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Citi exec: Mobile offers start with the consumer

SAN FRANCISCO ? A Citi executive at the 2013 Mobile Marketing Association Forum San Francisco said that in order for marketers to send compelling mobile deals, the consumer comes before the offer.

During the ?Understanding the Mobile Connected Life ? Managing the Consumer Relationship at the Intersection of ?Big Data? and ?Little Data? session, executives from Vibes Media, Citi, nFluence and Alliance Retail Services spoke about how mobile marketers can benefit from big data. The session was moderated by Josh Herman, vice president of product strategy and innovation at Acxiom Corp., Potomac, MD.

?Citibank has historically had a lot of big data applications ? initially for fraud detection and later for marketing consumers,? said Richard Char, managing director and global head of digital networks and retail at Citi, New York.

?When we started doing mobile, we thought, ?Well this is going to be much easier because it has to be in real-time and thin so we will not use as much data,?? he said. ?And we proceeded to start building an application and testing and realized that it was wrong.?

?The reason that we got it wrong was because in all of our higher paradigms we used an offer and said, ?Who can we give this to?? We always started with the offer, but when you get to mobile, the problem is that you start with the consumer. If you really want to have a compelling experience, it has to be with the consumer ? the customer is first.?

Tailored data
Since the customer comes first with mobile offers, every offer has to be scored in real-time, per Mr. Char.

Additionally, the company has learned to slim down on the number of offers that it sends users to not seem overwhelming. Furthermore, it is important that marketers do not have the urge to send a tailored offer to only a certain group of users.

Marketers are increasingly looking for ways to leverage big data to send out targeted information and offers while also keeping consumer privacy in mind.

?We invite our customers to tell us things that they are interested in, and that is obviously something to take into account as we deliver offers to them,? Mr. Char said.

?But conversely, we have been observing their behavior, whether it is a customer of Citibank or a user of a mobile application, and we can infer information about their interests from the way that they interact with those applications,? he said.

?The nice thing about the phone is that the customer is always connected and you are always gathering information ? it is the ultimate sensor.?

Consumer shift
According to Jack Philbin, co-founder/CEO at Vibes Media, Chicago, brands cannot afford to be afraid of big data nowadays.

?The less personal and intimate your communication and the ability you give someone for interactions, then the more likely it is to be indifferent,? Mr. Philbin said.

?You need to harness all this data ? all this data is an opportunity to make sure that you are being more effective,? he said.

Big data is a trend that is emerging as a way for brands to maximize mobile. When marketers think about integrating with loyalty programs and CRM systems, brands need to look at more data as opening up more options for refining and targeting mobile marketing campaigns.

Additionally, marketers need to be scarce about which messages they send to consumers.

The real challenge for marketers is to have the discipline to not send a message to a group of users that are not fully engaged, per Henry Lawson, CEO of nFluence, Seattle.

?When you have click-through rates that average one in a thousand, every time you send those 999 messages that do not hit the spot, you?re taking a risk that there is a negative impact on your brand,? Mr. Lawson said.

Final Take
Lauren Johnson is associate reporter on Mobile Marketer, New York