Labor Day may have just passed but it might as well be December if you’re a retailer. While most people haven’t even started thinking about Halloween or Thanksgiving, retailers are already revving up their holiday strategies. As retailers lay out their plans to drive traffic to their stores and Web sites, customer experience should be at the core of their plans, say experts.
“Your customers will judge you on how well you create a customer experience,” maintained Gartner research vice president Gene Alvarez at IBM’s Smarter Commerce Global Summit last week. “As a result of things like Internet price visibility, customer experience is going to be your biggest differentiator.”
Alvarez noted pleasing the customer is harder than ever: consumers want their products and services “easy, fast and personalized but they want you to also respect their privacy.” In addition to other major trends—social media, SaaS, analytics—that are affecting e-commerce, mobile, according to Alvarez, continues to play a growing role in the way consumers engage with retailers. “Mobile is going to influence the customer experience,” observed Alvarez, “In ways we haven’t seen yet.”
For the first time ever, more than half of all U.S. mobile device users now own smartphones and use their phones to go online, according to reports from Nielsen and the Pew Research Center. With more consumers becoming comfortable with the notion of using their phone or tablet to research and shop online, analysts and retailers expect mobile devices to play a major role in this year’s holiday shopping.
It is imperative that marketers approach mobile advertising carefully, says Jack Philbin, chief executive officer of mobile marketing firm Vibes. “Retailers have to…maintain a delicate balance of time, location, and interaction when using mobile as a channel to reach today’s connected shoppers or people will simply unsubscribe from you,” Philbin said yesterday at the Mobile Marketing Summit in New York.
According a Vibes survey of more than 1,000 consumers, more than half (69 percent) of consumers have unsubscribed from a retailer’s mobile database due to too many messages or updates.
Philbin also shared three tips for making mobile marketing memorable:
#1 Build shopper confidence with a holiday hub
Create a holiday-themed mobile site that is separate from your main site for gift ideas, special deals and events. Promote the site through email, social media, QR codes, etc. “Anything that provides useful information for the consumer can be a great way to build trust,” Philbin says.
#2 Offer jump-the-line passes
Create excitement by giving consumers the opportunity to sign up via text for a chance to win a pass to avoid the lines at your store or an access code to your Web site. Also, make it easy for the winners to share their news with their followers on social media.
#3 Create a 12 days of holidays campaign
Keep the energy going through the season by letting customers opt-in to receive holiday product updates, events, and offers. Consider offering a special deal or coupon for a certain number of days.
While it is a good idea to experiment with mobile campaigns, marketers should also keep the pitfalls in mind, warns Philbin. “If a consumer has a bad experience, it’s amplified since they’ll tell all their friends,” Philbin says. “You do need to take risks, but you should also think about what your long-term engagement strategy will be. Consumers have a low tolerance for mediocrity.”