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Marketers need to bring pilots to mainstream users: 451 Research analyst

A 451 Research analyst said during Mobile Marketer?s Holiday mobile marketing recap: What worked, what didn't and lessons learned webinar that retailers and brands are not realizing mobile's full potential to personalize offers and need to bring pilots to mainstream users to drive better experiences.  

With a variety of retailers and marketers such as Macy?s, JCPenney?s and Sephora launching pilots for unique and imaginative pushes, it is clear that mobile opens the door for a more personal experience. However, marketers are not taking full advantage of these programs by leaving them in early stages and not allowing full adoption in a wider market. 

"The lessons learned is the fact that mobile commerce did take off, but it is still a percentage of overall sales so we still have the bricks-and-mortar role," said Sheryl Kingstone, researcher director at 451 Research. "We have to make every in-store visit count. 

"We have to have a lot more engaging expertise in line," she said. "One of the things we need to start doing is moving these pilots around the beacons, around the in-store direction, around the clientele. 

"We have to make sure that all of the employees that are customer facing have the tools they need to succeed." 

Sheryl Kingstone, researcher director, 451 Research, Joe Gizzi, senior strategy director at Meredith Xcelerated Marketing and Jeremy Lockhorn, emerging media and innovation, Razorfish were the speakers during the webinar. 

Marketers and mobile
During 2015, Macy?s launched a program in which users were introduced to a Tinder-like interface in which they could view products by swiping right or left, JCPenney launched a tool to match products to users? real life pictures and Sephora launched a variety of new beacon tools in-stores. But while these big retailers are making strides in this area, the programs are only offered on a small scale in limited markets. 

The small-scale restriction is really limiting marketers capability, as the mainstream user is the key demographic with theses programs and will take the campaigns to a higher level. With the programs all still operating as pilots, it hinders the user base to only advance users. 

The amount of mainstream users are continually growing as well, with many users adopting these devices in the past year. Marketers need to effectively tailor experiences to the individual, and create an interface based on users? past history, likes, dislikes and location information. 

Marketers also need to focus on effectively informing the new users on how to interact with these cutting edge tools. The more comfortable a user feels with the mobile experience, the more likely they are willing to return and interact.   

Artificial intelligence
Marketers will also need to take into account the surge of artificial intelligence that is likely to come in the upcoming year. With developers such as Google and Apple continually introducing predictive capability into their operating systems, retailers will need to be cognizant of this and provide their own AI-like experiences. 

"Artificial intelligence is starting to become a real factor," said Jeremy Lockhorn, emerging media and innovation at Razorfish. "IBM launched an application leveraging their Watson technology, trying to predict what the last holiday season's most popular gifts were going to be. 

"That is just one example of how I think AI is going to start changing things," he said. "More broadly than that I think there is going to be a significant shift in consumer expectation driven by the fact that both Google and Apple have built predictability into their respective operating systems. 

"So already that OS layer is starting to deliver information and experiences proactively before you as the user even asks to do so. That very quickly is going to become the expectation on mobile devices."