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21st Century Marketing

Smartphone and Tablet Become the Messengers
Prepaid Press Edition: August 1, 2012
Arlene Hauben

No one can ignore the proliferation of smartphones and tablets that enable consumers to access the web as they stroll through malls and stores pondering what to buy. These devices are poised to disrupt the future shopping experience.

Yes, the possibilities for mobile marketing and customer loyalty offerings are limitless. According to Krishna Subramanian, chief marketing officer for Velti, a mobile advertising and marketing company, brands are able to use these devices to build a direct, personal relationship with their customers, bringing a new meaning to convenience. NFC payments, m-commerce, and Passbook-like features provide instant gratification, which ultimately drive sales.

Tablets provide sales clerks with a new tool to conduct clienteling, a retail term for the interaction between clerk and shopper. The modern version of clienteling is mobile by design, neatly packaged on a tablet, saddled in the shop assistant’s arm, wrote Gary Schwartz in his upcoming book Fast Shopper. Slow Store. A Guide to Courting and Capturing the Mobile Customer (Simon & Schuster, Atria Imprint).

Engaging consumers through mobile is currently a hot topic. Because tablets offer so many ways to engage customers with content, they represent a huge opportunity for marketers.

Tablet and Smart Mobile Enhance Shopping Experience, Driving Sales

Top retailers are already using tablets to interact with the shopper. For marketers not already utilizing tablets to engage with customers, now is the time to get started, say mobile technology leaders.

Findings of a research study by the Pew Research Center in conjunction with The Economist Group revealed that as mobile usage continues to increase among consumers, tablets have become more than a passing fad and should be considered an important part of the mobile marketing strategy. According to eMarketer, worldwide tablet sales will grow by more than 317 percent over a two year period, reaching 129.9 million units by end of 2013. The iPad is the dominant player in the market, with a 65 percent global share in 2013.

Staples Technology Solutions reported that more than 90 percent of surveyed tablet users stated that portability was the number one motivator for purchasing a tablet. With more tablets coming on the market, including Google’s Nexus 7, Kindle Fire and the Droid, consumers can easily find one that fits into their budget.

Increasingly, retailers and restaurants are deploying mobile devices such as iPhones, iPod touches and iPads in their locations to connect with the customers and provide them with information. The strategy recognizes that a growing number of consumers go into stores to look around, while at the same time checking their smartphones to find a better price somewhere else. By placing iPads in the store, the sales associate has a chance to interact with the customer to win the sale.

The use of smart mobile devices helps the customer compare prices elsewhere, but they can also help the employee check inventory and field customer questions about the product, with the objective being to engage the shopper and capture the sale through personal interaction.

7-Eleven is one store that is strengthening its position in the mobile marketing space via a new initiative that drives consumers to its locations to find their favorite Slurpee flavor. At the same time, it incorporates rewards and sweepstakes to sweeten the deal.

The convenience store chain is running an interactive mobile campaign within Pandora’s iPhone application. A clearly designed ad leads the consumer to a mobile site that offers a choice of products that are available, with each flavor leading to calories and nutrition details. The 7-Eleven mobile banner ad reads “Flavor Your Summer. Learn More.” When browsers tap on the mobile ad, they are redirected to a mobile landing page where they can view the different Slurpees, a long-time favorite of 7-Eleven-goers.

Via the mobile ad, consumers can get product and nutritional information about the drinks. Through the 7-Eleven mobile campaign, users also find out how to get rewards, such as Slurpee totes, as well as enter for a chance to win a trip for two to Six Flags.

Z Gallerie, a home décor retail chain, is engaging consumers through iPad devices. The furnishings retailer is using iPads in its stores to connect and enhance the shopping experience for the customer.

The iPads are accessible at various points in 55 stores. The mobile device serves as a portable solution for salespeople to deliver a more personalized customer experience and to help customers access information about products online while they are shopping in the showroom.

Prepaid Providers Integrate Mobile Marketing and Loyalty

In the prepaid space, ClearLine Mobile, a mobile marketing and loyalty technology company, recently completed the integration of a mobile marketing and loyalty program for Global Service Solutions (Got Prepaid?), a distributor of prepaid products.

“It is the first time in the prepaid industry that a fully automated customizable and turnkey mobile marketing and loyalty program was fully integrated with a prepaid replenishment platform,” said Nate Moshkovich, VP, ClearLine Mobile. “The program, designed to create awareness and increase customer retention and sales, was customized to seamlessly capture transactions and convert them to marketing and loyalty actions in real time.”

ClearLine’s programs can feature mobile rewards and incentive plans, couponing, mobile and content websites, and e-commerce websites delivering airtime refills in real time, automated marketing, refill and low balance reminders and more.

Social-Local-Mobile Marketing

Walmart and Procter & Gamble are placing QR codes on bus shelters and trucks to promote their products such as Tide, Pampers and Gillette. Test campaigns were run in Chicago and New York City. The initiative lets consumers save on limited-edited everyday items. When consumers scan the QR codes, they get redirected to Walmart’s mobile site where they can buy the products.

Mobile ad campaigns like these by retail superstars demonstrate the next generation of marketing. At the same time, tablet devices are emerging as the screen to watch, projected to outstrip sales of both desktop and notebook machines. Online and mobile marketing, once aimed at notebook users, is likely to shift its focus to tablet screens. For marketers, tablets represent a wealth of untapped business.

Krishna Subramanian, chief marketing officer for Velti, predicts that mobile will eventually touch and influence every step in the consumer engagement cycle, empowering users with information at their fingertips. The explosion of smartphones and tablets has truly made the world a multi-screen experience, with consumers rarely, if ever out of reach of mobile advertisers. With mobile commerce gaining traction, expect to see huge increases in mobile marketing budgets as marketers try to reach, and engage consumers, wherever they are.

In the next year, reported Velti, we can expect traditional loyalty to get a makeover, and SoLoMo (social-local-mobile) to become the standard for targeting and communicating with consumers. •

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