By Bob Johns, associate editor
Consumers are becoming more mobile than ever before. Recently, the smartphone penetration in the United States reached more than 50%, and is steadily climbing. As retailers struggle to keep up with the constantly changing environment, how can they reach this mobile customer and create traffic and sales? One of the solutions is to target the customer no matter where they are through mobile marketing. I recently spoke with Igor Glubochansky, executive director of AT&T Mobile Marketing Solutions, to see what is going on in the industry and how AT&T is working directly with retailers.
AT&T has been evolving for years. It wasn’t long ago that AT&T was only associated with landlines and long distance. Then came cellphones, and eventually smartphones and mobile web. Glubochansky said AT&T realized it needed to be more than just a cellphone service provider, “AT&T wants to bring the power of the cloud and mobile solutions together for a specific business process.” Namely retail. Initially, the company focused on applications for employees, providing mobile services like CRM, vehicle tracking, and employee services. After a few years, AT&T and Glubochansky found that “What our customers really wanted was a solution to communicate with their customers.”
With that in mind, AT&T began to map the customer experience throughout the lifecycle — awareness, engagement, purchase, and loyalty. Utilizing this data, the company now is able to create custom applications for the individual retailer’s needs.
Mobile web experiences are becoming more sophisticated as the customer begins to expect more from the applications. For instance, instead of just having a bar code reader to compare pricing, enhanced bar codes and QR codes provide the consumer with access to a multimedia-rich application that includes product, pricing, location, and ratings data as well as coupons.
The messaging the retailer wants to convey needs to utilize the sophisticated abilities within the mobile devices. From AT&T’s perspective, that messaging begins with the application development from its partners. “We hired from within the industry itself to create a team of experts,” Glubochansky said. This team works directly with the retailer to look at business goals, the existing environment, and what level of engagement they are seeking. Part of this can rely on location-based technology to market directly to the consumer. Being able to push location-specific information such as coupons, sales, and loyalty rewards offers retailers unique interactions that were never before possible. The retailer can have access to numerous applications that are specifically geared to the mobile marketing space, such as messages that pop up when you enter the store, targeted coupon messages when you purchase a product, and others. Integrating these different applications , and capturing the data each time a customer uses them, gives the retailer a better view of the customer’s habits and tendencies. Targeting the messaging more specifically, based on this information, has led to increased basket sizes, better conversion rates, increased traffic, and increased loyalty.
“Every retailer along the different verticals must make a conscious decision as to how they want to integrate their messaging with the customer experience,” Glubochansky said. From straight-up advertisements, to fully-immersed multimedia experiences, mobile marketing has just begun to scratch the surface of consumer interaction with the retailers. As mobile devices improve, so must the customer experience.