What comes after apps? It’s an important question – especially for brands. In the desktop world, web pages rule. But with the transition to mobile, the desktop model of ‘search box, keyboard, browser, website’ doesn’t work quite so well. Apps have prevailed.
The trouble is, most consumers only have the patience and preference to use a few or so. On the average mobile screen, utility apps come first – like email, Facebook, travel and weather apps – and then one or two hero brands. Statistically speaking, brands have a slim chance that one these apps will be theirs.
So what alternatives do brands have to reach their customers on smartphones? Have any other viable pathways emerged? According to Syniverse, there has: mobile wallet.
Now, mobile wallet is a tricky topic, since many consumers are still figuring out what it is. But the reality is something extremely compelling and powerful.
Mobile wallet is a channel that offers a fresh approach to reaching customers. It offers a one-of-a-kind capability to seamlessly deliver coupons, rewards, tickets and payment options straight to a customer’s phone, at a place on the phone where they can be used straight away.
What makes Syniverse’s proposition different is that it’s not trying to offer something new. Instead, it’s tapping into the only two products with any real traction among users: Apple Wallet and Google Wallet.
Syniverse has devised a simple tool that brands can use to generate a mobile coupon, which lives inside these two services. This coupon-generator was actually created by Vibes, in which Syniverse made a $45 million minority-stake investment earlier this year.
What Syniverse has added to the proposition is improved messaging, which makes it easier for senders to get these coupons to consumers, along with extensive global reach. Brands can send a link inside a text, email, push notification or even an ad. And all the recipient has to do is click on the link and ‘save to wallet’.
Brands can send a link inside a text, email, push notification or even an ad. And all the recipient has to do is click on the link and ‘save to wallet’.
This is crucial. It means that brands have the means to adjust campaigns in real time. With various messaging channels at their disposal, they can tweak a promo and alert users to any change on the fly. In fact, a coupon can even be made location-sensitive, so it prompts the customer when they come near a shop. And it stays in the wallet where it can be updated in real time.
Dave Ratner, president of Syniverse’s Enterprise Solutions group, thinks this is unprecedented.
He explains: “Say a retailer is doing a 10-per-cent-off sale. The retailer can make it 20 per cent on the last day. Or the retailer can change a Halloween special to a Thanksgiving special. And the retailer can do it all with messages or by updates to the lock screen. The user doesn’t have to do a thing. The whole platform is able to be dynamically updated, and that’s something brands have never really been able to take advantage of before.”
The user doesn’t have to do a thing. The whole platform is able to be dynamically updated, and that’s something brands have never really been able to take advantage of before.”
The Syniverse and Vibes mobile wallet solution has already scored some big successes. Perhaps the most eye-catching was a campaign by the restaurant chain Chipotle.
To increase in-store traffic to Chipotle restaurants, the company pushed out a special quiz to millions of customers that offered them several personalized mobile wallet offers in return for participating in the quiz.
In the end, Chipotle achieved a 20 per cent mobile-wallet-offer redemption rate over the campaign’s five-week run time.
Of course, there is a caveat. Although Apple Wallet and Google Wallet have more adoption than many other proprietary wallets in the market, they are hardly mainstream. Ratner concedes this, but thinks it won’t stay this way for long: “Plenty of people use these wallets to keep airline tickets or event passes or movie stubs. I see this as the start of a new consumer behavior.”
Ratner also recognizes a degree of wallet ignorance among brands too. However, he says they quickly grasp the advantages, once they’re explained. And what they love most is the ability to ‘close the attribution loop’.
“The problem with most offers is linking the promotion to the person who redeems it,” he says. “It’s almost impossible to do this with a paper coupon, for example. But here, the phone is the identifier, so you can see what works. It finally closes the gap between digital and brick-and-mortar.”
The real-time nature of the offers can also make customers feel warmer towards the brand. Ratner gives the example of credit card services: “In the past, a customer might get a discount and not even know about it until after they look at their statement in 30 days’ time.
Here, they can claim a reward at the moment of purchase. Research shows people feel better about this kind of real-time reward than an even better one they get later.”
Needless to say, Syniverse is now targeting the wallet service to its financial services customers. But it sees opportunities for every kind of enterprise. Even mobile operators. In the past, they have launched apps that let customers see their allowance, track their usage and maybe even buy added services. But, to repeat, there’s a limit to how many people will actually download them.
In the past, they have launched apps that let customers see their allowance, track their usage and maybe even buy added services. But, to repeat, there’s a limit to how many people will actually download them.
Ratner believes wallet content could be a ‘thin’ substitute for these apps: “Rather than open up an app to see how much data you have left, you could have a wallet item that pushes a notification to the lock screen when a pre-set limit is hit, for example. There are lots of possibilities.”