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SES London: To Better Engage, Brands Must Understand Mobile Customers

  |  February 21, 2013   |  Comments

In this Thursday panel at SES London, experts provided tips and examples on how to better engage mobile users.

Mobile devices are extremely powerful. They can transform the retail experience, connect brands to social, and facilitate sharing. Mobile is also a personal space that must be respected. But, first and foremost, in order to better engage mobile users, brands must understand their customers. That's according to speakers in SES London on Thursday during the "Living in a 'Smart' World - How Mobile and Tablets are Shifting User Behaviour" panel.

Every second, 8.1 Android and 4.6 iOS devices are sold, says Mark Brill, lead partner at mobile consulting firm BrandEmotivity. This enables consumers to search, buy, and share virtually everywhere they go. Much of that activity is focused on shopping, movies, music, etc., but it's also focused on deals.

That means users are searching in stores prior to purchase.

Best Buy, for one, was hurting from this phenomenon because consumers were using their mobile devices to compare prices in store but then actually buy from competitors. As a result, Best Buy has since instituted a price match promise against some competing stores, Brill says.

Mobile can also change the actual retail experience in other ways, Brill says.

That includes grocery shopping via QR codes in the subway in Korea, and Tesco pop-up shops in England with no checkouts - just QR codes. These devices/technologies make the shopping experience cheaper, faster, and more effective, Brill says.

Mobile also has the power to connect brands to social. To wit: 54 percent of Facebook users access the site from a mobile device and 92 percent of mobile users share clips on YouTube. That means these devices are very shareable compared to desktops, Brill says.

Another interesting trend: mobile users refer to brands with photos rather than just words. In particular, there is a shift among young women on Instagram to making brand references in photos. This creates opportunities for brands to create and co-create content, such as Ford Fiesta's #Fiestagram promo that yielded 60,000 photos, Brill says.

It also includes a campaign from KLM targeting Twitter and Foursquare users. In it, KLM honed in on its passengers at airports to find and give away gifts to social media users. According to Brill, this could be either a good example or a bad example since people at the airport will go on to use their mobile device to share the experience, but it's also a bit creepy.

That leads to Brill's conclusion that mobile is a personal space. Brands have to interact on a person's terms.

London's Gatwick Airport is a good example in its campaign to address problems via Twitter. The Heathrow app is a bad one in that it essentially provides the desktop site on mobile devices, Brill says.

Further, tablets and mobile devices do not provide the same user experience. Mobile devices satisfy more immediate needs. Tablets, on the other hand, provide a richer experience - they're the devices consumers use to take to bed and browse, Brill says.

In order to identify how his clients can understand and influence customers on mobile devices, Sri Sharma, founder and managing director of paid search agency Net Media Planet, created a customer map that addresses: needs, device, time, and location.

Sharma employed this map with skin clinic sk:n.

Sk:n didn't have a mobile site - customers had to fill out a form or call in order to communicate with the brand. Sharma says he used the customer map to understand those consumers - they were looking for immediate answers, they wanted advice, 85 percent were on smartphones, and 82 percent were interacting during call center hours.

In other words, sk:n customers want to speak, but on their terms. As a result, Sharma says he blocked access to the web on mobile devices and launched a click-to-call campaign, which resulted in increases in leads (26x) and conversion rate (2.2x).

This is all based on the understanding that the mobile customer is different than the desktop customer, Sharma says.

Papa Johns is another Net Media Planet client. It was looking to increase its U.K. presence. According to Sharma, discounts are a necessary evil in the pizza business and Tuesday is the most discount-heavy day of the week with many buy-one-get-one-free deals.

Sharma says his team looked into why customers were ordering pizza in order to figure out how to use mobile devices without offering a discount. Their discovery: consumers order pizza when they don't want to cook.

He was therefore able to implement a campaign in which Papa Johns communicated with customers when they were hungriest; implemented careful product selection (in this case, side orders) to drive revenue; and created messaging with appetite appeal by identifying phrases that reflect the experience of eating side orders and using that language in messaging.

As a result, both click-through rate and revenue per click increased. In addition, the average order value on mobile devices went up 12.7 percent.

It all goes back to really understanding the customer, Sharma says.

Finally, according to Sharma, to make mobile search work harder, brands must: try to express relevancy to improve traffic and conversion rate; drive brand awareness cost effectively and make mobile search work harder; and develop best practices for Enhanced Campaigns.

Mobile image on home page via Shutterstock.


Lisa Lacy

In addition to ClickZ and Search Engine Watch, Lisa's work has appeared in The Huffington Post, The Luxury Spot, LearnVest, MarthaStewart.com, GoodHousekeeping.com, amNewYork, and The Wall Street Journal. She's a graduate of Columbia's School of Journalism.

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