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Macy’s hones in on mobile email, SMS for improved holiday experiences

August 14, 2013

Macy's gears up for the holidays

PHILADELPHIA – A Macy’s executive at eTail East said that as the retailer gears up for the holidays, the company plans to make a harder play into email, SMS and responsive design.

During the keynote panel “Investing in the Future: Creating Optimal Customer Experiences and Generating New Marketing Programs to Reach Tomorrow’s Consumer” session, executives from Macy’s, Shutterfly and Criteo discussed how they prioritize budget spend across multiple marketing platforms. The session was moderated by Mark Flaherty, senior vice president of North America sales at Criteo, Paris.

“We know that our customer is on mobile devices, we know that she or he is responding well to search, we were up in mobile search a year ago,” said Serena Potter, general vice president of marketing strategy at Macy’, New York. “That has continued to grow as the trends, traffic and response continues to grow.

“We’re testing many different responsive designs to make our emails more productive on mobile devices,” she said. “We know that customers are opening them [on mobile], and we know that they look terrible, so we are trying to make that experience better.

“SMS is a program that is still growing for us. It’s still small, but actually the response is pretty good, so we will be doing a lot of testing to figure out what the best content is for that customer.”

Picking a platform
According to Ms. Potter, mobile is all about understanding the consumer’s intent.

Given Macy’s millennial demographic, it is not surprising that mobile plays a key role in plugging into that intent, and Macy’s is developing some of its campaigns mobile-first. To rationalize the mobile-first approach, Ms. Potter said that the company leans heavily on data.

Take responsive design, for example.

Macy’s began experimenting with responsive design during the second-quarter this year. According to the Macy’s exec, the company will be getting results soon that will help determine how the brand uses responsive design in the fourth-quarter.

Another area that Macy’s has continuously been active in is SMS. The company routinely sends out messages to consumers to promote sales, but Ms. Potter said that there is still a large opportunity to incorporate the store experience into mobile messaging.

Similar to other retailers, figuring out what drives conversions, especially with Macy’s tech-savvy audience that is often willing to input more information than other generations, is a challenge for Macy’s.

When it comes to prioritizing content for mobile, Macy’s is increasingly taking screen size into account versus device.

Instead of lumping digital into mobile, tablet and desktop, marketers should tap into the differences in the screen sizes of devices.

For example, Apple’s iPad Mini offers a significantly different user experience than the regular iPad. Then there is Samsung’s Galaxy, which has a much larger screen than other Android devices.

The mobile product lifecycle is increasingly getting smaller and is forcing marketers to hone in on specific efforts that in turn, might alienate other initiatives.

According to Ms. Potter, Macy’s is focused on iOS efforts currently and is not focusing as heavily on Android users.

Macy’s iPhone app

Mobile picture
According to John Borris, senior vice president and chief marketing officer of Shutterfly, Redwood City, CA, marketers need to look beyond hard conversions these days to determine if a marketing initiative was successful.

Shutterfly’s Android app

For example, certain mediums such as television and digital can be non-quantifiable.

Brand affinity can be particularly strong for marketers nowadays and is something that brands should take into account as a serious metric.

At the same time, Shutterfly pours 12-15 percent of its budget into new types of programs that are either technologically new or new to the company.

“We see the cascading impact, the umbrella impact that it has on our brands that makes us more efficient overall,” Mr. Borris said.

Final Take
John Borris is senior vice president and chief marketing officer of Shutterfly, Redwood City, CA

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