By Stacy Adams, VP marketing, mBlox
With consumers carrying smartphones everywhere they go, the opportunity for brands to connect via mobile devices is huge, and growing. 2013’s Cyber Monday was the largest online shopping day in history, and mobile traffic accounted for 31.7% of all online traffic. As Wal-Mart’s CEO stated, 2013 will be remembered as “the year that online went mobile.” Smart companies will engage in broader customer care tactics via mobile devices, thereby deepening relationships and evolving those customers into long-term brand advocates, both on and offline.
2014: The Year of Mobile Care
What’s the best way that companies can take advantage of the mobile channel? I like to call it mobile “care.” Beyond simply engaging consumers around deals, promotions and even content on their mobile device, “care” goes one step further by helping businesses manage the full customer experience via the most relevant and accessible platform available.
We already know that consumers are willing to connect with companies and brands on their mobile devices. But what’s often surprising is that SMS (text messaging) remains the channel of choice. A survey conducted by Millward Brown Digital on behalf of mBlox in September 2013 found that 73% of respondents had received a text or push message from a company, and 68% found it valuable. Furthermore, four out of five consumers are willing to share information with brands to receive offers via text.
Given this landscape, savvy retailers can use text messaging not only to increase mobile and online sales, but to draw consumers back into stores. For example, retailers can invite consumers to a VIP event at local stores via their mobile devices. Or, brands can send a text message to consumers offering a 40% discount if a purchase is made online, but a 50% discount if the purchase is made in-store.
Brands that implement these tactics as part of their overall customer marketing strategy will have the best chance of establishing deeper and more valuable relationships with consumers, nurturing them from one-time customers to long-term advocates for the brand.
This process works the other way, as well. Once consumers are in the store, brands have an opportunity to entice them to interact via SMS. Forward-thinking brands will use the store itself to advertise the SMS campaign, expand subscriber lists and build brand enthusiasts. For example, a store can offer a customer 10% of their in-store purchase if they opt-in to the SMS subscriber list. Practices such as this will create a seamless experience for consumers no matter how they choose to engage with your brand.
Build Brand Enthusiasts
The concept of mobile care extends deeper into the customer experience than offers and discounts, ensuring that quality and service continue well beyond the point of purchase. For example, brands can send text alerts to consumers on an order’s shipping status. This provides real-time peace of mind to the consumer, at the same time decreasing call center call volume and enhancing performance for the retailer. Banks or credit unions may solicit feedback in the form of a mobile customer survey that can improve the consumer’s future experience with the brand, or will create personalized loyalty programs through SMS that consumers can choose to participate in. As 34% of the U.S. population defines themselves as “brand loyalists,” consumers are increasingly welcoming prolonged engagement opportunities with brands they trust.
Mobile care is quickly becoming an emerging opportunity for brands to set themselves apart based on quality of service, with SMS remaining the most effective and valuable way to get the attention of consumers, as it is often the most direct and personal communications channel of the mobile age. However, retailers that choose to interact with consumers over text must do so in a way that respects the highly personal nature of the channel and delivers messages that are targeted, relevant and aligned with the intrinsic value to the consumer.
By keeping care at the core, retailers can create meaningful touch points across the full cycle of the customer experience and derive the most value from online and offline channels. Driving powerful mobile care programs in 2014 will be a key way for brands to prove to customers that they really do care.