4 Tips to Accelerate Mobile Efforts for Retailers
Once referred to as the “retail apocalypse,” it has become clear in the last few months that “retail transformation” is a more accurate depiction of the status of the current retail industry. An industry that was once rooted in brick-and-mortar is now rooted in technology. It’s simple: if retailers want to not only survive, but thrive, they must learn how to connect the customer journey across all touchpoints to reach today’s consumers.
As we continue to see more retailers file for bankruptcy and close stores, a major misconception is that retail is "dead." This isn't true, but retail is certainly going through a major transformation. The way consumers are shopping is changing, but the reality is they’re still shopping. According to the U.S. Census, retail sales hit a record of $5.7 trillion in 2017. If retailers want to thrive in 2018, they have to re-prioritize and follow these four tips:
1. Understand the customer journey.
2017 was the first year no new malls opened in the United States. While consumers are still shopping, it’s not in the same way they were a few years ago. Why should they when it’s as simple as opening an app and making a purchase that can be delivered the next day — or even in a few hours? Customers want the seamless and convenient experience that they’ve become accustomed to in the Amazon era. In order for smart retailers to succeed, they need to start engagement where their customers are — on mobile. For example, this past holiday season, digital was the most popular shopping destination for the first time.
2. Invest properly in mobile for a better customer experience.
As retailers look ahead and consider where to make investments, they must prioritize their mobile strategy. Using technology and algorithms to create a more personalized experience based on location, interests and past purchases will make a customer more likely to make future purchases. Right now, the retail industry is in a Catch-22. Retailers either haven’t invested in a mobile app, or if they have, they aren’t driving traffic to it because they don’t feel it’s up to par.
Creating a great mobile app provides a dramatically better consumer experience than a mobile website. Mobile apps allow brands to create an environment that's much more personalized to individual consumers, while also giving the brand much more customer data vs. on the mobile web.
3. Set up a strong mobile tech stack.
With this shift to mobile shopping, it goes without saying that retailers need to be using the right mobile technology, which includes:
- An attribution partner, otherwise known as a mobile measurement partner (MMP), to provide the insight needed to increase app revenue. Why? Attribution partners provide advanced metrics of app installs as well as data surrounding consumer behavior within an app. These data points allow accurate targeting of consumers as they move through the customer journey by tracking events that occur within the app ecosystem. Attribution partners are the spoke of the wheel that all mobile in-app events connect to. This includes providing the visibility and insight needed for success like attribution, lifetime value, return on investment and analysis between acquisition channels, downstream conversions, and other important metrics.
- Deep linking is the only way for users to navigate directly to relevant pages within an app without directing them to an irrelevant or error page. Essentially, deep linking ensures retailers are sending users to the right page within their app in order to improve conversion rates and user experience. Think of the difference between sending a consumer to a homepage and then having them navigate to the product they wanted to purchase vs. sending them directly to the product detail page to complete a purchase.
- Setting proper KPIs truly depends on goals and priorities. The most successful marketers look beyond top-of-the-funnel measurements such as click-to-install rates. Instead, they rely on retention-based measurements, including lifetime value and return on ad spend, to gauge overall effectiveness of ad campaigns.
4. Put data at the center.
Data is the glue that keeps all retail efforts together. It provides visibility into who consumers are, where they are, what they're doing, and when to reach them. According to Gartner, two-thirds of chief marketing officers plan to increase marketing spend across all aspects of their business, from ads to analytics and e-commerce. Think of data as the marketing pixie dust sprinkled throughout all marketing efforts. Knowing when to use it within mobile and how to deploy it will determine long-term success. However, retailers cannot silo data in a vacuum. Data should be central to the development of every campaign to combine each audience with the right message, creative and call to action.
Accessing data can present a significant problem, especially with various data restrictions and regulations like the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). First-party data and third-party data are available through multiple sources, but it’s the quality of the data that really counts. Many retailers have tremendous first-party data that can be enriched with other data sources in marketing efforts, but these are usually tied to specific advertising spends.
So, How Do You Thrive?
Understanding the customer journey and deploying the right mobile strategy to reach consumers will provide the payoff for peak seasons like the holidays, but it’s important that retailers don’t wait until then. Most consumers exist outside of the popular social networking apps and they’re using on average 30-plus apps per month. Retailers should act now during the "slower periods" and small holidays to test different partners and strategies so they can become mobile superstars in the third and fourth quarters!
Marty Berman is the vice president of remarketing at InMobi, a mobile marketing and advertising platform provider.