The key to making sense of mobile is analytics

Unlocking the potential of mobile marketing

By Cameron Dow, Vice President of Marketing, SAS

Ever forget your phone at home and felt lost all day without it? Smartphones are arguably our most personal devices. No other device is with us more. Your phone is with you virtually every second of every day. And that is a dream come true for marketers on a quest to connect with their customers at the right time, in the right place, with the right offer. Mobile devices have a huge potential to help marketers understand and leverage a consumer’s path to purchase. But there is a science to realizing this potential, and the key to making sense of mobile is analytics.

Smartphones are our mobile device du jour, but the Internet of Things is taking mobility to new heights. Think wearables like the Fitbit and automated devices like the Nest thermostat; with new mobile technologies coming to market at a breakneck pace, mobile will mean much more than just smartphones for marketers. Regardless of the device, the key for marketers (aside from keeping up) is how to develop better relationships with customers already barraged by consumer marketing from multiple channels.

According to research by Leger, commissioned by SAS Canada, Canadians are looking to their smartphones to deliver better in-store shopping experiences. Consumers said they would buy more if presented with promotional offers on their phone while shopping. Asked what they would do if they received a promotion on their phone that applied to either the item they were buying or a complimentary product, 38 per cent said they would buy both items, showing the power of mobile in product cross-sell. In addition, 58 per cent said they’d be interested in receiving personalized promotions from nearby stores while shopping, adding credence to location-based marketing offers.

In order to personalize promotions and feed growing consumer expectations for relevant marketing, organizations must analyze large amounts of customer data: point-of-sale transaction data, online clickstream data, social media sentiment, unstructured data from call centre logs and email threads, emerging mobile-based location data, and more.

All this data can overwhelm companies already managing thousands of campaigns per year, and retailers dealing with hundreds of thousands of product SKUs. Then there’s the growth of emerging marketing channels like mobile and social, adding increasing layers of complexity for marketers setting out to monetize their customer information and transform data into a competitive advantage.

It’s a challenge. But the findings paint a positive picture for mobile marketing. It suggests that consumers are open to getting the right offer, at the right time, through their mobile devices. The question is: How do marketers remain personalized and relevant without coming across as creepy or, jeopardizing customer loyalty?

Greater Customer Loyalty:

Done right, personalized promotions can improve customer loyalty. The Leger survey found that 47 percent of smartphone owners said they would be more likely to return to a store that sent personalized promotions to their devices while they shopped. Canadians want more from their shopping experiences, and mobile is ripe to deliver-- 82 per cent of respondents said that it would be helpful to access detailed product or service information on their phones while browsing in the store.

Mobile apps will be also prove to be fruitful for marketers trying to deliver this personalized experience. Online consumers are increasingly unwilling to register for most web sites, limiting marketers’ ability to gain customer insight and deliver promotions through those channels. Popular, value-add mobile apps make registration a requirement to securing the service, making it easier for marketers to learn about the customers. Moreover, apps give marketers an additional source of information to learn about customer behaviour.

In an age where information is the key to relevant marketing, organizations assembling the richest data sources, superior customer analytics, and the ability to act in real-time will have a sustainable competitive edge. Today’s consumer is inundated with options, and powered by smartphones. They can instantly cross-shop, compare features and purchase everything from purses to cars, and navigate from bricks to clicks faster, in many cases, than the companies they do business with. The future of customer loyalty will rest on the marketer who cuts through the clutter and strategically harnesses the power of customer information and analytics to deliver what customers have told us they want: personalized interactions.

Location-based: Hyper-personal marketing

The most revolutionary aspect of mobile technology for marketers is that it makes location-based marketing possible.  This is the holy grail of hyper-personal marketing: The opportunity to connect the right message at the right place at the right time to drive a customer conversion – send them a coupon offer right before they go into the store, or even provide the latest product and service information while they are looking at that same product or service.

For example, a national restaurant chain wants its marketing to not only target a certain demographic at a certain time on a specific day, but it only wants to target a specific geographic location. With location-based marketing, the company can pick a location on a map and draw a circle around it.  If the user fits all the other criteria and walks into that circle, he or she will get an offer from the restaurant chain.

Customer analytics combined with mobile technology can do more than just help a company target customers based on geography. For example, layer walk-time constraints into a campaign to ensure only people who can actually use the offer receive it. Say a customer receives an offer from a restaurant chain, but can’t get there because there is a highway or river in the way. That could sour the relationship with that customer in the future. A built-in a filter that recognizes these constraints--and doesn’t send the customer the offer—doesn’t damage the customer relationship. Location-based advertising has great potential, but many advertisers aren’t quite ready to explore the full potential today. Analytics have long been used for precise targeting, but for mobile technologies, there’s definitely a maturity curve. However, a marketer might have already generated a list of offers an individual is eligible for doing marketing optimization, and is just waiting for some signal that says it’s ready to be served – and a customer on the list popping into the location where the offer is available may be that signal. Under this model, the marketer would run batch analysis to figure out the optimal offers and then wait for a signal to deliver them. Over time, as marketers become more accustomed to mobile marketing, this will evolve into more of a real-time, adaptive learning model where location and content are constantly being re-evaluated to determine what the next best offer should be.

I’ll leave you with these four essential ingredients to unlock the power of mobile marketing:

1.Assemble rich customer information from multiple sources to create a clear view of the customer. Most often that involves things like: the customer’s transaction history (both on and offline), SKU-level basket information, returns, any stated client preferences or online click stream data (to infer preferences and understand things like abandoned carts and impending needs), and mobile app usage, to name a few.

2. Find customer opportunity in data through predictive analytics, employing predictive analytics throughout the marketing process to not only segment customers, and build propensity models, but to recalibrate models and adjust them as new information becomes available, using self-learning models to capitalize on emerging consumer trends and needs.

3. Implement real-time marketing decision engines to execute at the speed of marketing today and take advantage of real-time client insight. Marketers need real-time capability. This is fundamental in the digital age to convert insight into opportunity and deliver real-time offers down to the device. Incorporate smart decision engines into the marketing infrastructure which are flexible and adaptable and can consume the full range of analytical inputs from models, business rules and triggers. Lastly, ensure the solution can also receive real-time information based on important new insight from customers, such as proximity to retail store locations, which may be a trigger for offer execution.

4. Seamlessness: The fewer steps a customer has to take, the easier and more compelling it is to engage, the less distraction there is from customer intent in the process, the better and more sustained the relationship will be. For example, is known for its ability to deliver a personalized shopping experience with a one-click purchase process, which has resulted in customers trusting the site and being more likely to store their credit card information with the company.

About Cameron Dow

Cameron Dow is the Vice President of Marketing for SAS' operations in Canada and Latin America. As head of marketing, Mr. Dow is responsible for growing SAS' market share in targeted industries through the development and execution of the go-to-market strategy. Mr. Dow is also a key contributor to SAS overall global digital marketing strategy.

Prior to his current post, Mr. Dow was the Head of Solutions Marketing, responsible for product and field support strategy in Canada. Prior to SAS, Mr. Dow was a senior analyst at International Data Corporation (IDC) in Toronto where he was responsible for IDC Canada's software market research and related consulting services. In this role he conducted comprehensive, large-scale primary research into key areas of the Canadian IT market, such as application outsourcing, customer relationship management, and application service providers. In addition, he assisted leading software vendors with market planning and sales and marketing strategy.