Flopping on a mobile marketing campaign

May 23, 2012 by Experian Marketing Services

A few weeks ago I was sitting and chatting with a colleague of mine. He mentioned to me that he had just received a text from a major retailer, suggesting that he come in and buy a pair of flip-flops for the summer. Now, one could say that this text was timely, considering that summer is quickly approaching. However, the photo featured in the text was for a pair of lime green flip flops with a big, fat flower on the top. And, this colleague happens to be a rather distinguished 50-something male, with no daughters or granddaughters in his life. He had no interest in a pair of lime-green, flowery flip flops. The retailer had clearly missed the mark.

What’s even more unfortunate is that this colleague is not an anonymous customer paying with cash. He happens to shop at this retailer regularly, using a credit card the majority of the time and he also frequents their website. He expects this retailer to know him: he has provided log-in information including his email address and mobile phone number, and has made purchases online. He loves his cell phone and texting so much that he has opted in to receive text messages from this retailer.

This is a common scenario for retailers because information is usually collected in silos and as a result retailers do not have a solid understanding of their customers’ purchasing behaviors. If the retailer was able to identify my colleague, they could have texted an offering that was relevant to him and his purchasing behaviors. My colleague would have responded much better to a text driving him to the store for the latest fishing equipment or sporting goods items. With a plethora of tools available, marketers can reach their customers through mobile, emails, mailing addresses, online profiles, loyalty programs, social network profiles and more. What hasn’t been readily available is the ability to link these various profiles together, giving marketers a clear understanding of who is buying from them, where they are shopping and how they want to be interacted with.

This retailer has a huge opportunity to connect with customers by providing an engaging and relevant experience through the mobile channel. A mobile strategy is a critical piece of today’s marketing mix. A mobile strategy can enable marketers to drive traffic to stores with text messaging and alerts, and can surprise and delight customers with the right message.

Solutions exist today that enable marketers to identify a customer with a single piece of personally identifiable information (PII). Matching on a mobile phone number alone is difficult, but if you have captured the customer’s name and address, email or simply a zip code during the opt-in process, you can build links across channels to understand how they shop with you and who they are. This cross-channel identity resolution helps marketers avoid blundering when they recognize a customer in one channel, but treat them as they don’t know them in other channels.

Instead of simply trying to sell more of “anything” to a consumer who signs up for mobile, email or social marketing, a retailer should look for opportunities to build an engaging relationship by making shopping with them more convenient and relevant. Is the customer male or female and what are the demographic and psychographic characteristics of his or her household? Does the customer shop in store, online or both? Use the information to build relevant offers so you don’t leave him thinking, “Lime green flip flops with a big pink flower?” Showing the customer you recognize him and how he shops will go a long ways towards building a two-way relationship where he wants to engage with you instead of giving him a reason to quickly search for your opt-out button.

So the next time that this retailer sends out a text to my colleague, I hope it is for a new rod and reel or tackle box. Personally, I would have loved the flowery flip flops… but I didn’t get the text.

For more information about cross-channel identity resolution, download our latest white paper, Crossing the great divide: Resolving customer identities across online and offline channels.