American Marketer


Omnichannel loyalty and the impact of mobile devices on customer profiles and preferences

July 16, 2013

Michael Hemsey is president of Kobie Marketing


By Michael Hemsey

“Mobile marketing isn’t about screens or devices, it’s about behavior.”

That was Anna Bager’s provocative title to a recent article on Advertising Age where she reminded readers that mobile’s mass adoption – hovering around 50 percent of populations in major world markets and nearly one-third for global adoption – makes it one of the most important marketing mediums ever to evolve.

Ms. Bager, vice president and general manager of the Interactive Advertising Bureau’s Mobile Marketing Center for Excellence, stresses the need for what she calls “liquid creativity,” where marketing campaigns can easily adapt to any channel they come across with maximum flexibility and seamlessness.

In other words, mobile is not just about sticking a made-for-desktop Web banner ad on your mobile site and hoping for the best.

I could not agree more. But what does it really mean for marketers to reach this level of liquid creativity? And how can marketers go about achieving top-notch customer engagement?

It comes back to mobile phones, tablets and customer behavior.

Perhaps no other technology in history has been so responsive to user needs. And thanks to devices’ ability to record real-time locations and user actions, they provide marketers unmatched metrics from which to gain highly granular customer insights.

But here is the exciting part.

Unlike older, more static marketing channels – think television, radio and print – mobile engagement done well provides marketers vital shopper metrics, while also becoming a behavioral driver itself, albeit partially dependent on where and how the device is used.

Thus, users’ physical locations and their mobile engagement styles drive their behavior and, ideally, brand affinity.

Analyzing mobile behavior for maximum relevancy
Brands must embrace this unique mobile opportunity by aggressively engaging consumers via this medium, seeking their frequent feedback.

Imagine, for instance, that Jenna, a single woman who lives alone in New York, shops at a women’s fashion outlet.

Let us also assume that, while shopping, Jenna uses her smartphone to compare prices and share her selections with a friend in California, also shopping at a clothing store.

Both are engaging in a real-time social experience, thanks to the powerful technology in their hands.

Now, imagine during the time that Jenna is shopping:

• A push notification pops up on Jenna’s smartphone from a brand shopped with before offering a discount for laundry detergent.

The notification is not relevant to Jenna’s shopping needs: she is not shopping for groceries or detergent at a fashion retailer so I would consider this a misfire by the brand.

• An even bigger misfire would be if the women’s clothing retailer did not take into account her shopping behavior as a loyalty program member.

For example, Jenna continues to receive offers for men’s golfing gear despite giving her stated likes and preferences to the retailer.

It is clear this retailer is not using the information it has about Jenna, gathered through multiple interactions, to give her offers that are relevant and timely within the in-store context.

Offers for discounts on men’s sporting gear and apparel are not going to elicit loyalty from this single woman. If anything, she is likely to vent her frustration on social media or dismiss the brand to her friends.

An invite to try a new women’s line or offer on a fashion item that Jenna’s had sitting in her online or mobile shopping cart, however, is far more likely to result in a sale.

As many as 51 percent of shoppers who receive mobile coupons while in-store end up redeeming those coupons, so brands must use customer location to their advantage, relying on mobile as the delivery vehicle.

I was reminded of the above in a commercial from Visa called Strength Training for its Signature Card.

In the ad, San Francisco 49ers linebacker Patrick Willis represents the equivalent of those men’s apparel coupons for Jenna – the irrelevant offer.

“Todd,” the everyman in the ad, is a frequent traveler who chose the upgrade perk of a luxury car rental, which makes sense for him.

Todd was not interested in strength training with Patrick Willis, who appears on Todd’s doorstep saying, “you hurt my feelings, Todd.”

Granted, the ad is for a financial services company, but it perfectly illustrates why brands in all verticals must listen to what their customers want and act accordingly.

Minding your Ps and … Ps (Profiles and Preferences)
Back to Jenna’s shopping experience: consider the engagement potential if the store recognized it was her birthday and sent relevant messaging and offers to her while shopping.

That would greatly improve her location-based brand experience. And gathering this level of granular information also helps brands discover shopper profiles and preferences.

A shopper’s profile is a holistic view of individual customers – what they like and dislike beyond their relationship with a brand.

It also about capturing what they do recreationally and using those insights to create an engaging brand experience to drive incremental spend. Much of this information can be obtained via social media.

A shopper’s preferences, however, are more brand-specific. What do they like to buy? Where do they shop? How often do they shop? Which channels do they prefer to shop through? And through which channels do they prefer to engage with your brand?

What is more, studies continually show that location-based advertising is a growing revenue generator for brands: it is estimated to capture $398.3 million of local digital marketing spend in 2016, up from $58 million in 2012.

Even in the face of widespread U.S. data security concerns related to Internal Revenue Service probing and NSA mobile phone metadata collection, many consumers (51 percent of 18-34-year-olds), are still willing to reveal personal information via mobile provided they get a timely, relevant and engaging loyalty experience in return.

A large majority (56 percent) of the same age group said they would also be willing to share their actual real-time location. This is also where loyalty program aggregation and the sharing of data between loyalty programs are key.

Mobile’s omnichannel loyalty opportunity

Just as mobile can be an effective consumer metrics accumulator and behavior modifier, it has additional omnichannel implications.

Omnichannel loyalty, an enterprise-level initiative to drive, track, measure and reward incremental behavior throughout the enterprise and customer experience, is dependent, as the name implies, on consumer outreach across all channels, or at least consumers’ preferred channels.

Considering that mobile is so dominant a marketing and lifestyle force – 90 percent of 18-29-year-olds admit to sleeping with their smartphones – it is often the best way for marketers to learn what their customers truly want and how best to engage them with experience-driven offers that do more than simply offer points for rewards or discounts.

Mobile really is about the consumer behavior the channel collects and the behavior it helps influence.

As new technologies such as smart watches and augmented reality glasses, as well as the embedding of smart technology in nearly all products from clothing to windows to tables, start to become commonplace, it will become even more critical for marketers to use the mobile channel – in all its manifestations – appropriately.

Michael Hemsey is president of Kobie Marketing, St. Petersburg, FL. Reach him at