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Incorporate YouTube, Facebook, Twitter into mobile properties: exec

SAN FRANCISCO – An executive from The Sportsman’s Guide who spoke at the Mobile Shopping Summit stressed the importance of incorporating YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and other social functionality into a mobile app.

During the “Mobile Roadmap Part II: Unveiling The Technology Parameters That Have The Greatest Impact On Delivering A Consistent And Rich Mobile Experience,” panelists discussed how companies can leverage their mobile experience to engage consumers. The session was moderated by Marci Trouman, CEO of Siteminis, Atlanta.

“You have to give consumers an incentive to use our apps,” said Dale Monson, chief information officer and senior vice president of operations and distribution at The Sportsman’s Guide, a division of Redcats USA, Minneapolis. “That’s where we have to focus our time, whether it’s gaming or augmentation.

“It is important to incorporate YouTube, Facebook and other social networks into mobile properties,” he said. “There’s a lot of things that you just have to tie together.”

Apps for CRM
A SkyMall executive said that mobile apps are an engagement tool that companies can use to evolve their relationships with tech-savvy customers.

Mobile apps are a great way to engage consumers even when they are offline.

“We’ve taken initial baby steps to grow to where we are today,” said Jay Scannell, CEO of SkyMall, Phoenix, AZ. “From the data that we’re seeing, mobile is a very unique channel.

“Consumers use it in unique ways that are different from the ecommerce perspective,” he said. “When you look at the different capabilities, it was eye-opening for me when we were analyzing our app.

“To see that one customer in one location was having one experience and another customer in another network was having a different experience was concerning to us.”

Consumer engagement
According to Mr. Scannell, SkyMall rolled out a mobile app to ensure that the consumer experience was ideal and that it was able to be in the hands of customers wherever they are.

“We leveraged our iPhone app and it’s over 130MB and requires a Wi-Fi connection,” Mr. Scannell said. “But, it provides a full catalog to make sure that the customer has a good experience whether they’re online or not.

“We felt an app was important,” he said. “You need a reason to engage consumers – it’s an engagement factor and there needs to be a reason to do it.

“We’re continuing to innovate and evolve.”

According to Mr. Scannell, SkyMall is behind the times as far as marketing.

“You need to look at the mcommerce channel in a very unique light,” Mr. Scannell said. “How a customer uses that device is significantly different to how they would use it via your ecommerce site.

“We started with what does the device and the operating system bring to the table and how we can leverage that,” he said.

A challenge that many companies face is fragmentation.

“You have to understand what that means,” said David Sawatzke, vice president of strategy alliances at Sevenval, Cologne, Germany. “We have an in-house team that does nothing except test and organize.

“One of our slogans is that we believe in browsers,” he said.

Matt Caldwell, creative director of Infogroup, Omaha, NE, also said that fragmentation is a big deal.

“Device fragmentation is my life,” Mr. Caldwell said. “We have a big challenge with email and adding mobile to it as well.

“It comes down to good old fashioned checking in on the device,” he said. “BlackBerry still mangles email pretty well.

“We’re jumping out of our chairs when we read the BlackBerry 6 would use Web rendering.”

Mr. Caldwell said that it is important to make email scalable.

“Single column layouts in email will scale down better,” Mr. Caldwell said. “Design into a grid system is huge – it will scale down in proportion.”