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Brand image maintenance integral when developing mobile sites: panelist

Executives from retailers, SMS firms, mobile application and Web site developers discussed best practice in design, merchandising, payments, marketing and traffic analysis. All agreed that the most integral aspect when designing a mobile strategy is to convey the brand’s message through constant site improvement.

“Continuous improvement is something we strive for,” said Eric Rickson, director of mobile analytics at Webtrends, Portland,OR. “The mobile site you had last year could already be antiquated.

“You have to ask yourself, ‘What is the best possible experience a phone can provide, and how can consumers get the best possible experience that your brand can provide?”

Members of this panel were Dave Sikora, CEO of Digby, Austin, TX; Gary Schwartz, CEO of Impact Mobile, New York; Marc Plante, director of product development, Neustar, Sterling, VA; Eric Rickson, director of mobile analytics at Webtrends, Portland, OR; Marc Saulino, vice president of sales at Bango, New York; Kent Hathaway, senior group manager of digital experience at Target, Minneapolis, MN.

One voice
One aspect that sets luxury brands apart from other companies is customer service.

In the case of mobile, having a competent and user-friendly mobile site is a form of customer service.

“We always say that the experience has to be snappy,” said Dave Sikora, CEO of Digby, Austin, TX. “Navigation, images, page loads, all of these things are important, but think about the process flow and think about how many steps the user is forced to accomplish before they complete whatever task they are setting out for.”

Panelists Eric Rickson, Marc Saulino, Dave Sikora, Gary Schwartz, Marc Plante, Kent Hathaway

Whatever process that consumers are going through, whether it is to get further information or to complete a sale, it is important to minimize the number of clicks or marketers risk losing a customer, per Mr. Sikora.

These are steps that marketers can take to transition seamlessly across channels.

For instance, if a consumer goes into a luxury retailer and is met by a salesperson, that employee will most likely do whatever he or she can to make a sale.

Along that line, the salesperson has to be polite, eager, helpful and convey the general voice of the brand so that consumers get to know the company and hopefully become a brand ambassador.

Mobile must act as a salesperson, especially when conveying a brand image.

If customers do not have a pleasant brand experience, then they are less likely to close a sale.

Mobile is steadily becoming an important part of the brand experience and the way that consumers are spending.

In fact, retailers are expected to spend $220.9 million on mobile this year (see story).

Staying ahead
Along with brand image, the panelists stressed the importance of privacy.

When consumers are making a purchase via smartphone, there are always some hesitation with credit card security.

This is even more prominent in affluent consumers who are most likely making a high-priced purchase.

The panelists found that consumers are more comfortable sharing information with large, well-known brands.

Other huge factors are offering frictionless checkout as to not frustrate consumers away from buying. Marketers can also work on driving consumers to mobile from other channels such as print, out-of-home ads and in-store.

Ultimately, companies need to follow all of these best practice to ensure a well-rounded mobile strategy.

“[Marketers] need to not think of mobile as just another vertical, but about a horizontal where you can move them to the right thing at the right time,” said Gary Schwartz, CEO of Impact Mobile, New York. “A horizontal through all of the verticals.”