The Post-Pandemic State of Mobile, Part 3: 4 Ways Retailers Can Establish an Effective Mobile Engagement Strategy
During the pandemic, brands turned to digital initiatives to reach customers, not only for marketing, but also for other stages of the consumer lifecycle. Here at Vibes, our own data showed a 200 percent increase in automated mobile transactional messages from January 2020 to December 2020. The messages ranged from providing consumers with information about store closures to how to shop online, all content associated with providing a safer customer experience.
Additionally, brands saw a 20 percent increase in mobile engagement clickthrough rates (CTR) in 2020 compared to 2019. These higher CTRs indicate consumers prefer mobile messaging as a main form of communication with brands. What’s more, mobile engagement benefits brands by providing a massive database of consumers that have opted into communications that brands can then mine for optimal segmentation and personalized outreach based on attributes and behaviors.
It’s no secret that consumer behavior continues to change as we enter a post-pandemic world, and brands must take advantage of this data in order to remain successful. Let’s explore four key strategies for retailers to effectively tap a consumer’s most personal and trusted device through mobile engagement.
1. Frequent, Quality Acquisition
Building a quality database of customers who want to hear from you is a great way to get started in mobile engagement. Acquiring SMS subscribers is just the beginning, though. We see a lot of retailers come to Vibes with very high opt-out rates. These retailers are panicking because they know getting a subscriber who has opted out of a database to opt back in is extremely difficult.
In order to avoid this, retailers must focus on building steady and inviting opt-in channels via email, in-store at the point of sale, across social media, and on their websites. These CTAs need to attract quality customers and must explain the value of opting in. Once a customer has raised their hand, welcome streams informing them of the mobile program’s benefits, as well as providing a welcome offer can increase the likelihood of a subscriber’s stickiness.
Consumers are looking for more convenient ways to shop — whenever and wherever that may be depends on the customer. That's why segmentation matters in mobile engagement. What works for one segment of customers may actually turn off another. We work with our customers to identify new segments based on mobile behavior and sometimes segments emerge that are different than segments that have been previously established. A restaurant chain may find that some customers respond much better to time-sensitive offers for lunch while others want to plan ahead more and want longer redemption time windows.
Mobile conversations between retailers and customers create new data sets and new insights that need to be connected back into the rest of the tech stack. This will allow future segmenting and targeting not only on mobile, but within other digital channels like email or even offline channels like direct mail.
By using mobile engagement, marketers can build consumer profiles to better support the entire shopper lifecycle and experience both online and offline. With segmented consumer profiles, retailers can provide more automated and personalized services to satisfy consumer demand for convenient, relevant communication.
3. Data Integration
Retailers’ marketing, servicing and loyalty don't need to be — nor should it be — siloed. Each channel, from email to mobile to social, must be able to share data to create seamless consumer experiences. In 2020, mobile engagement proved it easily fits into existing journeys to benefit the holistic consumer experience. Fortunately, avoiding data silos is much easier today with widespread integrations between systems within a retailer’s tech stack.
4. Continued Investment
Almost every single customer of ours saw an increase in digital investment due to the pandemic. These investments were long overdue, but they are beginning to pay off as brands are now able to operate with improved data integrations and multichannel orchestration. With consumers demanding highly relevant, timely, and convenient experiences, retailers not utilizing all mobile engagement channels, including SMS, MMS, mobile wallet passes, mobile app push notifications, and inboxes, miss out on valuable opportunities for consumer engagement.
One investment we’ve seen accelerate is the upgrading of point-of-sale technology. These upgrades help consumers contactlessly check out and provide a safer experience in a physical store. The investment in contactless checkout has created a new opportunity for retailers in mobile wallet leveraging Apple Wallet and Google Pay.
The connection of SMS and mobile wallet has become a critical link between the digital and physical shopping journey. SMS and mobile wallet engage consumers in the gaps between email, which has high reach, and a branded app, which has high loyalty by providing app-like functionality to customers who may not download and regularly use a brand’s app. The continued investment in POS technology will continue to drive usage of adjacent technologies like mobile wallet. Particularly, as more and more consumers reach for their phones rather than their physical wallets at the checkout counter for not only their credit cards, but also their loyalty cards stored in their phones’ mobile wallets.
Mobile Engagement Can Fill Marketing Gaps
Last year highlighted and accelerated new trends in mobile engagement that will stay for the long term. From convenient contactless experiences like buy online, pick up in-store and curbside pickup, to new ways to segment, and expanded data integrations, mobile data will enable retailers to overcome old and new challenges. 2021 is a pivotal year for retailers, as the gap between effective and ineffective marketing widens, mobile engagement will fill the gap. Investing in mobile engagement through new channels, data integrations, sophisticated segmentation, and quality acquisition leverages the strengths of mobile and launches retailers to the forefront of consumers' minds.
Alex Campbell is the co-founder and chief information officer at Vibes, a pioneer in mobile marketing engagement.
Alex Campbell is one of Vibes' co-founders as well as Chief Innovation Officer. For over 20 years, Alex has helped shape mobile marketing both within the company as well as the industry.