Mobile Commerce Daily is now Retail Dive: Mobile Commerce! Click here to learn more!

451 Research exec: Mobile personalization elusive without omnichannel infrastructure

NEW YORK – Executives at Mobile Marketer’s Mobile FirstLook: Strategy 2015 conference agreed that while the Holy Grail of mobile marketing is one-to-one personalization, many marketers still need to focus on building an omnichannel database and determining how to truly add value for customers before they can get there.

During the panel, “Database/CRM: Potential to Build Relationships on Mobile Lies Unexploited,” the executives discussed the significant impact mobile is having on marketers’ customer relationship management efforts. At the same time, others are struggling with how mobile can enhance relationships with loyal customers.

“Personalization is still the Holy Grail,” said Sheryl Kingstone, Toronto-based research director of 451 Research/Yankee Group. “It is still problematic – unless you have the plumbing and the organization don’t even bother.

“Get that single view of the customer,” she said. “If you can’t understand all the different touch points, than draw a line and do more segmenting.

“Because otherwise you will make an error and retarget customers with something they don’t want.”

Doug Platts, vice president of search strategy at iCrossing also participated in the panel. Jeff Hasen, founder and president of Gotta Mobilize, moderated the panel.

Providing context
Yankee Group’s data shows that 55 percent of consumers would recommend a business only if they have a mobile loyalty program that can provide mobile rewards.

GameStop is one of the marketers that has had phenomenal success with mobile loyalty.

One of the benefits of mobile for customers is that it can remove some of the friction in making purchases as well as learning and redeeming rewards.

Sheryl Kingstone, research director of 451 Research/Yankee Group and Doug Platts, vice president of search strategy at iCrossing.

“We get a lot of people asking should I or should I not create a loyalty program – what is the benefit for my business?,” said Ms. Kingstone.

“Mobile is changing a lot of this,” she said. “The benefits are very strong or very poor depending on the industry.

“It it is about the data. What you get is the information about the customer journey before and after – if you tie that to something that adds value, then you can use that information to propel your engagement strategy and provide context.”

Operations challenge
For mobile to truly provide value, efforts need to be well thought out.

For example, quick service restaurants have been quickly ramping up with mobile ordering over the past 12 months, with these efforts often tied to loyalty efforts.

However, early results show that some QSRs are seeing longer lines for mobile order pick-ups than for customers ordering at the counter upon arrival.

“The problem is not mobile,” Ms. Kingstone said. “The stores are optimized to fulfill the orders.

“Things like operations and inventory – this is going to be a huge challenge for 2015,” she said.

One example of how mobile can provide value to customers that does not involve an offer is an airline sending a text message when there is a gate change for a traveler’s upcoming flight.

Despite these gains, many marketers struggle with what will be relevant or valuable to mobile users.

“That is where I try to promote a database of profiles that have stated and preferred behaviors,” Ms. Kingstone said. “Marketers have to build a way to understand what customers want across channels, learn from one, share across the other, change it and modify it.

“If we don’t have that repository, there is no way we can do two-way communications,” she said.

Beacons are a good example of how mobile is enabling unique engagements with customers. The ability to reach customers based on where they are inside a store has greater potential to provide value than geo-fencing and sending a message to anyone who steps inside in the geo-fence.

However, there is still much to learn in terms of consumers’ preferences – how many location-based notifications will consumers find valuable and at what point do they become spam?

“Some of the case studies are showing that the closer you get to proximity, the easier you can deliver relevance,” Ms. Kingstone said.

“If I am shopping in a store, and right by the jeans, how much more relevant can you get than this to give me the information that I want.”

Opportunities to use beacons that reach beyond selling are also starting to emerge and are built into the journey of the store.

Another potential fail on mobile is retargeting. If marketers do not have an omnichannel view of their customers, they could be retargeting them with content that is not relevant.

One of the challenges in trying to drive more personalized experiences is the need for more manpower.

“Personalization doesn’t suddenly make things more streamlined,” said iCrossing’s Mr. Platts. “You need to create 100 pieces of content.

“Clients need to understand that a lot more manpower is involved,” he said.

Final Take
Chantal Tode is senior editor on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York