Mobile: Making better connections

A mobile strategy is a tricky call, trying to avoid being intrusive while endeavouring to leverage business results for brands.


The panlel (l-r above):

Branwell Johnson, acting editor, Marketing Week (chair)
Rob Little, head of managed CRM, BT Expedite
James Hanscomb, insight director, Weve
Namita Khosla, marketing manager, Unilever (Walls)
Emma Woods, marketing director, Pizza Express
Stuart Hiscott, marketing manager, Ardo UK
Mike Turner, principal consultant, SAS
William May, marketing manager, Ford Racing
Chris Gobby, head of mData, EE

In association with SAS

Marketing Week (MW): According to the Chief Marketing Officer council, only 16 per cent of marketers have a mobile strategy. What is a mobile strategy and where are you on that journey?

Rob Little (RL): That fact doesn’t surprise me. Many of BT Expedite’s customers still struggle with some of the basics of what we’d consider classic CRM direct marketing. We’re trying to show them how to get real value from this new mobile channel and the wealth of data that they can obtain from it. It’s about starting reasonably small and doing something meaningful that will translate data into action.

Namita Khosla (NK): We’ve started with pilots because we’ve not explored this as a specific channel strategy as yet. We’re learning and expanding, and trying to share best practices, but we still have a long way to go. We’re trying to structure our teams so we have an ‘always on’ approach with mobile. We’ve seen some fantastic results in the small things we’ve done so we understand this is going to be massive for us.

Emma Woods (EW): Pizza Express customers have helped us develop a strong digital strategy, of which mobile is becoming an important part. We don’t necessarily see mobile as different, it’s just a channel in the mix. If you ask if we have a mobile strategy I’d say no, we prioritise having a digital strategy.

Stuart Hiscott (SH): Being a business-to-business company we create opportunities with our customers to use their marketing tools to get the message out. Mobile is overtaking digital usage on the internet, but one is not exclusive from the other.

James Hanscomb (JH): There’s a subtle difference between digital and mobile, but it doesn’t mean you need a different strategy. Being on people’s phones is about as personal as you can get and you need to consider the dynamics of how you interact.

Mike Turner (MT): From a SAS perspective it’s an interesting challenge. We see it more as a transition from what’s traditionally been a CRM-type challenge to bring CRM practices into a marketing world. The personal nature of the channel requires us to respect it and use it carefully. It gives us the chance to engage in conversational marketing with end-customers.

Chris Gobby (CG): The thing about mobile is there isn’t a set strategy. People are still exploring how to use Twitter and Facebook. The challenge is how best to reach your customer.

William May (WM): At Ford the whole mobile strategy is a work in progress because lots of things have been done in the past three or four years, but it’s now about how we bring that together in a way that’s relevant to consumers, both in-car and from a consumer journey point of view.

MW: What are the key patterns in the customer’s mobile journey for brands?

EW: We pioneered putting WiFi into our restaurants about two years ago. It was a difficult decision. As a restaurant chain, you hope you’re promoting people’s conversations with each other as opposed to with their mobile phones. But because we’re a venue where diners are often going on somewhere else or arranging things we put it in. WiFi also underpins our app where customers can make purchase decisions. A tenth of our customers go onto the WiFi. They are in Pizza Express for about an hour, 35 minutes of which they are on their phone.

RL: People will start to target relevant messages to individuals based on their transactional history, but also what they’ve indicated in the past. The tricky bit is making sure you’ve got that analysis and content in place.

CG: We’re measuring what people are doing when out and about, and we see a huge number of people using their mobiles to shop around. Between 20 and 30 per cent of people in shopping centres are using their mobiles. Fifteen per cent are using commerce-based sites or price-checking. Online versus offline is very interesting for retail.

MW: What fresh approaches does mobile allow?

WM: In the World Rally Championship we knew from the data that there were people we could class as rally fans or rally followers [and we thought about] how we engage them and make them feel good about Ford. We used an app that was free to download and gave fans real-time information. Produced by a journalist, it was independent, so we had to accept it wasn’t going to just tell positive stories about Ford, but it really engaged people in terms of downloads: there have been more than 600,000 in three years and 24 million video views.

There’s still work to be done in terms of what more we can provide to those consumers regarding the cars they can buy. The call to action is the next step.

MW: Is the call to action important?

NK: We’re always trying to get consumers to pick up an ice cream on impulse in the summer. Being out and about is relevant to us, not just in customers’ homes. That’s where mobile plays an important role. We had a very simple call to action during the Olympics: ‘Fancy an ice cream?’ The message didn’t even need to include ‘buy it now’.

The combination of timeliness, location and appropriate messaging got Walls the highest click-through rate O2 has ever seen. Doing something simple like that doesn’t have to be super-creative. Relevance in terms of when, where and weather really helped.

SH: Micro-targeting is a valid point. We didn’t have a digital strategy and I constantly have to argue the case for that being what we have to concentrate on. You can do samples before you spend big money.

MW: How far can you go with customer information before you become intrusive rather than adding value?

RL: I’m always astonished at how much personal data customers are willing to hand over. Once they start to trust you they will part with huge amounts of information. They trust you to use it appropriately and are a little offended if you don’t use it.

JH: As part of our development we spoke to the Information Commissioner’s Office and it was very hot on transparency. If you look at the kicking Google and Facebook have taken in the past six months it’s not because they’re collecting data they’re not using, it’s about transparency.

RL: In the past, once our customers got hold of data they were protective of it. Now it’s all opened up. They try to make it as visible to customers as possible because they can correct it if it’s out of date.

EW: The old rules apply: you have to be on the customer’s side. You’ve got all this data, customers trust you and it’s about doing something for them. We’ve got birthday data we didn’t use for a long time. But then we started sending creative messages with the name written in flour and gave them our most generous offer for a two-week period. We’ve seen huge take-up.

SH: Quite often people will just click something because what’s on offer is more important than the data implications. There’s a sense of paranoia around sharing on social media, but at the same time these people are using Facebook.

CG: It comes back to location and real-time data. Getting those things relevant pushes it more towards people being happy to receive it. And you have to take into account what they’re sending back to you. Often they’ll be communicating on the basis of messages you’ve sent and you have to respond personally. The way brands are reactive on Twitter, for example, is what you need for mobile.

SH: That’s resource-intensive though.

CG: Exactly. We’ve got a room full of people responding to Twitter, Facebook and text messages. If you don’t do it, it only takes one person to go on Facebook and blast your brand.

MW: What does the world of mobile have to improve to get you to invest more?

NK: The difficult part is seeing the sale. The challenge for us is that we don’t have the network of scannable mobile applications to understand how much has gone through to purchase. That’s a barrier for us to investigate behind the scenes.

EW: There is a danger in moving from marketing that’s all about heart to marketing that’s all about head. We did a piece of activity where we put a fresh advert on Cloud WiFi as people came through train stations. I went into it thinking no-one was going to look – if you’re coming through Marylebone or Victoria you’re usually running to avoid people. We got two million impressions. We didn’t link it to an offer or a booking so it’s difficult to say ‘let’s do that again’. It’s trial and error.

SH: You can make wild assumptions that if online makes up 50 per cent of your sales the same increase happened in-store, but that’s theory. There’s nothing to substantiate the numbers.

WM: The automotive industry is not really understanding how to use it most effectively. AppLink is getting there, where you can access Spotify and various other applications through voice commands in your car. But that’s just one element. You’ve then got other ways of engaging through these communications.

MW: What client problems are providers being asked to solve?

CG: The big area for us is to see where mobile fits in the customer journey. From the mass of data available, usually a couple of simple things come out. We want the marketing manager to be able to say these are the things that I can now monitor.

JH: Mobile measurement is critical. In the R&D space no-one looks too closely to see what the measurement is – it may be a click-through or a sale. When you start getting into using it as a more strategic tool you start using bigger budgets and get more scrutiny. Then you need better, common metrics.

MW: Are consumers comfortable with buying via mobile?

RL: In-store there’s less need for the customer to use their own mobile device to pay because they’re in a secure environment. We see them use their mobiles to look up stock and, if it’s not there, arrange for it to be delivered.

NK: We haven’t yet got to the place yet where we’re all using one [mobile payment] system. If we were, people would be educated and start using it, but it’s too fragmented now.

EW: We have an app where people can get their bill in-store and pay via PayPal. They just wave to the waiter to say they’ve done so and leave. We’ve been surprised at the number who are comfortable doing that. Some retailers are investing in digital and the transactional experience, and smaller brands may get left behind. That worries me, because you’ll get customers saying ‘This is a poor experience’.

MW: What will push the transactional experience forward for customers?

MT: Unification. The banks have realised they can’t work independently and come up with umpteen solutions. They’re not asking what works best for customers. There are a lot of moving parts to this problem that have to come together to make it easy for these guys to offer services to consumers. Then they will become engaged.

JH: We’re all carrying around little bits of plastic that work pretty well. I know wherever I am if I see a Visa or Mastercard sign I can get a bit of plastic out and it’s easy. We’ve got to get something that’s better than that with mobile.

SH: Favourites lists on mobiles are a blessing and a curse for grocers. Consumers can just press a button and the shopping’s done, but the opportunity for interaction is limited. They are meeting a customer need while shooting themselves in the foot.

MT: For high-value or emotional purchases such as holidays you can’t disengage. It can’t be a payment mechanism – there’s got to be creativity and engagement. It’s about the profile of the customer. There are audiences that will expect mobile to do everything for them because they’ve grown up with it.

MW: Mobile is a channel, but only one of many. How do you integrate it into the overall strategy?

NK: In Turkey we had a football game going on for 15 days. For two hours in the evening we used a projection on a wall where people could type a number into a mobile game where they had to get three Cornettos in 35 seconds. If you won you’d receive a coupon to go to the bar next door. Not only did we have PR opportunities there because we had journalists watching, we had outdoor [media] and also the mobile component.

EW: You’ve got to be clear on the role of each channel. Facebook is our ‘backstage pass’. We assume that if you’re on our Facebook you are genuinely engaged in the brand. We want to give you information, but we don’t want to use it as an offer channel. Twitter is a feedback channel. Customers respond on Twitter and you need to answer them.

Up to now, mobile has been about customer experience, with WiFi in restaurants. Then we have a strong email CRM programme where people have opted to be on our database and we send them offers. Where do we want to be? It’s related to where the customer is going to be.

CG: Mobile is a default channel, so even if you’re not building something people will go to it. Having a strategy for every piece of your media is tricky. Pushing it to a default such as Facebook simplifies it because social media takes care of cross-platform needs.

SH: To a degree you give up your control to a third party such as Facebook. Marketers lose some opportunity for customisation.

WM: You’re basically a squatter on those sites. But you realise that this will get you across formats, mobile or tablet, without having to think too deeply about it.

JH: Mobile works better with other media. The clues are in the features of the smartphone. You can show video and TV is a natural link. You can do location campaigns so outdoor is a natural fit. Can you do a pan-media campaign? Adding another level is going to be tricky.

MW: What will happen in an ideal world using mobile to enhance consumers’ lives?

MT: It’s interesting how quickly mobile banking took off in Africa. I’d have put money on that never working, but people are crying out for mechanisms to help them manage their money because they don’t have the high street banks we have.

NK: We think of mobile in terms of reach because our strength is developing markets. We will be able to use mobiles as a platform in terms of reach when they become affordable to everyone in Asia and Africa.

MT: Augmented reality still has a place. Wrigley’s gum faded from view and it looked at how to appeal to younger generation. It created an AR app for phones: point it at the gum and it triggers games. Sales shot through the roof. Equally, supermarkets in the US are thinking about using it to promote ethically-sourced products – pointing the phone at the chicken tells you how it was sourced.

SH: We have automated information delivered via sat nav on harvesting machines to ensure our business is efficient. These systems are integrated to the point where they come into our packing warehouse and the information goes no further. If there was an opportunity to automate that to the consumer message we could show consumers every step in the journey. We have the technology to be efficient as a business tool, but we’re not using it as a marketing tool.



Marketing budgets up and confidence rises

Russell Parsons

Marketing budgets for the coming financial year have been set at the highest level for more than two years as marketers bank on increased activity to grow sales in the still subdued UK economy, according to the latest Bellwether report.


    Leave a comment