Christmas In July? For Marketers Looking To Gain An Edge, Absolutely

By 2015 mobile marketing will nearly double, to become a $55 billion industry. Much of that will be spent around the winter holidays. So analyzing taps and swipes is now a year-round, full-throttle affair.

We’re heading into the seventh month of the year and that means retailers can already imagine the ka-ching! of cash registers, the warehouses full of inventory and the cheery holiday marketing campaigns characteristic of the year’s most profitable season.

While the year-end shopping madness is still months away for consumers, Christmas is already here for retail marketers who are designing decoration and merchandise layout schemes, deciding what gets marked up (and by how much) and choosing their loss leaders. They’re also hard at work planning marketing campaigns for print, radio, television, desktop-based Web and, increasingly, mobile messaging campaigns they hope will entice consumers to spend more than they did last year, which was $579.8 billion in the U.S. alone.

Capitalizing on Christmas, Starting in July

According to recent research from Juniper, retailers are forecast to spend $55 billion on mobile marketing by 2015, almost twice as much as they’re expected to spend this year ($28 billion). Much of that will be spent on year-end marketing extravaganzas. In order to justify that extra spend, retailers need to measure how customers engage with mobile messaging and which messages are driving those customers to purchase leading up to the holidays and beyond.

As mobile devices become ever more entrenched in consumers’ daily lives, they’re increasingly used to:

  • Research product specs and read customer reviews
  • Compare prices
  • Engage with interactive promotions
  • Redeem coupons
  • Make purchases

Retailers need to be analyzing each of these actions. That’s because consumers’ taps and swipes reveal their personal wants and needs as they interact with each of these messages. This is actionable business intelligence that can be used to create mobile messaging that is relevant, timely and far more likely to result in a conversion and sale.
Action Analytics: Gleaning Valuable Business Intelligence from Mobile Customer Interaction

Action analytics looks at deep, real-time granular data including number of messages opened, time since last open and opens resulting in goals such as registrations, purchases or social shares.

Once armed with this valuable information, retailers can create targeted mobile messaging, be it “to-device” like push notifications or “on-device” like in-app alerts that can be A/B split tested. And they can draft multiple versions of a single message and send them to significant samples of their target audiences.

Using action analytics and optimization, retailers can send the message that drove the most conversions in the sample to their whole audience segment. They would then retarget those who didn’t open the message--or opened it without converting--with revised messages featuring a different tone, a more enticing offer or a more urgent call to action.

These techniques can maximize the ROI of mobile messaging during the holiday season by telling retailers which messages are resonating with their customers and enabling them to offer personalized deals and experiences that matter at moments of maximum influence.

Using the Right Tools to Get Mobile Messages Right

Targeting, testing, tracking and retargeting: this is the process retailers can employ to ensure that their mobile messages are relevant and timely. As an example:

Fresh Threadz, a children’s apparel retailer, is looking to drive in-store holiday sales of the Dope Dudz boys’ clothing line through a mobile email campaign. After identifying the audience segment it wants to target (moms with young sons) the retailer creates the message copy and adds some visual design elements.

The retailer then split-tests three versions of the message. When the results come in, it’s clear that the shortest message, which clearly communicates the savings on offer in an adult tone--rather than the kid-friendly tone that one version of the message had--are the ones driving moms to redeem the offer. So it sends the top-performing message to the whole audience segment.

About 40% of those who received the messages went on to purchase some of the Dope Dudz clothing line for their sons. But Fresh Threadz knows it can do even better, because the line has been featured on a popular kid’s TV show and is much in demand among grade-school boys. So it retargets moms who didn’t open the original email or who opened the email but didn’t buy with an extra five percent off redeemable only over the next week.

By retargeting, the retailer manages to boost its campaign’s sales effectiveness by another 15%. It continues to retarget, with each round of messages producing new sales. The campaign’s success means that Fresh Threadz will be split testing and retargeting on campaigns year round.

Mobile Messaging Effectiveness All Year Round

Effective and engaging mobile campaigns are possible for any retailer during the holiday season--as long as the messaging is measured, tested, tracked, retargeted and measured again for an optimal outcome.

Retailers’ competition for consumers’ attention--and their dollars--is at its fiercest during the holidays, and consumers are faced with messages coming from every direction and channel.

By adopting an action analytics plan that includes A/B split testing and multiple rounds of retargeting, retailers can ensure that, in today’s hyper-crowded mobile world, their messages are the ones that get noticed--and acted upon--during the holidays and all year round.

--Brendan O'Kane is the CEO of OtherLevels, a mobile analytics company based in San Francisco, CA and Brisbane, AU. Follow them on Twitter at @otherlevels.

[Image: Flickr user Rudi Riet]

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