Black Friday is still weeks away, but many retailers are already feeling the pressure of the holiday craze—and have been for some time. Mobile, no doubt, is a focus for many of these retailers, but unfortunately, not for all.
“We saw the influx of mobile shoppers last year, and the trajectory has been straight up since then,” notes Pat Dermody, president at Retale, a shopping platform that collects coupons, flyers and other ads and presents them on mobile. “If you don’t have a mobile strategy already done [then] you better get on it.”
There are, of course, several things marketers should consider before, during, and after developing a mobile holiday marketing strategy. Here, Dermody and other experts weigh in on some of the key elements to mobile success during this year’s frantic holiday season.
Put your money where the measurement is.
“Increase your spending in mobile at the expense of channels that are less measurable and less targeted,” Dermody advises. Dermody explains that pull messaging—or any content sent to a wireless subscriber whey they request—drives contemporary retail, compared to push strategies, which is a transaction that’s initiated by the publisher, in this case marketers. Dermody says that consumers who search and shop on mobile could very well be in the buying mood. “Retailers need to spend into that [mood], and take advantage of all of those opportunities,” she says.
Focus on slower selling stock.
Inventory can be unpredictable during the holidays as shoppers scramble to scoop deals from wherever they can find them. Retailers may find mobile’s inherent strength in promoting newly available or overstocked items. “Media and print campaigns are typically produced weeks or months ahead of the holiday shopping season, but mobile messaging plans can change daily based on actual sales,” says Scollay Petry, VP of strategic services at mobile marketing technology company OtherLevels. “Use mobile marketing to focus communications and messages on these slow-moving items.”
Consider weather alerts.
Weather woes killed a good chunk of the joy of holiday shopping last year. Retailers may wish to keep their customers informed of inclimate weather’s effects on store hours.
“Do your customers a favor and alert them to developing weather conditions, an early store opening or closing, or the fact that the store isn’t open at all out of concern for shoppers’ safety,” Petry says.
Open it up.
Keeping customers in a single digital environment for any length of time will likely get much harder, if not outright impossible as digital culture matures. Success in the fragmented mobile space will likely come to marketers who understand and accommodate users as they navigate today’s digital metropolis. “Customers are all over, so don’t try to contain [them] to your mobile site,” Retale’s Dermody says.
Make Cyber Monday, Mobile Monday.
If online holiday sales in 2013 were any indication, Cyber Monday will likely be even more of a force this season. Retailers will probably be the best opportunity this year to get customers to take action on mobile offers. “Ride the Cyber Monday wave by creating mobile-only specials for that day,” Petry says. “Focus on orders placed via the mobile app, for example, or offer a special mobile discount that can be redeemed and tracked in-store.”
Don’t skimp on testing.
The holiday rush may tempt some marketers to push mobile applications or content before it’s been adequately tested. This is always mistake—any time of the year, and it’s a great way to become the subject of an unflattering hashtag. But the stakes are even higher during holiday season.
“Don’t make the holidays even more frantic because of glitches, bugs or errors. It’s challenging enough to create responsive websites that work well on all mobile devices,” says Dave Wentker, CEO at mobile marketing services company Tapcentive. “Mobile applications present additional challenges, and the integration of in-location NFC and beacon technologies can significantly increase the technical and executional complexities of mobile marketing and mobile apps.”
Make it fun.
Marketers should keep in mind that the coming weeks are what many consider the best time of the year. Though some degree of headache may be unavoidable, retailers should ensure that the shopping experience adds to shoppers’ enjoyable holiday experience. “Create holiday campaigns that are fun, exciting and surprising—because everyone’s already in a festive mood,” Wentker explains. “Adopt mobile marketing campaigns that make shopping fun again, instead of a chore, and give people a reason to come to the mall—or the store—and really experience the location, not just shop in it. Customers will engage with great content, so make it entertaining and of course, holiday-appropriate.”