Taking action: Converting mobile users into loyal customers

March 3, 2014

By Ronald Herman,
CEO, Sionic Mobile

"Epic," "monumental", "radical", "unnerving." These are just a few of the headlines describing Facebook’s unprecedented $19 billion acquisition of mobile messaging provider, WhatsApp. Facebook’s announcement stunned and surprised the market, sparking debate on the risks versus rewards of such a bold move. Despite the mixed opinions on Facebook’s latest venture, this type of announcement is yet another indicator of how critical the mobile channel is to Facebook’s future success. This statement holds true for nearly every consumer-facing merchant, including quick service and fast casual restaurants.

Consumers are increasingly reliant on their smartphones, and according to Experian, have more than tripled the amount of time spent on their mobile device since 2011 alone. Researchers have indicated 2014 will be the tipping point for mobile usage as the number of mobile users starts to surpass the number of traditional PC users.

Actively engaging customers via the mobile channel is not the same as simply being mobile friendly. Forward-thinking restaurants are leveraging mobile to drive foot traffic, attract and retain customers and boost revenue. Take for example, Starbucks. More than 10 million customers are actively using the coffee chain’s mobile app to complete more than 5 million mobile transactions in stores each week, and this

Ronald Herman

number continues to grow at an alarming rate.

Developing an effective mobile marketing program can seem daunting. The following strategies are designed to help optimize any mobile marketing program, converting on-the-go consumers to loyal, repeat customers.

Understand your audience

Mobile is all about immediacy. In the age of instant gratification, consumers’ attention spans are limited. With more and more marketers vying for this limited attention, delivering a clear, concise message is critical to ensuring your message cuts through the clutter, reaching the intended mobile users. Delivering the right message, at the right time, to the right user sounds simple, but is one of the most pressing challenges hindering the success of mobile marketing campaigns.

For restaurants, taking time to better understand your audience, how and when users view your mobile content, tracking behavioral patterns and page flow data can significantly bolster the effectiveness of your mobile strategy. Determining how many of your current customers access your website via a mobile device is a good starting point in creating an audience profile. Additional analysis of user activity, such as the type of content being accessed, length of time spent on different topics and pages, and the type of device used to access content (tablet vs. smartphone) can all be used to create more compelling, relevant content.

Converting users to customers

Effective mobile marketing hinges on the ability to motivate users to actually interact with your brand. Providing relevant incentives that users can act on immediately is one of the most powerful strategies marketers can leverage to turn mobile users into customers. Delivering offers such as discounts, free products and special promotions should be timed so that users can instantly take advantage of the savings. Keep in mind offers should be easy to understand, and easy to redeem. For every additional click required to complete the promotion, you run the risk of losing more than half your audience.

Conversion rates of incentive-based offers significantly increase when coupled with location-based tools. A recent report from Verve Mobile found that restaurants that incorporated location-based components into their mobile marketing efforts nearly doubled their click-through rates as compared to previous campaigns that did not use location tools. Location-based marketing allows restaurants to not only increase mobile ad impressions, but also drive foot traffic and boost in-store sales.

Next steps

Finally, restaurants must be willing to give up control, allowing mobile users to control the interaction. Although this can be counterintuitive to traditional marketing strategies, giving customers the ability to select how and when they receive updates, the types of promotions and offers they wish to receive and the frequency of the messages received increases conversion rates and builds long-term brand loyalty. Receiving multiple offers for irrelevant products or services can be as crippling to mobile marketing efforts, as ignoring the channel altogether.

Well-rounded mobile marketing strategies marry compelling content and relevant/timely promotions with location-based tools in an environment controlled by the user. In an increasingly competitive market, mobile marketing is no longer optional. Chances are, if you aren’t connecting with your customers via the mobile channel, your competitors are, and business is being lost. The time to act is now.

Ronald D. Herman is founder and chief executive officer of Sionic Mobile, a mCommerce company that utilizesmobile devices and the cloud to connect merchants with nearby, ready-to-spend consumers.

 


Topics: Online / Mobile / Social


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