American Marketer


Mobile closes the gap between bricks and clicks

October 8, 2012

Gary Elphick


By Gary Elphick

When we take a look at how communications platforms have evolved, we have often been led to believe that bigger is better. But when we look at the reasons why those platforms have evolved, it points plainly at what is next and for retailers, at least, I am not convinced that bigger is necessarily better. In fact, I would argue the opposite.

Print brought us a means to communicate with people. We wrote to them once a day in the hope that they would buy our things and then later tried to attribute sales to this.

Radio and television came along and allowed us to connect further by speaking and asking them to buy our things, during more intervals in the day. We estimated audiences, profiled them and then tried to compare this to sales.

Need for immediacy
People are so demanding, they no longer wanted to wait for news and entertainment – they wanted it immediately and so the online platform grew at a staggering rate.

We, as marketers, moved our strategies to match the media use and now concentrate heavily online.

As our whole worlds moved online, we saw the path to purchase join up another set of dots from awareness through to interaction, and eventually purchase via our new online retail outlets. This meant we could start to attribute sales to media spend in search of that illustrious ROI figure.

However, there is still a gap between bricks and clicks. We have no solid way of knowing how our online campaigns – clicks – affected traditional offline purchase – bricks. Some argue that this is the start of the end for traditional retail. I argue we just need to find a way to close that gap.

Mind the gap
How do we close down that gap? Mobile.

1. Linking the data through the funnel

Mobile can link the stages all the way down funnel and even recycle back again.

Consider mobile as a way of changing the funnel into an endless hourglass – from awareness through to consideration and ultimately purchase – including in-store mobile payments via near-field communication, PayPal retail or Apple’s Passbook.

This linking of the dots and the data captured means creating awareness of your next product or campaign becomes easy, as does analysing purchase behavior and, ultimately, directly calculating ROI.

2. The ad-space is underutilized
Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers’ Mary Meeker in her 2012 Internet trends report shows the large disparity between media consumption on mobile and the percentage of ad-spend on the medium.

The space has a large amount of eyeballs for a relatively low spend and will continue to be an underutilized media as the industry works out the best-practice strategies for using it on its own means. Therefore, increasing awareness via mobile is extremely cost-effective.

3. It is an always-on media
Mobile is an always-on media. We would sooner leave our wallet at home than we would our phone. Google and ISIS are working on a solution for that one.

It is this fundamental shift in our 24/7 demand for content and thus media consumption that provides the opportunity for retailers and advertisers alike.

It is an opportunity to reach you at a time we have not had access to before. This becomes particularly relevant because those times are generally between traditional media consumptions such as on transit, outdoors or whilst in shops, which are conveniently are on your path to purchase.

4. It is immediate
Google tells us that nine out of 10 mobile searches lead to action and 50 percent lead to purchase within one hour. Fifty percent. No other medium offers a conversion rate as high or immediate as this.

So now we have access to a media that we can attract your attention at a reasonable price, that you carry with you 24/7, that leads you direct to purchase and has the ability to capture all the data and recycle you back into the funnel.

Therefore, bigger is not always better. In fact, for retailers the opposite is true. Just make sure that what you are doing with it counts.

Gary Elphick is cofounder of Swipe, a cloud-based NFC marketing agency in Sydney, Australia. Reach him at