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How to create a love affair between mobile and Valentine?s Day

Because mobile marketing strategies matured throughout 2010, Valentine?s Day efforts using the medium will be more sophisticated than ever before with video, SMS, coupons and loyalty programs topping marketers? to-do list.

Valentine?s Day marks one of those unique times of the year when a brand?s target audience changes. For example, a retailer such as Victoria?s Secret might target women most of the time, but changes advertising and promotions around Valentine?s Day to woo men to buy gifts for their special ladies.

?Of course, marketers come to work during this period with the same mission as always ? drive trial and sales and build loyalty,? said Jeff Hasen, chief marketing officer of Hipcricket, Kirkland, WA.

?The wise retailer will differentiate long before the frenzy of Valentine?s Day buying begins,? he said. ?Advertising and offers now lead to preference when consumers rush to fill their Valentine?s Day needs.?

Victoria's Secret campaign geared towards men

Mobile video
Mobile video is going to be a popular marketing tactic for Valentine?s Day. Video evokes an emotional response from viewers and that is perfect for Valentine?s Day, when people are trying to be romantic and make their loved ones happy.

Large retailers are using traditional online and television tactics, and applying them to mobile. 

Mobile video advertising has matured to the point where retailers can now advertise their brands through the use of sight, sound and motion and then let consumers make an impulse purchase right from their device at the end of the ad.

Mobile video will be a powerful marketing tool for Valentine?s Day, as more consumers are using their devices for shopping.

Specific to Valentine?s Day, retailers can let consumers click to call for a customer representative or to download the advertiser?s shopping application. Consumers can click to be brought to a mobile commerce-enabled site, so they can buy right then and there.

All these methods can be used as ?just-in-time advertising? to push perishable items. 

?Marketers who have a strategy to sponsor seasonal events like Valentine?s Day tend to provide special offers,? said Michael Hirshoren, vice president of sales at Rhythm NewMedia, New York. ?These tend to be products directly related to an event like Valentine?s Day.

?Rhythm has seen an increase in retail advertisers around seasonal events,? he said. ?These include large retailers or luxury retailers. The strategy tends to roadblock or advertise high share of voice leading up to Valentine?s Day. 

?This is different than other CPG, auto or financial advertisers that might have a consistent quarterly message. I believe consumers are starting to understand they can find mobile offers the same way they experience on TV or online.?

Perishable inventory
Valentine?s Day is known for perishable inventory such as flowers, cakes and chocolates.

Once the holiday is over, a lot of this inventory has gone to waste, along with retail dollars spent on it. 

Mobile is a great way for brands and retailers to move perishable inventory.

?Moving perishable goods is one of mobile?s key differentiators,? Hipcricket's Mr. Hasen said. ?Giving consumers what they want at the time that they will act is of utmost importance.

?We love salmon in my house,? he said. ?We love it more when it?s on sale. The great opportunity is to have me opt-in to a top retailer who will send me offers late in the day when I?m on my way home and more likely to purchase.

?Retailers can prove this capability before Valentine?s Day and have a regular customer moving forward.?

Dan Slavin, CEO of CodeBroker, Belmont, MA, agreed that moving perishable goods is mobile?s specialty.

The reason is because of the channel's immediacy, especially SMS.

 ?Yes, this is one of the great uses of mobile marketing and where mobile loyalty can really shine,? Mr. Slavin said. ?Retailers have the ability to reach-out to people instantly to get them to come into the store to get the best prices on perishable items.?

Mobile loyalty programs  
The key to mobile loyalty programs during Valentine?s Day is to understand the consumer?s unique mindset during this period.

Marketers need to use Valentine?s Day-specific messaging. They can use special offers as a way to get customers to sign up for their mobile loyalty programs.

A sample call to action would be, ?Join our mobile loyalty program and get a special coupon good for 3 free roses.? 

This incentive could be specific and attractive for Valentine?s Day. So could, ?Buy 9 roses and get 3 free with your mobile coupon.?

Retailers can use push text messages to members of their loyalty program who have subscribed to their mobile alerts list to inform customers of last-minute deals and specials. 

These messages could contain the primary content or they could point to mobile Web sites configured specifically to deliver the special content. 

Response rates on these type of messages are usually many times that of messages that are sent via other means, per Mr. Slavin.

?Calls to action via SMS now should lead to trial, sales and ultimately opt-ins to mobile loyalty clubs,? Hipcricket's Mr. Hasen said. ?The job is the same as during the rest of the year ? add a call to action to dollars already being spent to make previously passive activities interactive and of greater value.? 

Per CodeBroker's Mr. Slavin, there are a lot of different Valentine?s Day-specific loyalty plays that retailers and brands can use.

For example, brands can send reminder messages for male customers. One could read, ?Valentine?s Day is Monday. Here is a coupon good for $10 off on any Valentine's purchase.?

Last-minute deal alerts are good as well, especially the day before or on Valentine?s Day.

Alerts to help a retailer dump inventory after Valentine?s Day are great as well.

?Use text messaging in conjunction with mobile Web to allow people to text in for a URL to see sample gifts, and then click to purchase,? Mr. Slavin said. ?These messages could also be pushed to loyal members.?

Mr. Hasen pointed out that brands and retailers need to build lists and figure out customer preferences now, so they could target the correct messages to the right segment of their database when the big day comes.

?That gives a retailer the ability to produce relevant offers and product information that are of more value to the opted-in mobile user,? Mr. Hasen said. ?It?s easier now to get the attention of the prospective customer than it will be during the frenzied building to Feb. 14."