January 2013

How Smart Brands are Effectively Using Mobile Engagement to Redefine Relationships with their Buyers

Table of Contents
Overview
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What not to do when engaging with customers What to do when engaging with customers Case studies People

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1-800-Flowers.com Texas Roadhouse Handy

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Budweiser Conclusions

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1

Overview
Smart phones are everywhere and whether we like it or not, they’re helping consumers with their purchasing decisions. Numerous studies have revealed that shoppers like to look up deals and discounts on their mobile phones, check out product reviews and compare prices, besides sharing pictures of products they like and might want to buy. Apart from these activities, of course, consumers are also actually making purchases on their mobiles; this section of shoppers comprised a respectable 34 percent in 2012, as compared to 19 percent in 2011 1.

Clearly, more and more people are not only doing their retail-related research on their mobiles; they’re also using these devices to fulfill their shopping needs. It’s obvious that any brand that wishes to tap this segment of consumers, which is rapidly growing, needs to seriously think about engaging with its customers via mobile.

Smartphones are powerful data-collection tools. They could be used in myriad ways by companies looking to engage more directly with their customers. The first and the most obvious way, of course, is connecting with them via location-based services such as Foursquare and offering them deals and discounts based on the number of check-ins. However, mobile engagement needs to be more than reactive. It needs to be deployed in order to not just get customers to buy more in terms of quantity and frequency; mobile engagement needs to be used to build an actual relationship with customers, so that there’s a two-way flow of communication, where customers can inform brands of

1 “Mobile Payment Use Nearly Doubles in a Year”; Tode, Chantal; Mobile Commerce Daily

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their choices and brands can keep customers informed of products and services.

As with all forms of communication, there is a wrong way and a right way to go about it.

What not to do when engaging with consumers
An important thing to remember when seeking to engage with consumers is that there is a lot of noise out there - whether it is in the form of banners, posters, billboards, television commercials, email notifications, text messages, internet advertisement or, increasingly, mobile ads. Your consumer will not appreciate you adding to the noise. She will, in fact, probably filter you out because these days there are means to do so.

So when you think about launching a mobile campaign to engage with your customers, think about how you can make the whole experience rewarding for end users. This cannot be done by getting them to scan QR codes which will lead them to a noninteractive, static website, which may not even be optimized for viewing on mobile devices. So keep in mind:

1) Mobile engagement needs more than just a nifty app or a QR code. Consider how you will employ your back-end resources to optimize the experience for your users, such as creating a mobile-friendly site.

2) There is no lack of information in cyberspace. So make sure you’re not adding to the clutter and keep your message simple, direct and fresh.

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3) When you get your consumers to your mobile site, make sure there’s actually something for them to do there. Finding a static, non-interactive mobile site is likely to disappoint your customers and it won’t encourage them to go further and explore your services and products. DME Automotives recently conducted a survey 2 of auto service customers who interact with QR codes and mobile apps. According to the survey results, the top two destinations that QR codes scanning led customers to were product information and links to the company’s webpage. These are static results which are deemed to be disappointing and a waste of time.

4) Also make sure that you have enough back end support for your mobile campaign. There’s nothing worse for your company’s image than having your consumers scan a QR code, only to find that the mobile site has crashed.

5) Not every customer is mobile-savvy. Having an elaborate Call To Action is likely to turn away those of your customers who either don’t entirely trust mobile apps or have little experience using them.

6) Don’t try to replicate the in-store experience. You need to understand that the experience of shopping in a brick-and-mortar store is bound to be different from shopping via a mobile device. If you try and replicate the former on a smart-phone, you’re likely to end up with something that is clunky and unusable.

7) However, that doesn’t mean you should treat mobile as a platform that stands in isolation, from all the other platforms that you could use. You can always find creative ways in which to integrate mobile with other platforms like social media and videos.

2 “New Research on QR Codes and Mobile Apps:What Customers Want”; DME Automotives

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What to do when engaging with consumers
There is no one right way in which you can build mobile engagement with your consumers. It entirely depends on your creativity and what your consumers’ specific demands are. However, it can be said that the one thing that all consumers wish to have when using mobile sites and apps is an experience that is relevant, easy and interactive. In other words:

1) Customers want something to ‘do’ when they reach a mobile site, and they demand information that is actually relevant to them. According to the results of the DME Automotive survey referenced above, what customers want most when scanning QR codes and using mobile apps are coupons, online appointment scheduling, service reminders, recall alerts and vehicle maintenance histories.

2) The content needs to be ‘mobile friendly’. Customers are more likely to stay on your mobile site if it loads quickly and is easy to view and engage with on their mobile devices.

3) If you’re going for mobile engagement, you need to prioritize speed. Most customers expect a mobile site to load faster than its desktop version and studies have shown that a one second delay can result in 7% loss in conversions 3. So try and minimize the number of clicks, page redirects and the steps that a consumer has to go through before s/ he can arrive at the relevant page.

4) If you expect your consumers to engage with you via mobile, you need to assure them

3 “3 Tips for Combating Mobile Shopping Cart Abandonment”; Desai, Rodger; Multichannel Merchant

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that their mobile experience will be safe and secure. For this reason make sure that all payment channels are secure and authenticated and that each customer’s data is stored securely, in case their smartphone is lost or stolen.

Case Studies
While there are many examples of mobile engagement strategies that did not work, here we will take a look at some strategies and campaigns that did work and what lessons we can glean from them.

Case I - People
Strategy
The Time Inc. magazine, People, decided to create a new mobile experience for its readers, by updating its mobile website with a new responsive design which would make content accessible across devices, irrespective of screen size. Liz White, the general manager of People Digital stated 4 that until then, the magazine had been operating under the mistaken assumption that all their readers were visiting the site for ‘info snacks’, whereas in reality, a majority of readers were spending more than five minutes there. The magazine re-configured its approach by launching the complete desktop content on mobile, including the celebrity blogs.

Additionally, People hired a full-time, dedicated mobile editor and launched a new dayparting strategy for content - in essence, the magazine decided to highlight content

4 “People Rethinks Mobile with New Optimized Site Redesign”; Kats, Rimma; Mobile Marketer

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based on reader consumer behaviour at different times of the day or week. For example, every Monday, there would be a mobile exclusive feature called ‘What You Missed This Weekend’, which would round up the popular stories from the weekend, while in the evening readers would get access to companion content for primetime shows like The Bachelorette.

The new strategy also included making it easier to share articles, so besides the usual Facebook and Twitter shares, readers would now be able to send their friends links to their favourite articles via text messaging.

Lesson learnt
By re-thinking its mobile strategy, People could offer an experience that was closer to what the desktop experience offered, while also paying attention to behaviour that was specific to mobile users.

Case II - 1-800-Flowers.com
Strategy
Unlike People, 1-800-Flowers.com decided that it needed to create a separate mobile strategy to be part of a larger strategy which also included the desktop experience. However, the company was was very clear on the fact that while the mobile and desktop experiences would complement each other, one would not replicate the other.

This means that while all the desktop features came embedded in the mobile experience, such as shopping cart, mobile-only features were also included such as

5 “How 1-800-Flowers Creates a Unique Mobile Experience”; Tierney, Jim; Multichannel Merchant

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a GPS-enabled store locator and a feature called ‘Find a Gift Fast’, which allowed users to quickly find relevant gifts, based on the occasion and the user’s zip code. The new strategy also allowed social media integration and did away with certain little-used desktop features, such as order tracking.

The implementation of this strategy resulted in a 25% rise in the average time spent on the 1-800-Flowers.com site, as well as a 53% reduction in cart abandonment.

Lesson learnt
Exactly replicating the desktop experience does not always work. 1-800-Flowers understood that and used that knowledge to leverage mobile-specific features like GPS to improve its customers’ mobile experience.

Case III - Texas Roadhouse
Strategy
Texas Roadhouse had discovered that customers were engaging a lot more with the content published on its local Facebook Place pages, than with the brand page 6. This revelation caused the company to incorporate a mobile strategy that would bolster its social media engagement with customers, the logic being that Texas Roadhouse projects itself as a community restaurant and the focus, therefore, is on localized customer engagement. Having a mobile strategy in place helps because customers use their smartphones to engage with their local Texas Roadhouse.

There was a significant improvement in the engagement between the company and its

6 “Texas Roadhouse drives brand awareness via mobile, social efforts”; Kats, Rimma; Mobile Marketer

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customers, as Facebook check-ins rose by 33 percent. There was also a 22 percent increase in the number of Instagram photos taken by Texas Roadhouse customers, who would then tag the pictures to their local branches. The company, in its turn, shared content on its local restaurant pages and curated customer-generated pictures from Instagram and Foursquare.

Lesson learnt
By using combining its mobile strategy with its social media presence, Texas Roadhouse built brand awareness and also reinforced its image as a community restaurant.

Case IV - Handy
Strategy
Seafood company Handy found a great way to promote sustainability with its traceable QR Code artisanal fish program 7. Whenever a restaurant took delivery of Handy’s products, it would find a six digit lot number on the packaging. Restaurant owners would be able to enter this number into a trace register widget on Handy’s website. They would then be able to download a QR code that they could use in the restaurant. Customers who would scan these codes would then be able to see the path that the fish took from the sea to their table, besides a host of other details about the fish including its country of origin, production method and fishing method.

Clearly, the company had recognized growing consumer awareness of the need to have sustainable sources of food and they used a mobile strategy to deliver the relevant information immediately to their end consumers. This two-step strategy benefits both

7 “QR Codes help promote sustainability”; Smolski, Roger; 2d code

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Handy and the restaurants that it supplies to, since they can be identified by customers as being sources of good quality, sustainable seafood.

Lesson Learnt
Handy took QR codes, a great tool for mobile engagement with customers, and used it to full effect by supplying its end consumers with relevant information, building a reliable reputation for itself and the restaurants it supplies and promoting transparency about food sources.

Case V - Budweiser
Strategy
Beer brand Budweiser adopted a mobile strategy in order to share the history and the heritage of the company with its consumers. Here too QR codes were used to share information about the different beers that the company produces, as well as brewing methods, ingredients, and the various stages of the brewing cycle.

QR codes were displayed on the product packaging which, once scanned, would take consumers to details of that specific brew’s history and provenance. The company, which is widely respected across the world and has a global population of loyal consumers, had recognized that one of the best ways of building a brand’s image is through sharing its story and vision with the people that matter the most - consumers.

Lesson learnt
By using mobile engagement to share its history with its consumers, Budweiser ensured that they too would feel a part of the company’s story and would identify more directly with the brand if they knew exactly how and where their drinks were made.

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Conclusion
We’re at a stage where we can no longer afford to think of consumers as a uniform block with exactly the same demands and concerns. They require different types and levels of engagement from different companies and it is wise to remember that. This is exactly what we see in the cases mentioned above. In the case of People, the mobile engagement strategy was strengthened once it started to replicate the features of the desktop engagement strategy of the company, while in the case of 1-800-Flowers.com, it was the fact that the mobile experience was so different from the desktop experience that worked. Mobile customer engagement can also be a way in which to educate customers and to answer some of their more pressing questions. Handy saw that more and more consumers today are interested in knowing exactly where their food comes from and they made this knowledge a crucial part of their mobile strategy. Mobile is an invaluable platform on which to build a community of loyal consumers and that is exactly what the Texas Roadhouse did, whereas Budweiser found success in its mobile strategy by spreading brand awareness and making its customers feel like they are part of the brands journey.

There is, as stated before, no one strategy which can be adopted to find success with mobile engagement. The important thing to do, before committing to engaging with customers on the mobile platform, is find out how the company’s consumers are using it, and to understand what they need from such an engagement. Once the answers to these questions have been found, it is only then that a successful mobile engagement strategy can be formed.

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