Comment: Use mobile marketing to drive customers in-store

Over 50% of the adult population now have a smartphone or tablet and over half of these are using these devices to access retailer's web sites. Click & collect is being adopted by many retailers as a way of driving internet shoppers into stores. Even the pure-play web-based retailers are dabbling with a bricks and mortar presence so what is it going to take to get the UK high streets busy again?

In order to deliver really effective personalised B2C marketing you need to have a good CRM database. Outside of the big food retailers not many UK retailers have an effective CRM database.

Those that collect data in one channel often don't have the ability to share that data across their other channels. This also means that promotional offers are often limited to individual channels.

For most retailers CRM is pretty high up the wish list but never seems to make it through the capital approval process. Without this important enabler most retailers seem to be targeting their mobile marketing spend via social media, prominently Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. This marketing is OK for mass distribution but does nothing to address personalised promotions or build long term customer loyalty.

There are many approaches that could be effectively used to drive personalised marketing via consumer mobile devices:

One other area that I think has massive potential but is vastly under-utilised is the use of QR codes. Most retailers spend vast amounts of money producing high quality product promotional and data content for their websites and advertising. This data could be leveraged to a greater extent through the use of QR codes in window displays, shelf edge labelling and on product tags. These inexpensive codes can provide access to rich product information ideally suited to mobile shoppers that would simply be re-using marketing investment already sunk.

Between me, my wife and two left home daughters I would think we are fairly representative of the 'average new age shopper'. We do the majority of our shopping online with products delivered to home or collected in store. We shop across pretty much every segment of retail and are enrolled in many loyalty schemes and always provide our address and telephone numbers to all retailers.

In preparing to write this piece I reviewed what marketing activity we receive between us and surprisingly the majority of personal marketing activity (excluding social media 'like' delivered content) is received via email. SMS marketing is generally directed at me and is predominantly made up of massed SMS spam trying to sell us redress for accidents or insurance policies that I have not been involved with! Neither my wife nor daughters receive any text-based marketing.

So are we an exception to the norm or is mobile marketing really not working?

This is definitely an opportunity missed. SMS is more immediate than email and is probably more eagerly read. Retailers need to be careful that mobile marketing does not turn in to spam overload in the same it has via email. However, if there is something in it for the consumer, such as targeted meaningful discounts/promotions from retailers and channels that they are happy to sign up to, then the opportunity to drive personalised promotions is definitely there.

Over 85% of all retail transactions still happen in stores so it makes sense to expend more investment in driving consumers into stores. With so much focus on mobile as a route to market it is surprising how little of the marketing spend is directed at mobile for targeted messaging as opposed to relying on email.

Retailers also need to improve the journey for the consumer once they have them in the store. Making the shopping experience an enjoyable and rewarding one once they are there is an area where mobile within the store can play a massive role.

Paul Mason Consulting's Huw Thomas is a regular columnist for Essential Retail, and you can read his views on mCommerce every month.