Five mobile must-haves to impact the customer journey this holiday season

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According to Deloitte’s annual retail holiday sales forecast, retailers should expect to see an uptick in both in-store and online sales this coming holiday.

With a stable economy, low unemployment and more disposable income, sales are expected to exceed $1 trillion, or a 3.6%-4% increase in sales over the same period last year (November-January).

That’s good news for many retailers who have been forced to close some stores, streamline SKUs and reduce expenses, but it’s no time to sit back and rest on the innovation front.

While most retailers have finalized their holiday plans by now, use the next few weeks to test, pilot and innovate to yield new learnings, insights and sales moving into the new year.

With that in mind, here are a few of my top recommendations focused on bridging the gap between digital and brick and mortar, improving the customer experience and keeping sales moving in the right direction.

Mobile is the bridge between digital and brick and mortar as the number of devices and time spent with those devices continues to accelerate.

Consequently, mobile is now the top digital marketing priority for marketers, according to Forrester Research. For marketers looking to further accelerate sales and improve customer experiences this holiday season, no program would be complete without a focused effort around mobile innovation spanning SMS, push, mobile advertising and location-driven marketing/intelligence.

Consider the following:

Text for save programs

Millions of consumers armed with smart phones in hand will be in and out of retail locations over the next few months. While many may not have downloaded your app, nearly all have the capability to text.

In fact, SMS remains the workhorse of mobile marketing because it’s easy, real-time and ubiquitous.

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Retailers seeking to increase year over year sales for a particular category or product should consider the following: analyze last year’s average spend and margin for that category (i.e. $50), determine the desired increase in average sales/basket size and encourage users to spend more by texting in to receive a bonus or discount (i.e. spend $100, receive double rewards points).

Geo-triggered push notifications

Let’s face it, they say timing is everything. If you’re fortunate enough to have users download your app, you have a unique opportunity to not only learn more about them but to also connect existing data you have about those users via an in app purchase, registration or loyalty sign in.

Combining that knowledge with existing CRM data (i.e. past purchases) and when available, location will give you the ability to trigger a hyper-relevant message when a particular user crosses a geo-fence (i.e. within X feet of your retail location).

But why stop there? Consider testing a conquesting program by setting up geo-fences around your competitor location(s) and sweetening the deal to increase your share of wallet and loyalty.

Beacon/WiFi intelligence and messaging

There has been a lot of talk about the promise of Beacon and WiFi signals to support better customer knowledge, messaging and experiences in-store.

According to Retail TouchPoints, just 29% of retailers surveyed worldwide have implemented beacon technology thus far and of those who have, other research shows they are satisfied with them.

LED Display - Free wifi signage

The key to beacon success and satisfaction is to move forward with some goals in mind and setting up milestones and measures of success. Whether it is trying to get a better understanding of the customer journey in store, improving store operations via better data for staffing or impacting the experience and sales creating hyper-relevant offers and services in-store.

If you haven’t implemented beacons yet, consider a pilot with those things in mind and be sure to share learnings internally to further fuel innovation.

Ad retargeting

As marketers, we all aspire to better understand and impact the customer journey in a positive way. After all, in the end, creating positive customer experiences is really how one brand can truly differentiate itself from another in today’s competitive market.

So far, we’ve talked about pre-visit messaging with geo-location triggered messages and beacon/WiFi triggered messaging in-store, but what about post visit?

Using the IDFA (Apple Identifier for Advertiser) or Google Advertising ID, marketers have the opportunity to re-target their app users in app and via mobile ads across major ad ad networks.

By using CRM, geo-location data (recent store visit), beacon signals (in-store movements and linger time) and actual purchase data, marketers can now intelligently retarget users with hyper-relevant mobile ads that either reflecting interest or actual purchases (up-sell).

If access to various components of this effort is difficult, consider starting with testing a simple ad retargeting program to encourage another online or instore visit and move up in sophistication from there.

Mobile analytics and attribution

The wealth of data mobile offers is immense. The mobile landscape continues to expand with innovative start-ups focused on helping brands leverage the power of mobile and specifically mobile data.

Look for providers who can help you visualize this data to yield a better understanding of your customers based on their physical movements. One leading hospitality company I know, is using their app users location data off property to better understand and segment their users (i.e. foodie, sport enthusiast, etc.), inform on property services and refine messaging across all channels.

Location data can also be used to determine attribution – did that mobile ad drive an in-store visit and purchase?

We are living in exciting times and there is little doubt that mobile and mobile marketing is increasingly becoming central to not only understanding the customer journey, but impacting and evolving it in new and exciting ways.

While marketers continue to shift dollars towards the mobile channel, testing innovating new ways to impact the customer journey needs to be an essential part of any marketing effort today.

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