing, mobile

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