Mobile Marketing Is on the Move

Capitalizing on 2012’s success, mobile commerce is finally reaching its stride and all signs point to 2013 as a banner year for mobile.

Data shows that more and more consumers shop and buy through their mobile devices. In fact, a quick recap of 2012 shows that online shopping reached an all-time high during the 2012 holiday season, with 30 percent growth on cyber Monday alone. Sales soared and consumers flocked to their tablets, smartphones, and other mobile devices to make purchases.

What this also asserts is that marketers, eCommerce executives, and retailers must examine the customer experience and eliminate customer pain points that block successful conversions for the retailer. If a customer voices issues with mobile transactions, retailers must identify the issue and why it causes customers to react negatively. Then they must resolve the issue immediately.

Sky Bet, one of the UK’s leading betting companies, did just that. With a third of Sky Bet transactions being placed through a mobile device, the company decided to invest in developing a mobile specific website, as well as mobile applications for IOS and Android devices. After the launch of the new iPhone app, Sky Bet discovered it was receiving a number of negative reviews in the Apple app store. Customer comments pointed to problems registering new accounts through the app.

Sky Bet analyzed its customer’s mobile experience and were able to detect error messages when certain customers tried to register.  With these insights, Sky Bet was able to identify how many customers had been affected, quantify the business impact, and take steps to rectify the problem. This examination of the customer experience revealed that several hundred customers every single day were unable to register a new account on the Sky Bet iPhone app. By taking the time to analyze and improve the customer experience, Sky Bet avoided putting its revenue at risk.

The mobile opportunity

Other companies can improve their mobile experiences, as well, if they understand their customers’ mobile expectations. While we all know mobile shopping was a huge success in the 2012 season in terms of actual dollar figures, the real question is, what exactly did customers think and say about the mobile buying experience?

According to the IBM Social Sentiment Index, which assessed customer sentiment during the 2012 shopping season, consumers were excited about shopping at the swipe of a finger, with more than 63 percent of customers talking about mobile shopping as of Black Friday throughout the month of December, when referencing a mobile retail website or mobile application. And the conversation was very favorable, with positive sentiment about mobile shopping three times that of the negative. This is a significant trend when we consider the impact consumer chatter on social networks can have on the overall brand.

What else were customers happy about when it came to mobile shopping? Customers were on the hunt for deals, and the ability to price compare within applications led the way, with more than 52 percent of customers reacting positively to the ability to price compare within a mobile application. Mobile coupons added to this consumer satisfaction, with positive consumer sentiment six times that of the negative.

And while this is all great news, retailers cannot stop looking for ways to improve in 2013. Consider the following: While more than 63 percent of customers were talking about mobile shopping, an astounding 50 percent discussed actually transacting through their mobile device. Of these, 21 percent had positive sentiment toward in-app transactions, while 9 percent expressed negative sentiment. What this means is that for every two positive comments, there was one person who had something negative to share about their experience.

In addition to transactions, consumers also weren’t shy about expressing their concern with application problems. Of those consumers who had an issue buying through a mobile application, 43 percent walked away with a negative perception of the app due to the poor experience they encountered. Application design also had challenges. While 45 percent of consumers who discussed application design reacted positively, 11 percent had a negative perception.

Now why is this data important? Well, every retailer should be aiming for perfection when it comes to the customer experience and this insight, while for the most part positive, also leaves retailers with room for improvement in 2013. Retailers and marketers need to enhance the mobile buying experience for customers by removing the pain points that may have caused shoppers to have a negative experience.

2012 was clearly a breakout year for mobile shopping. But there’s still plenty of room to improve this year, especially regarding usability and the customer experience. If we can make these improvements and recognize consumer struggles, I suspect we’ll be seeing record levels of mobile shopping again next holiday season.

Geoff Galat is VP of enterprise marketing at IBM Smarter Commerce.

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