Brands must get personal or lose out!

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Hesham Al-Jehani, Senior Product Manager, ExactTarget

In a recently published ExactTarget report on Mobile Behaviour it was discovered that over 85% of phone users considered the mobile phone as central to their daily lives. For many of us this comes as little surprise as the small screen has become the fixation of our eyeballs over most other things including, and sad though it may seem, our loved ones. Numerous measures back the notion of mobile’s ascendance as the hub of our personal and digital lives – our online experience is fast shifting to a mobile first and for many a mobile exclusive phenomenon.

The relentless growth in smartphone adoption has ramifications for brands and marketeers who don’t properly adapt their multi channel strategy as it would seem we are reaching an inflexion point that is positively changing attitudes towards mobile. Some may read this with a hint of cautious optimism but there is no doubt that the debate has noticeably shifted from ‘if’ to ‘how’ to use mobile as an effective marketing and communication channel. Brands and businesses that do not adopt a mobile strategy will lose out in the long term and those that want to exploit the mobile opportunity need to fully grasp the unique characteristics that makes this channel exciting, cool, fun and above all personal.

The mobile phone is unlike any other digital device. It is one of the most personal artifacts carried around together with house keys, wallets and purses. So when you engage through mobile remember you’ve probably received express permission to do so and it should be the start of an intimate and fruitful relationship. Like any relationship in life it takes two to tango and the closer you are to someone the more you know about his or her likes and dislikes, habits, idiosyncrasies, secrets and desires. You can even predict how they will behave or react in certain situations. And this closeness assumes a high degree of trust and subsequent loyalty, which should be nurtured and strengthened. Abuse that trust at your peril – engaging through mobile is not a licence to spam nor send irrelevant content.

Mobile users are increasingly enabling their apps to receive push notifications and to track their location. Inadvertently many smartphone users are providing access to their contacts, browser history, bookmarks, calendar and various other phone settings and account details. Such is the richness of the data that can be harnessed, brands are therefore uniquely placed to provide personally crafted engagements with their customers in such an unprecedented way.

Consider the purchase path. Today’s consumer is an omni-channel one and each follows a unique journey that leads to either an online or point of sale purchase. The growing caste of the showroomer, hitherto considered the antithesis of traditional bricks-and-mortar retailing, is emerging together with the webroomer as a key segment for retailers to engage with and create personalised retail experiences. And the mobile phone lies at the heart of that journey from accessing online retail to purchasing and transacting – a good of measure of which is taking place in store.

Building a one-to-one customer journey is not an easy feat, however, but requires access to sophisticated tools (data mining, segmentation, predictive intelligence, etc.) and a cross channel marketing platform that can empower marketeers to plan and execute the optimal personal journey for their customers. One to one marketing at every step of the way using real time and personal data gathered from mobile phone and online behavior is the way forward that can lead to conversion, loyalty and brand advocacy.

Cue in-store beacons and the journey’s becoming tantalisingly futuristic albeit it’s only just beginning for this nascent technology. Beacons are poised to transform modern day retail like never before. Retailers are currently exploring ways of deploying them to provide customers with flash sales, product information and a contactless payment solution. As already mentioned, many consumers are using their smartphones when shopping in physical stores. So imagine a customer journey that begins with products viewed on the store’s app, items are added to the cart, the shopper goes and visits the store to get a look and feel of the product. When they enter the store their smartphone app detects a beacon which then triggers a notification to a sales assistant who is carrying a tablet. The notification provides a view of the customer’s profile, their picture, browsing history and shopping cart items. Upon identifying the shopper they greet them by their first name and are empowered to offer unique discounts. This kind of engagement may seem altogether Orwellian but we are already seeing successful pilots with positive customer feedback. Remember, as with all digital interactions, this can only be permission based, but once customers have agreed you have another opportunity to build a close and more personal relationship with them.

The opportunities to create personal journeys is limited only by the imagination of marketeers and their ability to expand their digital marketing canvas with mobile at its heart. Key to this will be investing in the right digital marketing platform that provides a single view of their customer and which supports interactions at various touch points and across all the key channels.

Written by 

Hesham Al-Jehani,
 
 
Senior Product Manager
 
ExactTarget

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