Mobile to deliver on promise of time-sensitive promotions for holidays
October 22, 2013
Macy's mobile app
With better mobile applications, sites, social media integration and in-store experiences, the breakout mobile star this holiday season is exclusive, limited promotions that push consumers to use their smartphones and tablets as part of the shopping experience.
Mobile has made significant strides this year for both brand-building and commerce and will undoubtedly play a big role in holiday marketing spend. In fact, some expect mobile budgets to grow 50 percent year-over-year this year.
“Time-based promotions, as well as mobile-only promotions, will offer a dimension of necessary immediacy,” said Tom Cramer, mobile practice lead and strategy director at Razorfish, New York.
“Macy’s has already announced that shoppers will be able to use their mobile app to view Black Friday specials and create shopping lists a week before Thanksgiving,” he said. “I think that’s just the start.”
“We’ll see a lot of promotions that are time-based and mobile-only, or mobile-inclusive.”
Brands, retailers and marketers have seen a significant growth in mobile over the past year as a integral part of a digital marketing mix.
The change from last year is that marketers will be more inclined to push out a limited-time mobile coupon via an app or offer a personalized mobile coupon based on a consumer’s purchase behavior.
One of the biggest differences with mobile this holiday season will be around more sophisticated mobile sites.
Over the past year, advances in mobile Web have made it much easier for brands to create similar compelling mobile application and Web experiences.
HTML5 in particular has caught on with brands as a way to replicate some of the richer features on the mobile Web that traditionally were only associated with apps.
Additionally, opportunities around adaptive and responsive Web are streamlining how content is viewed across multiple screens.
“I believe we’re going to see a more direct marketers taking better advantage of the mobile Web this year,” said Dave Martin, senior vice president of media at Ignited, El Segundo, CA.
“In the past we’ve seen a lot of app-download campaigns with less of a focus on the mobile Web experience,” he said.
“Many consumers’ primary uses of their mobile devices are engaging in social media and searching for information. And taking someone from those experiences into a Web store is at least one step less complicated than getting them to open, let alone download, an app.”
Similar to mobile Web, mobile search’s role will also grow in importance this year as more retailers up their bets on smartphones and tablets contributing to in-store and online sales.
“We believe that mobile Web, specifically mobile search and retailer sites, will continue to standout this holiday season,” said Brett Leary, vice president/group director of mobile at DigitasLBi, Boston.
“The combination is not only a natural pathway for mobile users to quickly go from query to information in any context, but retailers as well as search providers have made great strides in enhancing the experience in every step along the way,” he said.
Mobile’s role in search will also be leveraged more by brands this holiday season with re-targeting to trigger cross-channel sales.
Marketers will also take into account mobile usage patterns to improve the mobile ad experience this year.
“Search is often the first action consumers take when they are shopping for a product, but that doesn’t mean they are always ready to make a purchase at that time,” said Patrick Albano, vice president of social, mobile and innovation sales at Yahoo, New York.
“Brands are excited about opportunities to re-engage and re-target these consumers on mobile with highly customized offers, personalized ads or ‘drive to retail’ messages,” he said.
Mobile search results on Yahoo's site
Despite the growth of the mobile Web as a tool for consumers, advertising interest will remain rooted in in-app versus mobile Web units, per Mr. Martin.
Take Apple’s new iTunes Radio and Pandora, for example.
Music streaming services has a big opportunity to win over brands that are sick of static banner ads through audio-based targeting.
“In a hyper-tasking world, audio is simple, yet pervasive – it's personal, yet universal,” said Susan Panico, vice president of sales marketing at Pandora, Oakland, CA.
“The convergence of audio, digital and mobile will continue to innovate and transform how brands can impact consumer behavior in a world where the traditional marketing funnel no longer exists,” she said.
A Pandora ad
At the same time that mobile sites are becoming more sophisticated, applications are also growing as gaining a more prominent role as marketers better understand which types of content works best in luring a consumer to download an app.
“I think apps are becoming winners overall because brands are learning how to build utility into them,” said Stephen Burke, vice president of the mobile practice at Resource, Columbus, OH.
“Three years ago, I was an advocate for mobile Web and I still am, but I think that mobile Web and app are neck and neck in providing value,” he said.
For example, Resource worked with Wendy’s on a mobile app that serves up nutritional information to consumers. On top of that utility, Wendy’s is also testing mobile payments in a few different markets.
A screenshot of Wendy's mobile payment app
Mr. Burke singled out consumer packaged goods brands as a vertical that is beginning to plan strategically about investing in mobile this year.
As sales taking place via a smartphone and tablet continue to grow, smart retailers will be aggressive in marketing their apps to not only drive incremental sales, but also build a longer-lasting relationship with consumers.
“Mobile devices will be a differentiator this holiday season, as more shoppers will make actual purchases on their smartphones and tablets and use them increasingly as a shopping research tool,” said Mary Kotyuk, Chicago-based digital account director of North America at Geometry Global.
“To that end, many retailers will be heavily promoting their mobile apps and driving more shopper engagement,” she said.
Social is mobile
Mobile’s role moved beyond being additive to social media this year, evidenced by the significant amount of advertising revenue that both Facebook and Twitter are driving from mobile ad units.
This has also propelled mobile, native advertising forward and will likely affect brands’ media buys closer to the holidays to think mobile-first.
“Our overall thinking is that there’s no obvious standout star for mobile social this season,” said Mark Pinsent, social and content lead at Metia, Kirkland, WA.
“Mobile social has become well-established now, so we think that it will largely be a case of consumers using the current favorites, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, rather than anything new breaking through,” he said.
The launch of Instagram video and Twitter’s Vine this year may also move some brands to crank out more consistent short-form video content closer to the holiday season this year.
Payments take shape
Marketers that most benefit from mobile this year will be those that marry up the in-store experiences with mobile and tablet commerce, according to Wilson Kerr, vice president of business development and sales at Unbound Commerce, Boston.
Although mobile commerce continues to grow significantly, in-store sales are still equally as critical for retailers in supporting their bricks-and-mortar locations.
Additionally, the growth in showrooming shows no signs of slowing down this holiday season, and retailers will feel more pressure to offer compelling in-store experiences if they want to compete with Amazon and others.
“Smart retailers will marry integrated mobile and tablet commerce sites with in-store mobile engagement, via the use of kiosks and other tools that encourage consumers to convert sales via their smart phones, whether they are in store, interacting with an ad or even interacting with a physical product,” Mr. Kerr said.
“Only by accessing the endless aisle and unshackling themselves from the margin-cutting requirement that they have every product color and size in-store and on hand, will traditional retailers be able to compete with the online giants. If done right, mobile will play a pivotal role in this evening of the playing field,” he said.
Lauren Johnson is associate reporter on Mobile Marketer, New York
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Comments on "Mobile to deliver on promise of time-sensitive promotions for holidays"
DaVE Wallace says:
October 22, 2013 at 11:46am