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33pc of consumers interested in joining mobile loyalty program

A new study by Hipcricket points to the fact that mobile’s role in holiday shopping will be different and more important than past years, making it key for brands and retailers to have a sophisticated presence in the space.

Mobile retail Web sites have emerged as an in-store shopping companion. Consumers are relying on their devices to locate the products they want, search for coupons and special discounts, and compare prices at competitors’ stores.

“Increasingly, shoppers are using their mobile devices – in particular, mobile retail Web sites – when they shop,” said Eric Harber, chief operating officer of Hipcricket, Kirkland, WA. “This is true for etailers, but it also in the bricks-and-mortar retail world.

“Retailers need to remember that consumers always have these devices at arms’ length, and aren’t afraid to check to see if a competitor has better inventory or lower prices,” he said. “But this is an opportunity, too – retailers should embrace this.

“A great example is the Macy’s Backstage program that Hipcricket powers – there are QR codes and SMS calls-to-action to connect shoppers in the store with relevant content and offers as they shop. Shoppers are ready to interact.”

The 2011 Hipcricket Mobile Marketing Survey is a national survey designed to provide insight into consumer behavior and attitudes towards mobile marketing. The survey was conducted in October via email and is based on 607 respondents.

Mobile retail
Sixty-three percent of smartphone users have visited a retailer’s Web site from their mobile device, compared to 53 percent in 2010. Additionally, 41 percent have done so while in the retail store.

Interestingly, 50 percent have checked a competitor’s mobile Web site while in another store.

Historically, mobile retail sites were lightweight versions of retailers’ PC Web sites. They were mostly relied on for information such as store locations, directions and hours.

All of that has changed. Today, consumers expect mobile-specific retail sites to provide significant benefits to them. And, retailers need to be using their mobile Web sites as a tool to move consumers through the purchase funnel.

Seventy percent of all smartphone users use their device regularly to access the mobile Web.

Smartphone users are accessing mobile retail Web sites to research prices (46 percent), search for coupons and offers (36 percent), research products (28 percent) and purchase products (13 percent).

“Remember, you’re a guest on your customers’ mobile device,” Mr. Harber said. “Be respectful of the opt-in nature of mobile marketing but don’t overstay your welcome.

“Give them useful, compelling content – tips to save time at the holidays, special recipes – and special offers on things you know they want to buy,” he said.

“Whenever possible, use the data in your CRM systems in combination with mobile in order to stay relevant.”

Only 9 percent of survey respondents reported they are being marketed to by their favorite brands on mobile.

However, respondents showed a willingness to join mobile customer relationship management or loyalty programs for their favorite brands. In fact, 33 percent would be interested in joining such a program, but only 12 percent currently participate in one.

Additionally, 75 percent of consumers found value from participating in mobile loyalty clubs.

During the holidays, 61 percent of consumers will likely use their mobile device as a shopping companion.

Overall, 31 percent of all mobile phone users have interacted with a brand through their mobile device and 59 percent of smartphone users have done so.

Also notable, 33 percent of mobile phones users are interested in receiving offers based on time and location. For example, a coupon delivered at noon for $5 off a pizza at a local shop.

“Mobile’s got a seat at the table now – it’s a critical, cross-channel marketing element, rather than a discrete, siloed activity,” Mr. Harber said.

“Increasingly, our customers are seeing the benefits of connecting customer-facing mobile marketing technologies such as mobile retail sites or ongoing SMS campaigns with back-end CRM and enterprise marketing automation solutions,” he said.

“It’s not just about single campaigns any more. Savvy marketers are often beginning with mobile advertising and tying it into a post-click engagement strategy to build an ongoing relationship with customers and prospects.”