There’s a good chance you're reading this post on your phone; the effect of the mobile-first age.
But what does “mobile first” mean when it comes to marketing strategies? It means creating an experience where you anticipate your customer not having a printer readily accessible. It means understanding that a customer will not always have reliable Wi-Fi access to download rich images and videos. It means going beyond scanning a physical loyalty card. It means leveraging the power of mobile notifications and geolocation. There are a multitude of channels, methods of communication and personalization capabilities that can be leveraged and intertwined to engage consumers through their beloved phones.
Here are some key trends to keep an eye on:
Brick-and-Mortar Extends Digital Presence
Even just a few years ago, making your marketing strategy “digital first” meant optimizing your website and sending blast email campaigns. In the near future, digital first will be true to its name — particularly in retail. Specifically, expect to see brick-and-mortar retail reserved for well-established, legacy businesses. For instance, only now is Amazon.com dipping its toes in the water of brick-and-mortar, which has been made possible by its top-class digital presence. And with phenomena like cashier-less stores, ensuring a stellar mobile program is paramount to engaging in-store customers. As a result, brick-and-mortar will be an extension of digital and, more accurately, mobile presence. Retailers should build an experience that aligns with customer preferences, tailoring to mobile through a myriad of channels like push notifications, simple messaging services (SMS), and rich communication services (RCS) further down the road.
Don’t Forget About Old Faithful: Text Messaging
Among the many ways for marketers to reach customers today, messaging is still one of the most effective. Some marketers are less excited by the text-only limitations that SMS is bound to. Instead, marketers will look to new tools like RCS, which comes fully loaded with location sharing, audio/video enhancement and even encryption. This, along with the rollout of tools like Apple Business Chat, will allow brands to foster an identity through the messaging space. But remember, shoppers cannot even receive those video-laden promotions unless they carry newer RCS-enabled phones, like the Android or Samsung Galaxy 8.
Marketers shouldn't abandon tried-and-true channels for shiny new toys. New messaging services like RCS will do wonders for engaging customers, but with tools like these, the trick to capturing shoppers lies entirely with messaging personalization. Shoppers want to feel connected to brands’ messages, and don’t always want to feel like they’re on the receiving end of a sales pitch. There’s something to be said for the understated, yet personal text-based message about your favorite brand’s latest product or deal.
Loyalty Programs Win the Hearts of Your Customers
As consumers opt for the convenience of digital purchases, retailers can harness the power of mobile messaging to drive customers through their doors. Mobile wallets are being leveraged by marketers more and more in the retail space, contributing to the rise in adoption of digital loyalty cards, which help generate more revenue per customer. Shoppers can now build a wealth of loyalty points and redeem with ease on their phones at payment terminals without having to carry around stacks of plastic loyalty cards.
This loyalty war will be crucial for retailers to engage in and marks an opportunity to think about ways to make enrollment fast and easy, while personalizing the experience. Rather than scrambling to grab customers’ contact information, paying through mobile wallet can automatically transfer that information into a profile, kicking off a successful loyalty program. A brand can then use this loyalty enrollment as a foundation for personalized, tailored messaging to bolster redemption rates and keep customers coming back.
Mobile messaging is taking the retail space by storm. Today, brands looking to drive awareness and ultimately sell something can do so in new, efficient ways, dramatically changing the way brands look to drive conversion in retail. It's up to marketers to be thoughtful about how and where they reach customers. Expect to see deeper personalization through messaging services, push notifications and loyalty programs. In the end, your customers are unique, so your mobile marketing should be, too.
Jack Philbin is the CEO at Vibes, a mobile marketing solutions provider.
Related story: Mobile Data: The Holy Grail for Brick-and-Mortar