5 Ways to Level the Mobile Playing Field

  |  October 23, 2012   |  Comments

A complex, multi-faceted mobile program is a requirement for brands this holiday season.

Not that complex, not overly time-consuming, and can still be done before the holidays. How does that sound? The three most common excuses for not including mobile tactics into the marketing mix are no longer valid. A complex, multi-faceted mobile program is a requirement for some brands, but for many others that have been too afraid or distracted to get started, or if you want to make sure you have your bases covered for the holiday season, this is for you.

If the simplicity I'm proposing isn't enough to keep you reading, then consider these stats:

  • 46 percent of CMOs believe mobile, smartphone, and tablet adoption will impact email programs in the next year (Meclabs "2012 Email Benchmark Report").
  • 29 percent believe location-based marketing will have an impact in email programs.
  • Average order value: $123 from tablets vs. $102 from traditional computers (2011 Adobe "The Impact of Tablet Visitors on Retail Websites").
  • Nearly identical conversion rates between tablets (2.3 percent) and traditional computers (2.5 percent) (Adobe "The Impact of Tablet Visitors on Retail Websites").

It's time to catch up. Here are five ways to level the mobile playing field.

Check Out the Other Guy

While aspirations of a robust mobile marketing program are all well and good, having a real-world perspective on your competition will help create a baseline of what you need to consider to catch up with the field. Here's your research checklist:

  • Is their site optimized for specific mobile devices (tablet vs. smartphone)?
  • Is there a call-to-action to download an app?
  • Are you able to add to cart and purchase?
  • Is there SMS enrollment on the mobile and/or desktop sites?
  • If possible, do catalogues and/or store locations feature SMS opt-in and/or QR codes?

Whether you find you're woefully behind, or not as bad off as you thought, getting a sense of where you stand is a great way to determine your priorities for going mobile.

Location, Location, Local

Taking a desktop computer or laptop out shopping is simply not practical. But now, pre-planning a shopping day before leaving home is no longer a requirement to find the hottest sales, store hours, store locations, or product reviews. Shoppers are relying on mobile applications and location-based services more than ever. A 2012 study by ISACA found that 58 percent of consumers are using location-based applications and 32 percent are using them more than they did the previous year. You need to be in the shopper's pocket this holiday season.

There are several free services to link your site and stores to multiple local directories with a few simple steps. This will help shoppers locate your store locations (and website) while they are on the go.

SMS: Mobile and Email Acquisition

Doorbusters, flash sales, days of deals…the holidays are littered with limited-time, last-minute, early/late, and surprise sales. If you have ever seen the line at Best Buy at 3 a.m. on Black Friday, you know that shoppers seem to like this approach.

The inherent push functionality of SMS messages provides an immediacy that is not found in email. Shoppers may not check their inboxes as frequently as they will see a text message. Odds are one of your current vendors offers an SMS service that you can easily start using today.

Dedicate an email asking subscribers to sign up for SMS messages to receive exclusive offers, news about store events, and special coupons. This will provide an additional messaging channel during the season beyond your email program.

SMS can be a two-way street by providing email list growth potential. Store signage and receipts can ask shoppers to sign up for email via SMS.

QR Codes

Yes, the effectiveness of QR codes is an ongoing debate, but a full-court press of mobile strategies during the holidays will help you determine if your customers are using the technology. The most common downfall of QR codes is that they offer no benefit to the consumer. Two strategies are to use QR codes to enhance the shopping experience and combat showrooming. Don't just direct the shopper to your website, send them to a special coupon, product video, or email sign-up form to receive upcoming promotions. Use product-specific codes to link to product reviews on your site (not Amazon or a comparison shopping site). Creating QR codes takes the same time and effort as most link-shortening sites and often provides similar reporting data.

Optimize for Mobile Devices

Fully optimizing for mobile devices is a major undertaking, but there are a few essentials that you can implement to smooth some of the wrinkles that may currently exist. I frequently see brands that send clicks from mobile devices to a desktop version of their website. Meet with your partners to determine if there is a way to create a mobile version of your site. There may be limitations such as shoppers only being able to browse and research products but not purchase. Even at this bare minimum, showrooming can be thwarted and the purchase process has been positively influenced. Always include a link to the desktop version of your site for shoppers who are willing to zoom around the full site.

If you're not able to create a mobile version of your site, at least develop an email opt-in form that is optimized for mobile devices. This form can be linked to QR codes or short URLs in-store or on print pieces to help grow your list during the busiest time of the year.

Mobile devices are a major influencer of where to shop, what to buy, and then actually making the purchase. Catering to the mobile shopper this holiday season is essential. Ignoring them could impact sales for the season and the negative experience could result in longer term impact. Even basic mobile optimization will help make the shopping experience better and can help you close more sales.

Playing Field image on home page via Shutterstock.

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Jim Davidson

As an expert in email, mobile, and social strategies, Jim Davidson brings over 13 years of experience in online marketing, managing email and cross-channel programs for top retail clients. From strategic vision to implementation, Jim has led clients to successfully meet aggressive revenue and performance goals. As Bronto's manager of marketing research, he regularly publishes industry-focused white papers, research reports, and contributes to the Bronto Blog. Jim's articles frequently appear in leading retail, e-commerce, and marketing publications.

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