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How mobile Web can cultivate loyalty

Mobile Web is commonly used by marketers who are looking to incorporate a rich, interactive experience into a mobile marketing campaign. However, smart brands and retailers can use mobile Web sites to foster a deeper customer loyalty.

From fast food chains to big box retailers, every smart brand has a mobile-optimized Web site these days, and for many companies mobile Web stands apart from other digital initiatives. Although mobile applications are typically reserved for loyal users, companies can also enrich their mobile Web sites to enlist a new group of engaged consumers.

“Brands are using the mobile Web to extend key desktop functionality to a growing number of mobile users” said Ryan Kelly, vice president of sales and marketing at Mad Mobile, Tampa, FL.

“At the same time, the mobile Web experience should address the specific needs of the mobile user by offering functionality such as location-aware services,” he said.

“It is not about simply replicating the desktop Web site on a mobile device but rather creating a unique and robust mobile experience that caters to the mobile user, and that is what ultimately drives site usage and conversions.”

Multichannel approach
Mobile Web is increasingly being used as the first place to direct users in a multichannel campaign.

For example, Jack in the Box recently rolled out its largest digital initiative yet (see story).

As a stepping stone into mobile, the quick serve chain is using a mobile-optimized microsite that educates users about the specific campaign.

Primarily, the mobile microsite serves as a one-off marketing tool for campaign-specific material.

Consumers can visit Jack in the Box’s main mobile site, but it is only accessible at the bottom of the page.

Jack in the Box also has an SMS program that it uses to build up its database and send users relevant messages. Making the sign-up for the service on the mobile Web site would help Jack in the Box get consumers to opt-in to the program and would help create a deeper relationship with consumers.

SMS continues to be the mobile channel with the longest reach, but brands are also increasingly making their text message programs more sophisticated with tailored deals and offers, which often includes links.

Therefore, it is imperative that mobile marketers optimize their Web sites for mobile devices.

Television marketing is also an example of how it is becoming a mobile-first world.

According to research from Neilsen Co., 40 percent of consumers watch TV on multiple devices, showing how mobile has high implications for marketers.

For example, if a company lists its Web site in a TV commercial, it is fair to assume that a decent chunk of the viewers who see the commercial will try to access the Web site via mobile.

If a mobile user is taken to a regular Web site, their experience is not tailored to their device and they have a stronger likelihood to leave the Web site. However, with a mobile-optimized Web site, users are more willing to interact, which in turn can build loyalty.

“We are rapidly approaching a time when a brand’s mobile Web site will be more important than the desktop site,” Mr. Kelly said.

“Mobile Web sites will continue to become more sophisticated to meet the needs of consumers while allowing brands to differentiate from competitors,” he said.

Rich sites
For many mobile-savvy brands, they are often entering the second or third phase of developing their mobile sites.

As brands develop more sophisticated mobile sites, they are learning which features are most important to creating a closer experience with consumers.

JetBlue is an example of an airline that recently rolled out a line of new digital tools including an iPhone app and refreshed versions of its mobile site and Web site in order to create a more personalized experience for its users (see story).

The focus of the new mobile Web site is to let JetBlue users manage and track their travels while on the go. The new mobile Web site is more interactive and in some ways looks similar to a mobile app.

Mobile apps have a stronger identity with loyal users since they are use prime real estate on a user’s mobile device, but with the growth of technology such as HTML5, more companies are looking to make their mobile Web sites more aesthetically pleasing as more consumers use them.

With the increase in mobile Web, brands need to develop mobile-optimized Web sites that give users device-related features in addition to all the functionality of a desktop site.

For example, click-to-call and location-based features lets users access something additional than a Web site can offer.

“In order to maximize their ability to reach potential consumers, businesses must deploy a comprehensive mobile site that incorporates everything consumers can do on the desktop Web site,” said Nick Taylor, CEO of Usablenet, New York.

“While mobile sites for specific campaigns and initiatives can be useful to build further brand loyalty, it is important to remember that all traffic directed to the campaign, whether it be from search, email, or direct, should receive a mobile-optimized view,” he said.

“As such, brands should leverage next-generation HTML5 mobile Web capabilities to deliver users a more engaging mobile web experience. To place themselves ahead of the competition, brands should incorporate advanced features supported by HTML5 including higher resolution image galleries with the ability to zoom in, easier product navigation and advanced shopping carts with overlays to provide consumers with increased functionality while delivering faster speeds.”

Final Take
Lauren Johnson is editorial assistant on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York