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American Eagle Outfitters takes second place: 2009 Mobile Retailer of the Year

There were many worthy nominations, but after careful consideration Mobile Commerce Daily feels that this brand did an outstanding job in its mobile efforts. Here is a breakdown of American Eagle’s work in the mobile space in 2009.

Amongst its 1,000-plus stores and four brands (American Eagle Outfitters, aerie, 77kids and Martin + Osa), American Eagle has built a strong mobile database of hundreds of thousands of active respondents to date. 

The retailer was able to draw such a large number of respondents via a comprehensive mobile strategy that included email marketing, print advertising, sweepstakes, mobile commerce and social networking channels. 

Although American Eagle’s mobile success in 2009 has been achieved primarily through the use of SMS and mobile Web, the company realizes that new and exciting innovations are taking place every day.

As a result, the retailer is constantly evaluating new mobile opportunities to maintain a high level of interaction with customers and provide them with an optimal experience. 

Branding, customer acquisition and retention
American Eagle launched its mobile commerce site in August 2009 through Usablenet Inc., with a goal to always to be where customers are, whether it’s at home, work, school or while they are in the mall.

Specifically, American Eagle wanted to create a mobile-friendly extension of its Web site for consumers to use wherever they have interest in connecting with the brand.

Multichannel plan
From day one of its mobile program, American Eagle set forth a robust strategy that included specific tactics in order to 1) build its mobile database, 2) maintain that database by providing its mobile customers with engaging offers and promotions and 3) drive both in-store and online sales and increase ROI. 

To implement those tactics, American Eagle had to first incorporate mobile into aspects of both its traditional and digital marketing efforts. 

American Eagle’s traditional marketing efforts consisted of the following tactics:

• Loyalty program applications included a mobile field as well as a check box with legal copy that stated customers agreed to receive mobile alerts.

• Bag and box stuffers, along with 11” x 14” fitting room signage, were used to promote several sweepstakes with the inclusion of a mobile call-to-action as a point of entry into both the sweepstakes and the mobile alerts program.

• New store opening hand outs were dispersed, with a mobile call-to-action, in a small group of stores in an effort to promote new aerie stores that were opening in the area.

• A holiday direct mail piece was sent to targeted households with the inclusion of a mobile call to action.

American Eagle’s digital marketing efforts consisted of the following tactics:

• Emails were sent to the existing email database promoting the mobile alerts program with a link to sign up via a Web registration form, hosted by M3 Mobile Marketing.

• A sweepstakes offered an online point of entry in which a mobile field was included, as well as a check box with legal copy that stated customers agreed to receive mobile alerts.

• Social networking sites, such as Facebook and Twitter, provided the perfect home for mobile call to actions in the form of static banner ads, status updates and tweets.

Mobile calls to action contained unique keywords in order to track the success of each campaign.

Here is an example of one of the calls to action:

Qualified database of respondents
American Eagle is 100 percent compliant with the Mobile Marketing Association’s Best Practices Guidelines throughout the length of its program.  Every mobile call to action includes all of the MMA required information to ensure the customers are aware of what they’re subscribing to.  

Once customers respond to a mobile call to action, M3 Mobile Marketing goes a step further by running carrier verification to make sure the number submitted is a valid mobile number before it is entered into its mobile campaign management system.
As a result, the retailer has gained hundreds of thousands of qualified, unique opt-ins across all four brands within the last year.  

Customer experience
American Eagle’s mobile site is extremely user-friendly with minimal scrolling, easy to find items and excellent purchasing capabilities, all helping to meet the users’ needs. 

Throughout the mobile site, American Eagle also does an exceptional job of keeping site navigation logical and page layouts simplified, with only the essential information, which allows for minimum loading time as customers click from one page to the next. 

In terms of SMS messages, the experience is highly customer focused. 

Messages are sent on a weekly basis with relevant, and sometimes exclusive, mobile offers that include trackable discount codes to steadily drive both in-store and online traffic. 

Here is an example of a mobile alert:

Via mobile alerts, customers are often the first to find out about special offers and promotions, new arrivals and new store openings. 

If a subscriber chooses to opt-out of the program, they can simply text the keyword STOP to the brand specific short code. 

This information is provided in both the initial confirmation message, as well as the American Eagle Mobile Alerts Help Page at 

Mobile site as a model for mobile merchandising
The American Eagle mobile site provides a great example of how to maximize the space on a mobile screen with the most important offers and promotions that will drive sales. 

From a merchandising standpoint on the mobile site, they leveraged the success and expertise of its current digital channel experience. 

While they wanted to keep the look and feel similar to its site, American Eagle’s focus was to keep the mobile site simple to navigate and to present the information that mobile shoppers wanted or needed while away from their desktop. 

The brand recognizes that anyone coming to its site via a mobile device is doing so for a particular reason as part of their shopping experience. 

That could be for store location, price checks, size availability, deals, new product information, etcetera.  How or why they shop or browse the site on a mobile device is different from how or why they browse its site on a desktop.

American Eagle tries to match those intentions with how and what they feature on its mobile site.

Inventory management
Again, American Eagle is leveraging the success and expertise of its current digital channel experience related to inventory management issues.  They continue to monitor results and are keeping a watchful eye on how mobile device sales affect in-store sales. 

The retailer also keeps an open line of communication with Store Operations for feedback and anecdotal evidence on how customers engage mobile within the store.

Mobile site search experience
Both the “Find a Store” and “Search” features are found directly on the home page of American Eagle’s mobile site along with easy to access links to find the most commonly searched items. 

By entering a ZIP code into the “Find a Store” field, a list of stores closest to that location appear, along with the address, phone number (with the click-to-call feature) and a map.

Customers also have the option of searching a specific keyword or style number if they know exactly what they’re looking for on the mobile site. 

Response rates
From both an opt-in acquisition and redemption rate perspective, American Eagle has consistently maintained a high rate of response. 

With several targeted marketing initiatives and sweepstakes, American Eagle has managed to continually increase the size of its database.  In just one year, the mobile program is generating meaningful revenue, and growing rapidly.

• Database in the hundreds of thousands.
• Strong and rapidly increasing average redemption rates.

Mobile commerce and marketing creative
American Eagle understands that building lifestyle brands requires cross-channel integration, which includes its mobile site, as well as all supporting email, Web site, sweepstakes and print campaigns.

From its initial email campaign, to its weekly mobile alerts, the retailer’s creative is carefully designed and written in order to drive the optimal number of impressions and make an impact on the customers’ mobile decisions. 

To build awareness and adoption of its mobile program, American Eagle informed its millions of email subscribers through an email campaign, encouraging them to opt-in to its mobile alerts program. 

The results of American Eagle’s mobile commerce site’s efforts have been extraordinary.  Since its mobile site launched in August 2009, the percent of traffic to from a mobile device has more than doubled.

In addition, they have opened its site for business from all Web browsing mobile devices.  Previously, only a handful of mobile devices (five or less) could complete a transaction on American Eagle’s site.  Now they get orders from 70+ devices and the number grows steadily each month. 

Model of mobile commerce
Because of the great success of its overall mobile efforts in 2009, American Eagle has demonstrated industry leadership for the mobile model for retail.  By adding mobile commerce to its existing mobile strengths, it has effectively managed to fortify its place in the mobile marketplace.