With seasonal soundtracks on rotation and shelves stocked with obligatory gift sets, the holiday season is here for retailers. More than $602 billion is predicted for this holiday’s season spending, of which nearly 16% will be online sales. It should come as no surprise, then, that consumers will be turning to their mobile devices during this shopping season.
But with as much that’s been said about mobile’s importance, there is still a level of disconnect between what marketers “can do” and “are doing” to connect with their mobile users. An informal 2012 survey of the top 100 retailers found that only a fifth of them sent push notifications to opted-in mobile devices. Nearly 75% of the brands surveyed by OtherLevels boasted a mobile app but fewer than half requested their customers’ opt-in for push notifications.
The trend this survey uncovered is alarming—companies are starting to embrace the mobile channel but stop short of fully leveraging it to gain insights into the preferences of their customers.
Consumers are using every tool at their disposal, from daily deal sites to showrooming and browsing on mobile devices in-store and at home, to find the best deals they can. As consumers tap and swipe at the portable screens that command so much of their attention, they leave data fingerprints that reveal their wants and needs. Action analytics helps marketers read these data trails to better understand their customers and, ultimately, give them the best possible mobile experience.
Today, marketers have three powerful tools to communicate with mobile-native customers (four if you count email): Mobile push, rich messages and SMS.
Each of these native mobile communication channels has its strengths and limitations. Mobile push notifications are a one-click opt-in and give marketers the chance to create short, meaningful and timely communications on mobile devices. Today, 91% of adults keep their mobile phones within arm’s reach while the 18-34 year old segment regards mobile as its first screen. According to Eriksson, smartphone sales are now outpacing those of other mobile phones for the first time. The takeaway: mobile has permeated every segment and population making it a critical channel for engagement.
Regardless of which messaging tool they choose, marketers have the opportunity to apply analytics tools and create a more robust customer profile and tailored messaging, which can be used through the holiday season and well into the New Year.
A/B split testing is a long-established practice of sophisticated marketers—from subject lines in emails to discounts and the placement of buttons on landing pages, every message element can be tested. Mobile messaging is no different; by comparing the language of mobile push messages companies can distill the best message to drive traffic back to their apps. Changes in tone, timing, offer and even colors in a design can be combined with various cadences to improve app usage over time. Different segments can be targeted with different audience-appropriate messages and then retargeted based on outcome. Stopping with the first iteration is a lost opportunity; dialogues are a continuous endeavor and require regular touches.
Marketers stand to gain a number of important insights from mobile messaging such as: Opened versus sent texts, time since last open, organic versus prompted opens and rates of conversions resulting in registrations, sales or social shares.
By varying message copy, delivery windows and other factors such as tone, length, language and aesthetics, companies can create specific goals and then test and iterate against them: this is data you can act on.
A good example of a retailer leveraging mobile analytics starts with a split test of an all-inclusive 5% discount across the board versus a specific, deeper discount of 10% on a category of items. This split can further be refined into groups based on frequency: those who have opened the app in the last 2 weeks and those who haven’t to gauge responses based on engagement criteria. Responders who open the message but don’t convert can be retargeted with a message offering free shipping. Recipients who didn’t click and received the 5% discount can be retargeted with a time-limited 10% discount, or a further split can be created that offers free shipping versus the deeper discount.
Marketers stand to gain a number of important insights, such as identifying the geo-location of the device and user, from mobile apps. By geo-locating users in specific regions marketers can optimize message delivery to follow the sun, and ideally, the rhythms of the workday. Testing delivery windows and localizing delivery to user time zones demonstrates a possible level of localization based on actionable analytics available through the mobile app and device.
The holidays represent a growth opportunity for brands eager to increase their knowledge of customer behavior and mobile adoption. Brands that leverage the data and apply careful A/B split tests to drive conversions can refine and improve their understanding of their customers. Too many brands stop short of applying a wealth of analytic data and smart messaging strategies and instead rely on broadcast messaging.
Today’s savvy shopper crowd sources product information and expects relevant offers and content. Mobile analytics is a crucial step in delivering personalized content and offers, breeding engagement improve customer retention and monetization.
Len Shneyder is a Marketing Manager with OtherLevels.