At this time of the year, retailers make technical and functionality investment decisions focused on Holiday 2014. The biggest issue is what to invest in mobile marketing. Fortunately retailers can rely on the 13th Annual Merchant Survey produced by my friend and colleague, Lauren Freedman at the e-tailing group, for insight and direction.
Mobile users browse stores, open promotional emails, compare features, functions and prices, showroom, photograph goods and share products with friends. Mobile accounts for 20 percent of traffic for the majority of retailers surveyed. For one in five retailers, mobile traffic is 30 percent. (In contrast, the majority of responders peg social traffic at less than 2 percent.) According to the survey, 50% of those surveyed report that mobile consumers contribute at least 5 percent to their revenues and another 32 percent say mobile contributes at least 10 percent.
Seventy-five percent of survey responders say mobile is “critical to the growth of our business.” But 39 percent admit “its hard to know where to invest relative to mobile initiatives.” And while its critical that retail sites need to render properly on smartphones and tablets, nobody really knows which added functionality would drive more profitable conversions and repeat purchases?
Retail competition is fierce and conversion rates have remained stagnant at 2-3% over the last few years. Almost half of retailers are focused on improving their pages and brand experiences. Another third are amping up onsite merchandising, upgrading sites and instituting responsive design. One in three are spending more than $100,000 on mobile enhancements.
My hunch is that the best investment is in messaging not necessarily functionality. For the foreseeable future mobile will primarily be a research tool not a buying mechanism. Most email is now read on mobile devices. Video is moving in the same direction. Mobile search is an increasingly important factor. This leads me to four new mobile retail messaging tactics.
Frequency. Crafting a single impactful message and communicating it often yields greater awareness sooner. The same message, more times on more devices equals higher reach and more persuasion. Synchronize a persuasive offer and communicate it within a defined time window (think SuperBowl) to penetrate and persuade a target group faster than ever before.
Sequencing. Parse a retail pitch. This applies the classic 1940s Burma Shave OOH approach to mobile. The additive value of sequential messages over a limited time period can hammer home a promotion or sale.
Fractal Messaging. A variation on sequencing would be to acknowledge different facets of a brand’s appeal and expose different facets or offers at different times to different people using different devices. Product details and rich images go on tablets while sale pricing, sale dates and bonus offers go on smartphones, in SMS messages or are placed in online media,
This assumes that consumer moods, mindsets and tasks are different by device. So while prospects may resent ads on their smartphone, they might be willing to watch pre-rolls or other video formats on a tablet or phablet. By understanding how consumers use devices both in terms of the mechanics (who, what and where) and their sensibilities (openness to being interrupted or interacted with) brands can optimize sales by aligning with consumers’ workflow and life style patterns.
Orchestration. Assign specific marketing tasks to specific devices in the same way that Bach, Beethoven and Brahms assigned specific roles to specific instruments. One plays the base theme. Another adds the variations. TV, print or catalogs lay down the basic message, while tablet content amplifies or expands the message and smartphones become the channel for consumer reaction, interaction and response.
mCommerce is still in its infancy. Beyond technical investments, it’s time to start creatively experimenting with mobile messaging.