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Yankee Group analyst: Well-balanced mobile plan can bring customer closer

June 20, 2014

Kohls' mobile app.

Kohls’ mobile app.

NEW YORK – Yankee Group’s research director at the Mobile Research Summit: Data & Insights 2014 said a comprehensive marketing strategy that leverages mobile across the customer journey can help retailers get closer to the customer.

Sheryl Kingstone, research director for the Boston-based telecommunications and information-technology market-research firm, said a campaign that taps mobile coupons, loyalty programs, personalized offers and proactive communication while revealing customer preferences and location can increase the retailer’s customer relevance.

“Understand that it isn’t just about one initiative, it’s about understanding across initiatives,” Ms. Kingstone said in the session titled The Changing Face of Mobile Customer Engagement. “The closer you get to customers the better the offer will be because you will understand them more.”

Mobile Commerce Daily organized the Mobile Research Summit: Data & Insights 2014.

Opportunity beckons
She cited numerous retailers who turned concerns about showrooming into determination to use mobile applications – the heart of the customer experience – to build customer relevance.

Statistics show consumers spend 60 percent of their time on a mobile phone interacting with applications. By 2017, 250 million smartphones and 280 million tablets are expected to be in use in the U.S., raising a large opportunity for businesses to use applications to win new customers and engage their existing client base.

With 90 percent of the US population having at least one mobile phone, businesses realize that mobile customer engagement is important. She cautioned retailers not to assume that everyone has a smartphone. Some are just texting without an Android or iOs-supported device.

Eighty-four percent of businesses are interested in initiatives that provide proactive communications and 63 percent have prioritized mobile as a way to be more responsive to customers. Yankee Group’s two-year study of consumer behavior found that SMS is the most frequently used aspect of the mobile phone, beating voice calls and email.

Meanwhile, traditional channels have declined in preference among consumers with home telephone use plunging 34 percent, email dropping 25 percent and company website use dipping 2 percent. Showing the strength in mobile, consumer Web site browsing and use of mobile phone SMS to a company representative both climbed 10 percent, while mobile phone self-service rose 12 percent.

But the decreases should not be taken as a signal to eliminate those strategies, Ms. Kingstone said.

Consumer engagement
The talk highlighted how some retailers achieved big jumps in consumer engagement during the latest holiday-shopping season, beating the industry’s 43 percent average increase by implementing a comprehensive mobile retail engagement strategy. Kohl’s, with a 73 percent surge, H&M (61 percent), Victoria’s Secret (58 percent), Staples (56 percent), Gap (48 percent) and Express (44 percent) led the way in Yankee Group’s study.

Yankee Group analyst Sheryl Kingstone at Mobile Research Summit.

Yankee Group analyst Sheryl Kingstone at Mobile Research Summit.

The leaders on the list have launched campaigns that maximized their return from mobile marketing. Victoria’s Secret, for instance, launched a well-promoted pre-spring break campaign that used games on its iPhone and Android app to generate both sales and engagement.

“Mobile is not just about the transaction,” Ms. Kingstone said. “What it is is about the journey.”

Final Take

Michael Barris is staff reporter on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York

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