Getting started with mobile
With mobile, as with any new technology, it's often wise to start small and grow incrementally, letting the success of one service pave the way for the next. That's why it's important to find a technology partner that offers a full range of services, so you can build your own mobile channel in the most efficient way for your particular business.
No matter where you begin, there are best practices that always apply. Sally Burley, co-founder of The 3rd Degree, a market research and marketing solutions provider, highlights tips to ensure a mobile commerce deployment is successful in her recent article from the 2012 Mobile Commerce Guide, entitled, "Best Practices For Mobile Customer Engagement."
Know your customer. It's imperative to understand who your customers are, what kinds of devices they're using, and what they will want to use mobile for before you begin. Sometimes a smartphone app, such as Starbucks Mobile, is the best way to reach them, but keep in mind that SMS and mobile Web are more widely used across all regions and socio-economic groups.
Make a great first impression. Give customers a good experience when they first engage. Provide a sign-up bonus, discount or offer. Respond quickly. Welcome them to the fold.
This is also the perfect time to gather the basic information that will make all future interactions more meaningful, such as age, location, preferences, etc., and to get their permission to send alerts, notifications and other push communications via mobile.
Keep it simple. Don't make it hard to engage. Leverage existing programmes and existing behaviour patterns in your mobile efforts. Again, Starbucks Mobile is a virtual version of an established loyalty programme. People already get it.
Best case: your mobile programme makes it easier for customers to do what they already do, and also makes it easy and rewarding for them to engage more. Worst case: at the very least, your mobile programme shouldn't make it any harder to do what they already do.
Use positive reinforcement. Reward customers when they buy your product, promote on social media, or recommend to friends. Offer information, discounts or gifts. It's so easy to do with mobile.
Apply the golden rule. The mobile channel gives you instant, anytime, anywhere access to customers, so engage with caution. Treat your customers' mobile devices as you want retailers to treat yours.
Listen. Ask for feedback, gather transaction data, and then put it to use to deliver even better products and services.
Mobile goes both ways
The two-way communication that's possible with mobile means retailers and brands can truly know their customers, and deliver the right message at the right time to the right person. Starbucks might send an offer to the effect of, "Haven't seen you in a while, Mr. Talbot. Come back in for 15 percent off this month's signature drink."
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