Across all industries and segments, global and national brands are spending more time on researching, studying, and implementing mobile marketing strategies. From mobile advertising and mobile wallets to mobile sales mechanisms and reward-based mobile advertising, executives are realizing the current benefits and planning for the future opportunities mobile has in store.
Here are some thoughts about the present and future trends associated with mobile marketing, according to industry and marketing association thought leaders.
While there was skepticism in the first few years, companies now see the benefit of using mobile wallets, such as Apple's Passbook and Google Wallet, and are adopting and offering this mobile tool at a greater rate. For example, Rachel Silva, Head of Mobile at Pep Boys, noted such advantages as ease of implementation and use for the business, store associate, and customer. Another advantage of mobile, is the ability to seamlessly bridge offline and online marketing efforts.
As she noted, "All consumers can access mobile wallet coupons from our website. They go to PepBoys.com on their phone. Click on coupons and then add any coupon to Passbook or Google Wallet." The success can be noted in adoption rates where, of the customers that have viewed the mobile coupons, 26% adding it to their mobile wallet and, of those, 30% are redeeming the mobile coupons at a Pep Boys store.
Other retailers are experiencing the benefits of mobile wallets, including Men's Wearhouse, which started using Passbook in 2013 and then added the "Save to Wallet" option in 2014. The result was a tenfold increase in redemption rates from emails that offered the wallet feature compared to those emails that did not. Estimations for 2015 are seven-figures sales due in large measure to coupon redemption from Passbook and Google Wallet.
For Matt Stringer, Executive Vice President of Marketing at Men's Wearhouse, the marketing advantages are clear: "You get better metrics and data on engagement and redemption because you can finally gain visibility into the moment the customer makes a conscious decision to pull content from their email and save it to Passbook or Google Wallet. By adding that simple "Save to Wallet" button to our emails, we can close the loop on redemption, drive customers in-store, and persistently engage them at the same time."
Although mobile wallets are easy to adopt and have proven to create more dynamic communications between companies and customers as well as drive greater revenues, Jack Philbin, Co-founder and CEO of Vibes and Vice Chair of the Mobile Marketing Association's Global Board, also offers some good advice for marketers that use it for the first time.
He said, "Brands implementing mobile wallets for the first time deliver their branded content into Apple's Passbook (for iPhones) and Google Wallet (for Android phones.) These are the mobile wallet apps consumers are most familiar with and the two dominant mobile wallets in the industry. In the case of Passbook, the app is pre-installed on every iPhone, providing massive reach. Google Wallet has a significant share of the market as well, and will be pre-installed on all Android devices later this year."
Other recommendations include focusing on a promotion that is already in the works in relation to an upcoming holiday or event. It is easier to convert an existing print or online coupon into mobile wallet content than starting with an entirely new campaign. It is also an ideal tool to seamlessly integrate into an existing loyalty program, saving customers the hassle of carrying all those other plastic cards while delivering continually updated reminders, point balances, and exclusive offers.
Mobile as a Sales Mechanism
The mobile platform has expanded in its capabilities to serve as an effective sales tool directed at greater efficiency, real-time information for informed decisions, and enhanced engagement. As Adam Wood, head of global marketing operations for Xarelto projects at Bayer, explained, "If you get the right content set up in the right way, then mobile allows people access to the information where they learn the most and share it with others in the field."
On the other hand, Mark Romano, Senior Director of Education, Quality & Sustainability at illy caffè North America views mobile as a real-time informer: "Being mobile removes a natural barrier that can occur based on time of day or place of use. Plus most mobile apps have a small footprint and ready accessibility that are critical when you're in front of a decision maker." He also pointed out that "gamification" has created a new level of interest and engagement to propel sales efforts and encourage audiences to actually enjoy the sales experience.
Reward-Based Mobile Advertising
As the opportunities for mobile expand, new applications are developed, including reward-based mobile advertising. Lars Albright, CEO of SessionM, described this new application as a "form of native in-app advertising that is based on a value exchange between brands and consumers. Consumers opt-in to engage with a brand experience and, in return, they get rewarded for their time and attention. The reward could be in the form of virtual currency, virtual goods, or even access to gated content or services."
Since researchers have estimated that consumers interact with their mobile devices over 100 times a day, it can be difficult to determine at what point during these interactions is the consumer most likely to engage with mobile advertising. This is where reward-based advertising can provide the answer.
Companies like Unilever see the advantages that result from using mobile loyalty and rewards, including greater mobile app activity and advertising activity. Marc Mathieu, Senior Vice President of Global Marketing for Unilver, said, "Our shopper marketer teams are able to effectively engage consumers in the store with content, experiences and coupons that ultimately lead to a sale. Continuing the dialogue after a purchase helps us build brand loyalty." The company has experienced unprecedented levels of personalized engagement with more than 70% of consumers opting in to engage with Unilever's brand content as well as sharing via social networks, visiting the company's brand destinations, or making a purchase.
Similar results have been noted by other organizations, including The Weather Channel. Cameron Clayton, President of Technology, noted such advantages as direct relationships with customers, which helps them to better understand who they are and what they like so they can deliver more personalized content and ads. According to Clayton, the success rate has been incredible: "We've seen millions of users opt-in to the program and those who participate are using the app three times more frequently. Ultimately, the native ad opportunities built into the experience are delivering millions of incremental ad dollars while making weather fans happy."
The Future of Mobile Advertising
These and other visionary executives also see great things in the future of mobile advertising. According to Marc Mitchell, Co-founder & CEO at Lootsie, the current environment already features value-added advertising alternatives that enhance the user experience. In this way, the user has a more positive perception of the brand that does not take away from the app or game where that mobile ad appears. In the future, he predicted that "brands and developers will start to function as partners to offer a unique user experience. Quality will continue to be more important than quantity, and bombarding users with display ads will be less and less of a priority."
Executives also see a bright future for increased adoption of mobile wallets by businesses in response to customer preference for this convenient tool. Moving beyond just a payment platform, mobile wallets will become so much more in terms of the non-payment side as a marketing mechanism for building loyalty.
Mobile will also continue to be a valuable sales tool in terms of not only becoming standard operating procedure, but it will also deliver a full suite of sales tools to help the sales force in the field with learning and sharing information as well as refining and enhancing messages on the fly. As wearable technology, mobile essentially will help sales team immerse themselves in the process of selling to generate new levels of performance.
As Duncan Lennox, CEO and Co-founder of QStream, further explained, "A mobile-first approach can have a significant impact on sales enablement, playing a critical role in separating best-in-class field sales teams from their competitors. According to Aberdeen Research, companies that engage in mobile-enabled sales activities see significant performance gains. Higher customer retention rates and more accurate sales forecasts than their competitors were also reported."
For those in the mobile marketing space and the companies that are already benefiting from tools like mobile wallets, reward-based advertising, and sales platforms, the future of mobile seems to be filled with mass adoption, improved engagement, greater revenues, and exciting innovations.