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Syniverse: How brands are using mobile to engage customers

mobile technology transformation mobile technology transformation
Photo credit:

Hamza Butt

Syniverse's Mary Clark summarizes the way brands are using mobile channels to better engage their customers.

As fast as mobile technology has been evolving, what’s been equally astonishing is how fast brands have been integrating mobile as a game-changer in their services.

To understand this transformation better, Syniverse partnered with Hot Topics to sponsor a series of interviews with CMOs to gauge the extent to which mobile is redefining their brands. To date, the series has revealed a willingness by brands to embrace digital thinking across diverse sectors, and many of their stories are worth understanding together.

In particular, we’ve seen through the series that the willingness extends to consumer brands known for their competitive pricing and quick convenience, as well as to brands whose reputations are built around tradition and heritage.

Let’s start with Wendy’s restaurant chain, for example. It’s reshaped its entire marketing and in-store systems around digital – especially mobile. Wendy’s customers can now pay in-store from a mobile app and order from dynamic digital screens that change in real time.

What’s more, the company has rethought its approach to advertising. It has run video ads on Periscope, Snapchat and Facebook, and it has been careful to make these campaigns genuinely native. It does this, in part, by making ads that don’t need sound, which suits many consumers who view video without audio on mobile.

Kurt Kane, CMO of Wendy’s, says: “The world used to be focused on the television broadcast, but our engagement now is generally stronger within our digital outlets.”

Peninsula Hotels offers another example of a company revolutionized by mobile technology transformation, but on a different end of the brand spectrum. People typically choose to stay at a Peninsula because of its long history of luxury – its parent, Hong Kong and Shanghai Hotels, is over 150 years old.

But though the interior of a Peninsula is beautifully traditional, the company itself has embraced mobile technology transformation. It launched its own R&D lab in 1985, and says it is still the only hotel company in the world with such a facility.

More interestingly, Peninsula doesn’t have a native app. The company believes its customers do not have the ‘real estate’ on their devices to warrant it. Instead, it maintains an advanced mobile site that focuses on providing genuine utility.

A case in point is the speak-address function. This lets guests plot a voice-guided route back to the hotel from their location, and this function shows how mobile can give brands the ability to be a companion, not a mere seller of products and services.

KAYAK, the online hospitality search specialist, offers another example of mobile brand transformation. The company is a digital pure play. It grew rapidly after launch in 2012 on the back of desktop search, but it has had to reposition itself with offering an app for the smartphone to allow users to manage their itineraries, browse airport terminal maps and check flight status updates. Going beyond its own app, the company has developed a chatbot inside the Slack workplace messaging app to let people ‘chat’ with KAYAK using natural language.

Stephanie Retcho, SVP of North America Marketing at KAYAK, says: “Although customers can’t buy from us, we do offer a KAYAK booking path that we think can’t be beaten. We aim to give our users the right information at all times, and in one place.”

Similar thinking prompted insurance company Aviva to develop a mobile offering on its Drive app.

The app was first driven by the fact that most people don’t engage with insurers unless they are buying a policy or making a claim. Mobile, however, can change this dynamic, and Aviva’s Drive app does this by using GPS to let customers find out how safely they drive. If they are sufficiently good, they can get discounts.

Jan Gooding, Aviva‘s group brand director, says: “There is absolutely no doubt that financial services brands are having to think about the changing purchasing process. Creative thinking encourages people to do more than just purchase particular policies – an example of which is the Drive app.”

In part two of this series summary article, we’ll look at mobile brand transformations from some other industry sectors.

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