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Tips for mobile cross-channel marketing this holiday season

September 16, 2010

garyBy Gary Schwartz

This holiday season brands needs to work to develop a consistent, clean message across all the media touch points.

The messaging, icons and imagery needs to remain consistent and be reinforced down to that five foot quadrant of decision making in the store.

This cross-channel challenge will be largely solved by effectively leveraging mobile.

This rally cry is somewhere between urgent to desperate for retailers and brands that feel they are not effectively engaging and influencing the shopper at point of decision. “

What is influencing the shopper across the retail touch points? What is making the consumer select a product?

Siloed in-store spend is not working.

Thirty billion dollars is spent on cardboard and plastic to create end-of-aisle CPG displays to engage the shopper at point-of-decision.

This number is set to grow to $50 billion over the next few years because manufacturers are behind the eight ball. This is mainly in the grocery, pharmacy, games, electronics and hardware verticals.

Is it effective? Not really.

• In an average-sized supermarket there is mess of 4,600 display items.

• Less than 20 percent of shoppers even glance at a display. (POPAI MARI 2007)

• Only around 6 percent take any action. (PFB Research

So what is the mobile solution to this?

Let us first spend a few paragraphs on some words of caution.

The would-be mobile marketing manager servicing the brand, retailer or content owner needs to accept the tiresome reality that however exciting a mobile solution maybe, the goal is to drive reach, frequency and conversion.

The mobile buy needs return-on-advertising (ROA) and the mobile strategy need return-on-investment (ROI).

Apps versus  mobile browser:
Mobile shopping success is going to depend on more than just apps.

The new Apple iOS 4 continues to focus on app domination.

No surprise Apple’s focus is still on 200,000-plus apps which are, in great part, Apple’s marketing communications strategy.

Other players in-market are focusing on the super-app, the mobile browser, which, with HTML5 allows for rich app-like functionality.

Steve Jobs talks about apps and the HTML5 browser as two separate platforms – Apple continues to focus all of its energy on apps and in-app iAds.

Commerce enhancements such as iOS 4’s peer-to-peer app gifting is a self-serving feature.

Ultimately, Apple will have to let go of this smorgasbord approach to the phone-top and focus on centralized browser functionality for m-commerce.

The shopper needs a one-stop impulse click.

The shopper needs integrated SMS activation and retention hooks. Focusing on the browser with integrating location APIs and rich media caching will enable the browser to behave more like a downloaded app and drive more commerce adoption long-term.

HTML5 will ultimately be the demise of the app as a mainstream commerce medium. Apple knows this and is reticent to push in-browser functionality which would cannibalize its app-dom.

Barcode reading:
The use case scenarios for barcode scanning can be straight from the Jetsons.

Walk through your pantry scanning products you need to top up, auto-generate a shopping list, use this to shop effectively aisle by aisle in the store.

Do the same in the store to drive product to the pantry. It is a beautiful thing.

Word of caution: Mobile shopper engagement is all about mobile CRM. With mobile code readers, the consumer finds the product and can perform scary comparison shopping acrobatics but it is all anonymous.

While codes are a potentially valuable navigational tool, marketers need to consider integrating SMS in the experience to continue the conversation.

Unlike a scan or mobile web lookup, SMS communication is two-way conversation, allowing for an ongoing commerce channel directly to the brand loyalist.

Put an M in front
Take all the existing communications hubs in the store and see what can be done to facilitate heightened functionality and interactivity via the shopper’s phone.

 m-Rebate
 m-FSI (Free Standing Inserts)
 m Coupon
 m-Receipt
 m-Endcap (End-of-Aisle display and shelf talkers)
 m-Product Fact Tag
 m-Kiosk
 m-Giftcard
 m-Product Tags
 m-Spiffs

M-Coupons: I am not a great believer in mobilizing manufacturer coupons as backend reconciliation slows down the aisle especially in grocery.

However I do like what Motorola is doing with creating a mobile affinity code and tethering deals to this central identification.

It allows for two-way communications and one-scan redemption.

An obstacle is still the hardware to scan these codes.

The lowest hanging fruit is using ubiquitous SMS for the shopper to tether a coupon to an existing plastic loyalty card.

Look to you technology to lead the charge in this area.

M-Rebate: Coca Cola has taken this in-store strategy to the next level.

It has successfully turned its classic Coke bottle into a mini-retail environment to run affinity D2C programs.

Coke prints a unique PIN under the bottle cap which acts as proof of purchase.

Coke’s program works as an affinity channel in any store allowing the consumer to text message the PINs to collect Coke Points.

The consumers diligently work to accumulate points to redeem against tickets and other valued swag. They have taken this token to the ultimate mobile exchange in the UK and in Canada where “Coke Points” can be instantly redeemed on O2 and other global wireless networks for an instant credit on wireless minutes.

In addition to the service providing a revenue role for the wireless carriers who have increasingly become disenfranchised from the mobile marketing and advertising value chain, the service, called AirBonus, could revolutionize a dying rebate business:

• No need for clearing houses

• Shopper does all the work

Most importantly, there is an instant rebate: cash in hand for the mobile consumer. This dream commerce exchange: redeem loyalty points on your handset and the brand will top up minutes on the same redemption device.

Coke is using the phone as retailers use a plastic loyalty card.

The value exchange can be moved seamless on and off the card (or in this case, phone).

No need for rebate or coupon clearing houses, time delays or intermediaries between the brand and the shopper.

M-Point-of-sale (POS) is a natural place to innovate.

Mobile is enhancing existing services.

PoS vendors like DigiPoS, Globalbay, Rediron, and Epicor are redesigning their point-of-sale software as a point-of-engagement for sales and mobile CRM. 

M-Receipts: Receipts are underutilized.

By emulating Coca Cola’s success in printing unique mobile PIN under caps, printing unique PINs on the bottom of a receipt to redeem at check out based on the consumer’s basket drive the same affinity goals. (PIN-on-reciept)

Moreover, by intelligently looking at the consumer basket at tender, PINs can trigger surveys and analytics that are gold to any retailers and CPG.

Buy my product and check your receipt to win.

The PIN on the receipt becomes the proof-of-purchase and redemption on any incentive happens post-transaction, post-POS, on the consumer’s phone. 

Globally this is proving an effective way of driving mCRM opt-in for retailers and driving target sales without the use of discount coupons.

M-Storefront: The industry mantra must move from shrink to rethink mobile content.

If the goal is to take a legacy media and make it work on a smaller phone browser with limited functionality, then the industry is definitely going mobile.

However, taking the tethered online storefront and porting it to a mobile browser may not necessarily make it “mobile.”

There are a number of effective impulse commerce vehicles to drive more effective conversion.

The key to a successful strategy is to look at mobile commerce in the context of what I call “social commerce.”

It is not a thoughtful process (as it is on the web) rather it is very similar to the way we communicate on the phone: in impulse SMS responses.

This is why eBay is so effective in mobile because it allows the shopper to bid on a product as if they are txting back and forth with a friend.

M-Giftcards: Incomm, the a major giftcard clearing house in the United States, will tell you that the plastic giftcard “malls” at the entrance to all major retailers nationally, per square inch, are the highest margin real-estate in the store.

Shoppers spin the display, eyeball and fondle the cards. Whether they ultimately buy the card or not, it is a perfect opportunity for the card vendor to develop a relationship. 

By simply tagging each card with a mobile call to action, the fondler can be activated. On an XBOXLive Card: TXT “VIP” to 222733 (for example).

VIPs can get offers, preorder games and find out about virtual collector cards .

The keyword can segment the banner retailer (7-Eleven of example) to drive targeted promotions back to the partner store.

M-Salesrack: Likewise softgoods retailers can offer VIP shopper sales.

These store managers know that after the magic 60 day mark, chances of selling the item plummets to 15 percent.

After 90 days we are down to five percent. However, sale racks (distressed inventory) can be a loyalty driver.

Have shoppers opt-in for a VIP mobile service that will inform them of deals based on their profile. Mobile alerts trigger when tagged items in inventory are marked down.

M-Spiffs: I personally like the m-Spiff as it is so simple.

The brand incentivizes the retail sales clerk to opt-in to a pop quiz or “mobile university” to drive product awareness on launches.

The clerk simply texts to opt-in to the “mobile university” and receives pop questions on products through the year.

Is the new BRANDX printer
1. A
2. B
3. C

Reply with the correct #. Reply STOP 2 exit BRANDX mobile university.

Loyalty points can be assigned to correct multiple choice answers.

The brand drives top-of-mind, product knowledge and can reward the salesperson for caring enough to research correct responses to questions on the product.

In order for retailers to effectively tap into the shopper’s impulse behavior in aisle this holiday, they need to see the phone as a MOBILE MOUSE that can click and activate non-interactive hubs in the store.

All engagements need to drive to a mobile opt-in and onward going efforts need to focus on mCRM (or simple list management) and to move the shopper back into the store.

Note that SMS is the only channel that exposes the shopper’s phone number and allows for an instant two-way dialogue.

Discuss with your POS integrator how to make your check out integrative using mobile as the interactive channel for the existing loyalty card or simple SMS engagement post transaction.

Remember to develop an ongoing effective and cost-effective strategy you need to connect the basket to the phone number.

Once you have the number then a world of possibilities open up from location social metworking to in-channel commerce.

Gary Schwartz is president/CEO of Impact Mobile Inc., Toronto. Reach him at

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