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Mobile to drive more in-store purchases than actual salespeople during holidays

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Mobile will drive more sales in-store than actual salespeople this holiday season as consumers turn to the mobile Web and applications to research products, read reviews and compare prices, per an Ogilvy executive.

That was one of the takeaways from ?Holiday Mobile Marketing: How to Get it Right at First Go,? a Mobile Marketer webinar sponsored by iLoop Mobile. The webinar provided insights on how to craft, deploy and track effective mobile campaigns in the medium?s first major holiday performance.

?Mobile will drive more sales in-store than human sales people,? said Gretchen Scheiman, partner and director for CRM at OgilvyOne Worldwide, New York. ?If they can get access to reviews and all the data that is out there that is more trusted than salespeople, they?re going to turn to mobile.?

That is not the only unexpected thing that may happen over the holidays.

A Steve Madden executive revealed at the Mobile Shopping Summit that more than 10.5 percent of his company's total Web traffic is coming from mobile devices, representing 250 percent growth over the past six months.

The footwear brand sold 7,856 products in that time frame via mobile, generating $520,866 revenue, with an average order price of $83.70.

Steve Madden expects those numbers to increase steadily, with a spike during the upcoming holiday season (see story).

?I think that retailers are better prepared for the holidays this year,? said Andrew Koven, president of ecommerce and customer experience at Steve Madden, New York. ?Overall, as an industry, the one unexpected thing for consumers might be less aggressive discounting and that the best inventory might not last.?

InsightExpress predicts that there will be more research and purchases being made on mobile devices such as smartphones and iPads during the upcoming holiday season.

?People are going to take advantage of small snippets of time to browse retail Web sites and look for deals before they buy,? said Joy Liuzzo, senior director of marketing and mobile research at InsightExpress, New York.

?Sites that are prepared and mobilized will be providing a good experience and encouraging repeat visits,? she said. ?The sites that are not optimized to be viewed on a mobile device are going to face a setback when they finally do go down that path.?

The panelists all agreed: Brands, agencies and retailers not mobile-enabling the shopping experience will really regret it this year while they watch others do it with great success.

Who is the holiday mobile shopper and which products and services are easily promoted on mobile during the holidays?
Technically, anyone who has a mobile device has the potential to be a holiday mobile shopper.

Based on what Steve Madden is seeing, it is the consumers who are busiest, time-starved or price comparison-oriented.

Electronics, toys, books, footwear and apparel are great categories for people to use mobile to research and buy.

Consumers will buy anything on a mobile device?anything, even a refrigerator, per Ms. Scheiman.

The holiday mobile shopper is everyone, which is good and bad because it means brands cannot have a strategy that just focuses on one thing, per InsightExpresss.

In the past, people did not want a lot of information on their phones. This limited the marketing of products to smaller-ticket items.

Now, people want everything at their fingertips in an easy-to-digest way. Consumers will be looking at small-ticket items as well as larger purchases on their phones, per Ms. Liuzzo.

?The holiday mobile shopper is getting to be everybody?everybody is thinking about the mobile shopper as the new thing for 2010, the year of mobile mantra,? said Michael Ahearn, vice president of marketing strategy at iLoop Mobile, San Francisco. ?It was actually last year.

?In terms of products that are easily promoted, apparel would be No. 1 with mobile couponing or even simple SMS VIP announcements of special pricing,? he said.

For example, a brand could do the ?12 days of Christmas? with 12 text messages before Dec. 24, where gift ideas and special pricing announcements would be delivered every morning to consumers' phones.

Budgeting for the holidays: Which mobile channel gets more than others?
This is tough to track and measure given the available metrics, per Ogilvy.

This year will probably still see some application hype, so Ms. Scheiman said she expects applications followed by ads will be the bulk of budgets.

Budgeting depends on the target and strategy, whether the brand wants to generate awareness, drive purchases or build a relationship with consumers, per Ms. Luizzo.

Awareness is best built by buying across multiple platforms such as the mobile Web, applications and video and getting the message out to as many people as possible.

To drive purchases, marketers have to give consumers an incentive to push them to purchase.

This can be something that is integrated in-store or a fully built-out mobile site, not necessarily just coupons.

Building a relationship is about providing a service or solution that is valued, and this can happen through an SMS or application, per InsightExpress.

Mr. Ahearn suggests that brand go for top-line revenue generators.

?They are cheaper and will ring the register,? Mr. Ahearn said. ?Imprecise brand awareness campaigns are probably low on the list of marketing objectives to fulfill at Christmas.

?SMS is a simple, cheap and an effective way to get the word out and drive traffic,? he said. ?Simple mobile Web deployment to provide information will be key, and a store locator is a must.

?Mobile commerce sites could prove useful to the late/busy shopper or when a consumer is in a store and wants to buy an out-of-stock item?whip out the phone and order it right on the spot.?

How to deploy an effective SMS campaign for the holidays
Start with a goal, not with mobile, per Ogilvy. If SMS is right for your goal, then it is probably going to be mixed with other channels as well.

?The hardest part of an SMS campaign is going to be attribution?how do you know it was the SMS that drove the sale?? Ms. Scheiman said. ?How much of the sale should you credit to your SMS campaign??

Speaking from the measurement side, it is imperative to know the success metrics upfront, per InsightExpress.

What percentage of mobile coupons does the brand want redeemed in order to know it has made an impact? Is it looking to drive people in-store, to a site or just to join a CRM group?

Everything hinges on the objectives of the campaign, per Ms. Liuzzo.

Mr. Koven agreed that this is really a function of business objectives.

If the objective is to drive traffic to stores, it could be special offers, coupons and contests. It can also be text in for store location.

If the objective is to drive activity in store, it could be product-oriented information that is sent when a customer requests it via SMS.

?Copy should be short and sweet and to the point,? Mr. Koven said. ?Measurement would be based on offer redemption and can also be captured as another data point with store associates engaging consumers to gauge their mobile experience and reporting results back from the field.?

The best campaigns will have something that draws the consumer in such as sweepstakes, shopping-spree entry, giveaways or buy-one-get-one free, per iLoop Mobile.

Make it shopping-centric. A good tactic would be to bring consumers in with a one-off component and get opt-ins for after the holiday-continued messaging.

Holiday promotions are a good way for a brand or retailer to start building its year-round database, per Mr. Ahearn.

There will be plenty of mobile Web traffic during the holidays. Brands should make sure they have a PC Web opt-in page for mobile initiatives such as alerts and VIP clubs to jumpstart their first-quarter mobile marketing.

Brands and retailers must make sure they plan at the start what they want to measure.

Many campaigns will be designed to drive store traffic so make sure you have a way to measure how mobile is bringing them in. Mobile coupons with point-of-sale redemption will do this.

?If you are doing Web or mobile Web opt-in to SMS promotions, offers or coupons, use CRM-style opt-in to do segmented messaging,? Mr. Ahearn said. ?You could do selectable offers based on whether the person opting in to the SMS promotional alerts is shopping for kids, wife, husband or relatives.

?They would then receive more relevant offers or information based on what they need to buy,? he said. ?This can act as a gift selector using SMS.?

Key elements in a user-friendly, holiday-oriented mobile site, app
The webinar participants discussed the elements that a mobile site or application should feature, including the design, search, functionality and frictionless shopping and transactions.

The best thing retailers could do for shoppers this holiday season is make sure there is a Wi-Fi signal in the stores so consumers can access the mobile Web when they want to, per Ogilvy.

The second-best would be to make sure their shopping carts are available on their mobile devices, per Ms. Scheiman.

When shoppers gets to the store, they should be able to say, ?Wait, wasn't that the one I wanted?" and look it up quickly using their handsets.

Three things a site has to get right are loading speed, easy navigation and quality and relevancy of content, per InsightExpress.

?If you get these nailed down, you are more than halfway there,? Ms. Liuzzo said. ?If you want to encourage purchases on the site, then think about the number of steps consumers will have to go through and try to keep it to the smallest number.?

For those consumers who may not be comfortable sending their credit card information on their mobile phone, retailers can offer them an option to send themselves a link to the product or have their shopping cart available to them when they are back on their computer.

The design of a mobile site or application has to be simple and search must be quick and efficient, per Steve Madden.

There should be two or three clicks at most for consumers to get to what they want.

?I highly recommend if you are a multichannel retailer to have inventory availability lookup at a store by geolocation enabled for mobile during the busy mission-critical holiday shopping season,? Mr. Koven said.

?Retailers should include click to call and very obvious customer service contact information,? he said. ?Include Facebook Like so consumers can engage and share.

?It is the holidays and people are in good moods.?

Best-practice tips for effective holiday mobile marketing, commerce

Webinar participants agreed brands and merchants should keep it simple, even though that can be hard because marketers are used to channels that are so integrated with customer data and call centers.

?But if you start with a goal and strip out all the nice-to-haves then you can keep mobile pretty simple and achievable,? Ms. Scheiman said. ?That is still key for most brands who are still getting into mobile.?

Marketer should think about their target and what they are doing, besides shopping, around the holidays, per InsightExpress.

Are they looking for events, activities for the family, scheduling their calendar or finding time to spend with family and friends?

What could a marketer do around those areas to connect with them and encourage them to interact with its brand?

Marketers and merchants must have a great mobile commerce platform if their objective is to sell, per Steve Madden.

?Comprehensive product information is key on mobile,? Mr. Koven said. ?Keep the marketing offers simple, to the point and easy to redeem in all of the channels you operate in.?

Brands and retailers should be useful with their marketing, per iLoop Mobile.

Holiday shopping can be a chore. Make it easier with mobile.

Product information is king. People are making decisions and making them fast. Help them.

?Help with the gift-giving process,? Mr. Ahearn said. ?Use simpler technologies if using direct mobile techniques.

?Speed is of the essence for the shopper and the retailer?do not slow down the retail experience with bleeding-edge mobile technology,? he said. ?Make mobile social and make it easy for people to share good ideas for holiday shopping?it is the season of giving.

?Interact with your target audience and give or offer them presents in return for the attention or participation in a mobile campaign.?

Measuring the performance of holiday mobile marketing campaigns
The consumer will be in the stores, so mobile holiday campaigns need to increase the basket.

Brands and retailers should measure how the mobile campaign made them spend more and use mobile to increase loyalty.

Mobile can encourage consumers to come back to the same stores.

Marketers can use mobile to successfully differentiate themselves on the retail shelf, per iLoop Mobile.

There will be a lot of people staring at a ton of products all vying for the holiday dollar.

Mr. Ahearns said that marketers should measure how the in-store mobile marketing campaigns are increasing their sales while beating the competing products.

How viral is the campaign and how will social components drive better performance? Holidays are a time of sharing, especially about products.

?Without getting on my soapbox, all mobile marketing campaigns can be measured and should be measured,? Ms. Liuzzo said. ?It goes back to establishing your success metrics upfront and making sure they are measureable and will provide you with actionable data.?

Please click here to access the archived webinar

Final Take
Mickey Alam Khan, editor in chief, Mobile Marketer