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American Eagle tries on mobile contest in fitting rooms

In a reflection of the wide range of possibilities for in-store mobile engagements, American Eagle Outfitters is making its second attempt to bring a mobile contest into the fitting room at bricks-and-mortar stores, with the latest endeavor promoting back-to-school apparel and denim.

The apparel retailer launched a back-to-school contest, in which customers trying on items from its Denim X and Flex lines can enter through text for a chance to win a monetary prize, Apple products and other numerous prizes. This is American Eagle Outfitters’ second inclusion of mobile into dressing rooms and is among several others attempting to bridge the divide between mobile and fitting room experiences, which may be in part due to simpler campaign strategies with higher retention rates and easier to track results.

“While a standard sweepstakes can hardly be hailed as a truly creative marketing campaign there is a reason that so many retailers continue to run them,” said Shuli Lowy marketing director at Ping Mobile, New York. “Sweepstakes are effective at driving consumer action. It is as simple as that.

“SMS sweepstakes are particularly effective because they are easy to enter and the post entry messages have extremely high open, engagement, and redemption rates,” she said. “While AEO released positive sentiments about its beacon campaign there are several reasons that AEO may have chosen to run this as a pure SMS campaign instead.

“One of the major considerations was likely that the beacon campaign was limited in its ability to reach people. The beacon campaign was operated through Shopkick which meant that in order for consumers to be able to access the campaign they had to have the Shopkick app already downloaded as well as their bluetooth turned on. SMS, on the other hand, is accessible to anyone with any mobile phone. For AEO that is likely most or all of their shoppers.”

Untethered campaign
Varied sizes of contests produce higher engagement for American Eagle, as it is aware of the pull that small incentives for consumers cause. Various prizes are offered in this campaign that range from $10,000 cash to an iPhone6 to a MacBook Gold laptop and Apple Watch.

In the retailer’s new back-to-school contest, all entrees receive a fifteen percent coupon off a purchase of $75 or higher. To enter the sweepstakes shoppers trying on apparel from its collections Denim X and Flex are prompted in dressing rooms to text the word Jeans to 32453.

Participants are directed on to a mobile link, which gives iPhone users the coupon for 15 percent off to save in their passbook. American Eagle also sends the digital coupon through email, also able to be accessed through mobile.

American Eagle has previously served mobile ventures inside the fitting room. The integration of mobile into dressing rooms can mean higher engagement rates, while offering a more effective method in monitoring campaign success.

For instance, in October of last year the retailer leveraged beacons to offer small rewards for trying on apparel.

Users of the American Eagle mobile application received in-app messages that notified the consumer of deal incentives for trying on clothing. The retailer was able to track results of the campaign, which showed that double the amount of shoppers entered fitting rooms after receiving messages, compared to shoppers who had not received messages (see more).

American Eagle did not leverage beacons for the newer campaign. The retailer may have chosen a separate route apart from beacons and in-app messaging to reach a wider range of consumers., as consumers must have to have previously downloaded the app and in-app notifications must be turned on to receive these message.

Many smartphone users attempt to stay away from an overload of various apps on their devices. Consumers would rather have one app that includes all brands, rather than a specific brand app – unless she is a very loyal customer.

Opening up the contest through text allows American Eagle to increase the amount of users engaging the campaign, as any mobile device user can be reached.

Mobile merger
Merging bricks-and-mortar and mobile campaign tactics has been a difficult task to achieve in the retail world. However, the opportunity for unique and engaging commerce efforts is vast, which makes retailers more interesting in mastering this divide.

Last year, Aeropostale encouraged users to enter its stores with a text invitation for a big reveal. Users who texted Now to an Aeropostale SMS number for updates on the retailer received the invitation, in attempt to drive in-store sales (see more).

Also, U.S. Polo Assn. used mobile to fill a need for consumers while in-stores. The brand solved the problem of trying to find an accurate size, which every shopper knows well and solved it through a mobile platform that finds an accurate size for the user.

Macy’s also incorporated a visual search into its mobile app for users to search for items at locations and discover more information on the item and similar products.

“When you are picking a prize for a sweepstakes it is important to pick something that will resonate with the target audience,” Ms. Lowy said. “We can imagine how a typical AEO shopper would be excited to get a new set of Apple products.

“Over the numerous SMS sweepstakes we have run at Ping Mobile we have found that the ones that receive the most text ins are the campaigns that pick prizes that really fit their target audience,” she said. “Instead of focusing on the monetary value of the prize try to think about what sort of products would excite your customer base.”

Final take
Brielle Jaekel is editorial assistant at Mobile Commerce Daily