Virgin Mobile looks to online

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Bob Stohrer took helm as CMO in December
Bob Stohrer took helm as CMO in December

Bob Stohrer, promoted last month to replace Howard Handler as CMO of Virgin Mobile USA, is taking the firm in a new direction with a focus on the mobile brand's Web site and PR efforts, as well as the customer experience.

“I'm paying a lot more attention to public relations, art direction and our online business,” said Stohrer. “I see a great opportunity to build the direct and online business through business partner­ships and our site's design.”

Stohrer, who had served as VP of brand and integrated marketing since the company's launch in 2003, is look­ing to expand Virgin's customer base. It has nearly 5 million subscribers to its prepaid phone service, most of whom are age 18 to 34. While its Web site does not currently account for a large number of sales, Stohrer said, half of in-store purchases have begun with a Web site visit for research.

“Because we don't have retail stores, our Web site has to function like one,” Stohrer added. “We're constantly optimizing the Web site based on the paths that custom­ers take and the user experience.”

One new feature will be a push for more content. Virgin customers visit the site to log in their usage one to 10 times a month and Stohrer says that the company plans to take advantage of this traffic by offering new services and serving ads.

“We focus on how to maximize the customer experience once we have the customer,” Stohrer said. “Since we have no contract plans with customers, our service has to be outstanding.”

The new site will also promote busi­ness partnerships. This includes the Sugar Mama co-branded service, which lets sponsors tap into Virgin Mobile's customer base. Stohrer did not say who else the company will be working with, but confirmed that Sugar Mama would be a focus for the brand.

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