Mobile is more geared towards personal than purchase

M-commerce may be well on the way to becoming mainstream, as Marketing Week’s trends analysis this week looks at in more depth, but mobile devices shouldn’t just be seen as a tool for transactions, the value is in creating a direct relationship.

In a recent conversation, Alex Meisl, chairman of the Mobile Marketing Association and digital agency Sponge, told me that mobile’s strength comes from its ability to make a high level of personalisation possible. His view is that as mass media becomes more fragmented and less powerful one to one conversations will gain traction with consumers.

This goes hand in hand with the finding, by research firm Simpson Carpenter, that 71% of smartphone owners are using mobiles on shopping trips, and means it’s a major opportunity for retailers and brands to use mobile apps to create a one to one conversation with customers throughout the purchase journey.

However, some retailers are missing a trick in this area. For instance, take Marks & Spencer as an example. Customers that have opted in to receive marketing messages from M&S receive a regular message reminding them about its Dine In for £10 promotion. In principle, this is a good idea, but most customers seem to receive an identical message every time, which loses its impact and is ignored.

If M&S were to take time to get to know more about its customers, their preferences and shopping behaviours it could segment and tailor the messages it sends to customers. Instead of getting a generic “remember our Dine In for £10 promotion” message, shoppers could be nudged towards specific offers based on their previous purchases.

This more personal communication would inevitably lead to an uplift in sales because the message would be more relevant.

What retailers should be aiming for is getting to a position where they can use mobile to recognise a customer as soon as they enter its store. Using geo-location technology, married with information such as purchase history and personal details retailers, can offer tailored promotions and recommendations that are relevant to the individual and the time and place they are shopping.

Amazon’s recommendations are a fairly simple, but effective, example of this online. By using what it knows about its customers, Amazon makes personal recommendations on products they might also be interested in which leads to more sales.

There is, or course a delicate balance to strike to avoid being intrusive on personal devices, but if customers opt in to that kind of relationship, it would mean effective, personal one to one communication with customers when they are in the mind frame to shop.

Tesco, which has admitted it has a job to do to improve its marketing and make it “warmer”, has recently appointed former O2 marketing Mark Cody to a newly created role to lead its mobile activity. One major element he is specifically tasked with is making better use of the data Tesco has to make its mobile marketing more personal.

It is one to one communications that turns marketing into a service for consumers. Retailers and brands, if they get their personalisation strategy right, will be providing a service that is in the customers interest and in turn generating more sales and a better relationship.

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