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Macy’s doubles down on mobile for back-to-school marketing

July 12, 2013

Front of the class

Macy’s is getting a head start on back-to-school season with a campaign that circles around mobile and social as key ways to connect with college students this year.

The retailer is using SMS and a mobile microsite in its campaign to give away a $500 gift card this year. Macy’s continually turns to mobile in its seasonal campaigns since its core demographic is heavily tech-savvy.

“This offer is targeted especially at those college-aged shoppers who are gearing up to head off to school,” said Holly Thomas, vice president of media relations and cause marketing at Macy’s, New York.

“We know today’s customers always have their phone on hand, so as part of Macy’s ongoing Millennial strategy, it is important that we continue to engage these customers through new and emerging technologies to create a convenient, fun and interesting shopping experience for our shoppers,” she said.

Mobile schooling
Macy’s is leveraging its existing SMS program for this campaign.

Consumers are encouraged to text the keyword DORM to the common short code 62297 to enter to win a $500 gift card to Macy’s.

Users are then sent a bounce-back message that thanks them for entering the sweepstakes.

The SMS contest runs through July 31.

The SMS message

The message also includes a link that directs users to a college-themed microsite that Macy’s has created at and is optimized for mobile devices.

Via the site, consumers can shop from product categories such as décor, kitchen and dining, luggage and organization. The site then shows users top items of the day that they can add to a shopping cart or a shopping list.

Each product also includes ratings that show how many other users love the item.

In addition to commerce, Macy’s has also developed custom content for the site around the back-to-school theme.

For example, a quiz lets users answer a few questions to find recommended products and a top ten section aggregates the most popular products.

There is also a countdown feature that lets users type in their college move-in date to get Millennials excited to start college.

“Macy’s is focused on creating a comprehensive multichannel experience for our customers during our key seasonal promotions and special campaigns,” Ms. Thomas said.

“We continue to utilize mobile technologies and experiment with new opportunities in an effort to engage and excite our customers,” she said. “From our mobile site to apps to SMS initiatives, mobile continues to be a key strategic focus for Macy’s.”

A mobile-call-to-action on the Web site

Mobile powerhouse
Macy’s has been dominating the mobile retail space for quite some time.

Most recently, the company showcased its Impulse collection through a mobile ad that let consumers shop on the spot (see story).

Macy’s also heavily played up mobile for its involvement in NBC’s “Fashion Star” television show earlier this year (see story).

For this campaign, Macy’s is also building up its SMS database to spread the word about the mobile component to the campaign.

The desktop version of the microsite includes a mobile call-to-action that encourages consumers to enter the sweepstakes online. They can sign up for SMS alerts by checking off a box.

“If I were in Macy’s shoes I would be using TV, radio, social and, most importantly, in-store advertising to promote this campaign, in addition to the Web site,” said Derek Johnson, CEO of Tatango, Seattle.

Mr. Johnson is not affiliated with Macy’s. He commented based on his expertise on the subject.

“I think the Web site is a great place to start, but to truly get the kind of growth that I’m sure a retailer like Macy’s would want for a campaign like this, the campaign has to be promoted everywhere,” he said.

Final Take
Lauren Johnson is associate reporter on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York

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