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Do not separate mobile strategy from online strategy: keynote

GRAPEVINE, TX – Retailers should not formulate a separate strategy for mobile but rather focus on reaching consumers wherever they want to interact with their brand across all channels, according to a keynote address at the National Retail Federation’s conference.

How consumers buy continues to evolve, and while most retailers still struggle to understand how traditional media, digital marketing, mobile commerce and social media will work together in tandem for best results, there are many and surprising digital opportunities unfolding around shopping and buying.  Consumers have never been so powerful, and they have never been so connected.

“Many retailers ask ‘What is our mobile strategy versus what is our online strategy?’ and that’s bad,” said Mitch Joel, Montreal-based president of Twist Image and author of “Six Pixels of Separation.” “They have to rethink what it is to be a connected consumer.

“We have to expand definition of what digital means and what social means, as people expect commerce to be social and they expect mobile connectivity to be there,” he said. “We can see how these applications play out for consumers—can take a picture of a product in Best Buy using their smartphone, view online ratings and get price comparisons.

“The consumer isn’t thinking ‘I have to go home to the fixed Internet because they have a Web strategy that’s different than their mobile strategy.’”

Multiple touch points
Mr. Joel said that social media and mobile are new online touch points that are creating conversations where the results are staggering and loyalty continues to be off the charts for brands that understand the intersection of social and mobile.

As an example, Mr. Joel cited the SnapTell iPhone application.

“A consumer takes a picture of a book and the app tells you what the book is, all the places you can buy it online from cheapest to most expensive, it shows all the reviews in print and online and using the device’s location GPS, it is able to tell you how physically close to you and mapping how to get there,” Mr. Joel said.

“This is the current state of the retail environment,” he said. “People shop because it’s a social activity.”

Mobile and social media are changing the Internet drastically, so retailers must grapple with how to create marketing messages in a platform that is so different from traditional media.

A comScore study found a 50 percent drop in the percentage of people online that click on banner ads from 2007 to 2009.

“It got so ugly we stopped calling them banner ads—now we call them display advertising,” Mr. Joel said. “The Internet and all of the things we do every single day is fundamentally different from any other media channel, because it’s not passive, it’s an active channel.”

Retailers must realize that the Web is coming together with mobile and come to terms with what that means.

An example is Yelp’s augmented reality application, which features a street view of New York.

Consumers can hold up their phone, look through the camera and the application tells them how many stars restaurants, hotels and other businesses have. They can also read reviews, look at pictures and book reservations.

Starbucks has partnered with mobile social networks Foursquare, Loopt Star and Brightkite to offer incentives such as coupons for people checking in at its bricks-and-mortar locations.

Brands should put an emphasis on engaging with people who are checking in via social networks, basically raising their hands and saying they love you.

When it comes to mobile commerce, it is about creating an engaging, user-friendly, convenient experience that reinforces brand loyalty.

“Amazon Prime just made everything an impulse buy—it’s fast and I can return it, so let’s try it,” Mr. Joel said. “Consumers have smartphones and they’re doing all this mobile stuff—they’re very active and engaged.

“We tend to believe that people just buy the cheapest thing, and that’s not true—we actually live in the most branded generation ever,” he said. “Consumers are not as reliant on that bottom line as people might think—they’re actually very brand-loyal.

“Brands must build that loyalty and trust, and they can do it via mobile and social in a way that scales and is distributable across channels.”

Mr. Joel at

Final Take