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Underused mobile channels offer brands new approach to customer engagement

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Photo credit:

Jason Howie

Syniverse's Lisa Paccione discusses her thoughts on mastering mobile marketing, the rise of the mobile wallet and why brands should push forward beyond app engagement.

Lisa Paccione is a big fan of Starbucks – and not just for the Iced Caramel Macchiatos that she loves. A big part of her loyalty has to do with the way the coffee chain has mastered mobile.

“If you look at Starbucks,” she says, “you see how it’s possible to use mobile to change the customer experience and improve loyalty.”

Indeed, among other successes, recent figures show that Starbucks Rewards now has 13 million active members and that mobile payment made up 27 percent of transactions.

Paccione should know about the possibility of mobile. As vice president of sales for the Americas at Syniverse, a mobile marketing and services specialist, it’s her mission to persuade enterprises across all industries to embrace mobile in the same way. This isn’t as daunting as it may seem, she says, because, after all, the consumers are already there.

“Research shows consumers spend 25 percent of their daily media time on their mobiles,” she says. “But brands are spending just 12 percent of their ad budgets on the mobile channel. They really need to change that. Strategically targeted mobile marketing has the ability to take this engagement to the next level.”

Another mission for Paccione is countering the idea that mobile marketing equals an app.

On this front, one of the unfortunate side effects of the huge success of the Apple App Store and Google Play is that every brand has come to think: “If I have an app, then I’ve ‘done’ mobile.”

Wrong, says Paccione. “You simply can’t view an app as your primary mobile engagement strategy. The truth is that up to 90 percent of all downloaded apps are used then deleted or abandoned after one month. And even when they are used, they don’t drive action. We’ve found that just four percent of consumers say they always make a purchase after checking the app for information.”

Paccione urges brands to consider all mobile channel options, not least the oldest and most rudimentary one – text messaging.

“A lot of brands have never even considered text,” she says. “But the hard facts are that the average read rate of text is 95 percent, and conversions can reach 10 per cent when a message is well-written and well-targeted.”

Paccione gives the example of a furniture retailer that remedied its customer care problems with the astute use of text. She says: “The brand had challenges, especially when it came to deliveries. So it used text to provide timely alerts and updates. In this way, it transformed the experience for customers. That simply would not have been possible with an app. People who buy one item maybe every two years cannot be expected to download an app.”

Another intriguing mobile channel option to increase mobile wallet engagement is the mobile voucher inside Apple Wallet or Google Wallet.

Syniverse offers a simple tool for generating these coupons. Brands can send a link to them inside a text, email, push notification or even an ad. Then, all the recipient has to do is click on the link and ‘save to wallet’.

Obviously, a wallet coupon is richer than a text message. Companies can personalize them with on-brand visuals and make them location-sensitive (so they prompt customers when they near a shop). Companies can also tweak them in real time. Thus, a Thanksgiving offer can become a Christmas offer. And these messages appear on the lock screen, so they can be kept ‘front of mind’.

Paccione sees the wallet coupon as a ’light app’ – a medium that comprises the richness and interactivity ability of an app with none of the barriers associated with downloading and maintaining an app.

She predicts a rise in mobile wallet engagement and thinks consumers are ready to embrace this new channel, and says Syniverse research shows 72 percent of consumers now say they are interested in having the ability to save their loyalty card to their phone.

She thinks this growing acceptance may be thanks largely to airline ticketing. “I travel a lot, and I like to study the way people store their boarding passes,” she explains. “It’s obvious to me that most people have switched to mobile. They like the convenience and the updates. Obviously, the airlines like the fact they have so much valuable real estate to strategically place more information.”

Syniverse’s own customers have started to see results with mobile wallet engagement, too.

Syniverse says it has witnessed an additional nine percent redemption rate when a company sends an ‘offer due to expire’ reminder.

And Paccione points out that one quick-serve restaurant achieved 10 million coupon downloads and a 67 percent in-store redemption rate. At the same time, another US retailer used a combination of in-store signage, social media posting and direct mail to attract a million registrations.

The crucial point here is the application of multiple channels to concentrate on one goal. That’s why Syniverse offers a single dashboard through which a brand can create campaigns that use all available options: wallet, text, push notification, email, etc.

What’s more, the cloud-based platform supports multiple levels of expertise. At one extreme, there’s a full campaign management option, for which Syniverse can create campaigns to order. At the other, there’s a DIY service for brands that need no support or training.

Paccione wraps up by explaining: “In just days or even hours, it’s possible to create a campaign that touches consumers across all possible mobile channels.”

And to this end, Syniverse is releasing cross-channel guides with use cases, best practices and case studies, to help brands boost their mobile engagement. The initial guide, focused on leveraging text messaging, can be downloaded here.