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Carriers hold the key to mobile marketing, mcommerce success: experts

Wireless carriers are uniquely positioned to drive effectiveness of mobile marketing programs and propel the growth of mobile commerce, according to industry experts.

Carriers can leverage their data to help marketers provide a better mobile customer experience and brands should form partnerships with them to further engage consumers. Customer experience is a hot topic among carriers and more companies are looking to improve that experience by using carrier data to solve customer issues in real-time.

“Carriers are uniquely suited to help mobile marketers because the phone is a proxy for where a consumer is and when they are there, which is highly predictive of what they might be interested in,” said Alistair Goodman, CEO of Placecast, San Francisco.

“This is not necessarily going to follow the Web paradigm of pushing ads based on user profiles,” he said.

Personalize deals
Carriers can create offers that are actionable in the real world and that take location into account.

Mr. Goodman believes that it will be largely opt-in and personalized, based on preferences that the user has expressed to the carrier.

For example, a consumer can provide their age and gender when they opt-in, and say they are interested in fashion offers nearby.

The carrier can then use that information to deliver fashion discounts to that subscriber using their network location data – when the consumer is near a store. It is important for carriers to leverage data when it comes to daily deals and offers.

For example, carriers can alert a brand like Kraft to the fact that working mom Sally is on her way home from work and would be receptive to an offer to download the Kraft quick recipe app.

Offering consumers an incentive is another way to further engage them.

Carriers such as Verizon and Sprint should take a page of AT&T’s book.

Earlier this year, AT&T became the first wireless carrier in the United States to offer a large-scale, location-based mobile marketing program to consumers and advertisers.

The company partnered with Placecast to provide ShopAlerts by AT&T – delivering coupons and discount offers to consumers via their mobile phones when they are near a participating store or brand via geo-fence technology (see story).

“Taking advantage of location data particularly for daily deals and promotions is absolutely key,” Mr. Goodman said. “When there is an obvious link between an offer and a place, consumers are much more likely to take advantage of the deal because they literally see how they can use it.

“When an offer can be further personalized with preferences that the user has provided, their likelihood to respond skyrockets,” he said. “These preferences may include categories or brands they are interested in and the time of day that they want to receive certain types of offers.

“We’ve done A/B testing incorporating location data versus generic messaging and seen two times lifts in performance – and when we have layered in category interest data that consumers provide when they opt in, we’ve seen offer redemption rates as high as 65 percent.”

Data advantage
Additionally, carriers can also enable users to take advantage of payment data – and facilitate transactions right there in the moment that can be fulfilled via their smartphone bill.

The deal-of-the-day model is an opportunity for carriers to drive new revenues at a time when a major focus has turned to monetizing the customer base and increasing revenues. What is unique for carriers about the deal-of-the-day model is that customers buy the offers directly from them.

Charges automatically appear on the customer’s bill or they are debited from their prepaid account, with merchants then realizing a revenue share for each purchase.

“We feel like the payment data is the linchpin to success,” said Lara Albert, senior director of global marketing at Globys, Seattle. “What’s interesting for us is that location is only one contextual targeting attribute.

“That data has to be harnessed to target context,” she said.

Online services such as Groupon and LivingSocial are seeing the advantages of offering consumers timely deals in their favorite local spots.

With online services such as Groupon and LivingSocial, merchants – mostly small and medium local businesses – contract to offer time-sensitive, deep discounts to a specified number of people on a given day.

The audience is local and has opted in by signing up to subscribe for deal-of-the-day emails, per Ms. Albert. Targeting is based on subscription and location, and the small business benefits include raising awareness, generating upfront revenue and, hopefully, gaining new, repeat customers.

The opportunity is there for carriers, but they are missing it.

Carriers have existing relationships with businesses – who are looking to promote products to existing and new customers – and the consumers themselves who are always looking for a bargain.

Carriers should partner with brands to leverage their existing information to be in the same playing field as Groupon and LivingSocial.

Nowadays, it is all about location-based services and carriers need to grasp that opportunity.

“It should be truly about marketing to someone on an individual basis,” Ms. Albert said. “And helping that carrier unleash the potential of customer data assets.”