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Frank & Oak exec: Leverage iBeacon for complete user profile

NEW YORK ? A Frank & Oak executive at Mobile Marketer?s Mobile FirstLook: Strategy 2014 conference spilled some initial learnings from a test this holiday season that leveraged Apple?s iBeacon in pop-up stores to get a 360-degree view of a shopper.

During the ?Database/CRM: Potential to Build Relationships on Mobile Lies Unexploited? session, executives from Yankee Group, Frank & Oak and Sumotext spoke about the how to build a long-lasting relationship with consumers. Mickey Alam Khan, editor in chief of Mobile Marketer and Mobile Commerce Daily, New York, moderated the session.

?We?re testing geo-localized push, and iBeacon is still being rolled out, so I don?t want to say that we?ve really done iBeacon full out in the way that I?m sure Apple has envisioned for it,? said Ethan Song, CEO/founder at Frank & Oak, New York.

?But that said, yeah, we brought it into our store, and the way that we?ve used it [is that] it?s a way for us to recognize when one of our app users walks in a store,? he said.

?It?s very hard to do, but once you do that, it means that without having to ask a person to log-in when they walk into a store, you already recognize that that person with that profile with these items that they bought over last year just walked into your store ? theoretically, you?re in store and one of our sales representatives can have this data and better cater to that customer way ahead of time.?

Building a user profile
Frank & Oak's iBeacon tests this holiday fed into a bigger mobile strategy that the company has carved out around apps. The brand's iPhone, iPad and Android app plays a strong role in how the company builds its CRM efforts.

The goal is to ultimately have one complete profile on the consumer to connect in-store, online and mobile shopping experiences.

The key is pushing these app users to shop cross-channel since app-only users are less likely to stick around, per Mr. Song.

The retailer uses its app to track which products consumers are browsing and ?Liking? on social media.

When it comes to acquiring app users, the online retailer promotes its app into its overall, bigger marketing strategy.

For example, when consumers shop online or find Frank & Oak through Facebook, the app is promoted as one way that consumers can shop.

Additionally, the online retailer runs app download campaigns though in-app campaigns and on Facebook.

These ads do convert, but they are not as powerful as the other promotions because the consumer has not bought or browsed a product yet.

In particular, gaming apps are a big push to target Frank & Oak?s male demographic. These ads do drive downloads, but the consumers downloading the app from an ad are not engaging with the app content.

Omnichannel push
According to Sheryl Kingstone, Toronto-based research director at Yankee Group, the challenge for marketers is to integrate mobile into a cross-channel approach.

Essentially, marketers that only have a mobile database miss out on understanding how consumers are interacting across multiple channels.

Take mobile apps, for example.

Simply getting a consumer to download a mobile app is not enough.

Instead, marketers need to constantly be churning out new experiences and engagement through their apps to drive in-store and online traffic.

Ms. Kingstone said that last year focused on the perils of showrooming for marketers.

This year is about how marketers are embracing showrooming. The strategy in this all comes back to understanding the customer journey from discovery, browsing, commerce and ultimately loyalty.

?It?s about your customer profile, it?s about understanding customer preferences, it?s about building a complete profile, and mobile is a piece of that profile,? Ms. Kingstone said.

?If you keep [mobile] as a silo, you?re only going to be down the road creating an absolute headache,? she said. 

Final Take
Ethan Song is CEO/founder at Frank & Oak, New York