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Mobile's Tipping Point Makes for a Hot Holiday Shopping Season

  |  November 13, 2013   |  Comments

The holiday shopping season in 2013 is the full-on first for mobile as we move beyond early adopters and reach critical mass. Is your brand ready for an integrated marketer's paradise?

Mastercard is introducing a raft of new mobile payment technologiesWhen I speak with marketers about mobile, it seems there are three camps: those who are not doing mobile and don't seem bothered by the decision; those who are positive they need to include mobile and are aggressively trying things; and lastly, those who know they need it, but aren't sure what to do.

One thing is clear, by the time we hit New Years, for those who ventured into mobile, we'll all be touting tried and true best practices for mobile around Black Friday and Cyber Monday. By next season, as long as we executed on some level, we'll have forgotten we didn't know what to do this year--those who experimented and tested this year will be next year's experts. So, what's special about the mobile opportunity this year? How do we dive in and learn?

Mobile's Coming Out

This is mobile's first full holiday season. Yes, early adopters, bleeding edge creative, and millennial-focused campaigns have been around the block a time or two. But this year, for the first time, we've hit critical mass and mobile is officially mass market.

Sixty-two percent of U.S. consumers are smartphone enabled. They have smartphones and use them for more than texting, talking, and taking photos. Consumers use smartphones to receive offers, shop socially, peruse reviews and more. Knowing this, major brands are supporting mobile apps that enhance how consumers experience their brands. This will soon be considered standard practice, with apps having evolved beyond novel entertainment.

This is a pivotal year. We have wide-spread adoption of devices, availability of tools and apps, as well as the infrastructure and technology available as never before to model and target audiences. All of this allows marketers to optimize and scale their campaigns in real time. It's on and it's time to dive in.

If you want to be part of defining the new world, you have to get in the action and play. So how do you play? What do you do? How do you learn, know, and act on what consumers want in real time to benefit from it and build on it?

Learning by Design

One of the best ways to learn how a consumer wants to be communicated with is to execute campaigns that are designed to learn. We can establish campaigns with clear goals and metrics that reveal the best engagement strategy for each individual customer, all while the campaign is in progress.

Customers tend to speak the loudest and the most authentically when faced with real scenarios. Do you want to know if a customer likes your message? You can show it to them and ask them, or show it to them in a live setting and just see what they do. If you have the right tools or partners, you can immediately apply what you learn, as you engage with the next customer, or even the same customer the next time they engage.

Smart Strategies for Offers and Incentives

Of course, desktop is still a great place to advertise to consumers to drive pure online sales. Why limit yourself, though, when you know today's consumer is mobile 24/7?

One option is to go cross-channel, getting the most of both worlds. Mobile is the best digital platform to engage consumers and drive them into your store. Unlike desktop, you can catch them any time, not just when they are plugged in. You can execute strategies to drive to store and also maximize the mobile in-store experience, taking advantage of mobile browsing and social shopping experiences.

Mobile offers numerous new tactics to engage consumers, including unique ways to compel them into your store, to know if they actually went, and to see what they did after they got there. Dynamic coupons help make this a reality. These are personalized and/or varied offers based on time of day, day of week, or a consumer's physical location.

For example, imagine a mobile coupon targeted to a specific user, based on their predicted interests or past purchases, which is able to extend a tailored discount based on how quickly a consumer arrives to your store on foot. Another option is the ability to promote a flash sale, using a click-to-calendar feature that allows a consumer, in one click, to save the sale date and time to their calendar and be prompted to shop on that day.

Supply and Demand + Time and Location

We know that time and location have become key to personalizing shopper marketing, but time and location don't always mean right now and on site. Sometimes, engaging in time and location targeting means knowing it is better to message the night before or on the same day. Another factor with mobile this: is it better to message while they are at home or near your store? This allows you to test and personalize, over time, something that should be a constant practice when doing mobile marketing.

There have never been more local targeting options. As a basis, local targeting allows you to hit folks in your market regularly or over short, pre-defined periods. Using location history allows us to determine not only when and where to serve ads, but to evaluate a consumer's past locations to understand preferences and interests.

Finally, if you use hyper-local methods, you are able to target when a consumer is extremely close to a store, either as a means of awareness, to spur a specific behavior, or as an effort to conquest away from competitors. In fact, why not implement a consumer opt-in tactic, using the campaign to allow users to opt-in to email, phone, or SMS, in exchange for a season of targeted offers?

This season is the integrated marketer's dream. Cross-platform options are at their fingertips, thanks to advances in mobile infrastructure and technology. If we try new things, test and learn, we should end the season in even greater spirits and far more knowledgeable about our best consumers.

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Shannon E. Denison

Writing on mobile and mobile insights, Shannon E. Denison brings a blended background of time spent providing data analytics services to Fortune 500 companies, and on the client side as a frequent user of data analytics systems. Her background combines consumer psychology, statistics, and marketing - including graduate research in advertising effectiveness, along with 20 years of experience leveraging research and data to evaluate consumer behavior and solve business challenges.

She now serves as VP Product and Insights for Voltari, a provider of data-driven solutions for smart marketing and advertising. For more than a decade, Voltari has empowered brands and agencies to maximize their advertising dollars through smart mobile marketing and advertising solutions. Voltari's real-time, machine-learning optimization delivers content and messaging to people who are most interested in it, when they are most likely to interact, through an integrated and scalable, managed service platform. Voltari's patent pending mobile ad recommendation engine enables clients' campaigns to gain performance efficiencies that improve over time. The company is dedicated to providing the most advanced audience targeting and optimization products to its marketers and agencies - and continually delivering insights. The Insights group Denison oversees focuses on the distillation and dissemination of campaign performance and consumer insights. She writes from this vantage point.

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