3 Ways to Segment Mobile Customers
With 90 percent of Americans using cell phones, many marketers may not be surprised that studies are emerging showing that mobile customers convert at significantly higher rates than online consumers—even when viewing the same offer. The device that's often with them all day is a perfect one-on-one marketing opportunity. Now all marketers have to do is figure out exactly who's holding the phone.
Here with some answers about how to segment and target consumers through mobile marketing are Rodney Mason, chief marketing officer of St. Louis-based digital, branding and promotion agency Moosylvania; and Matt Whitney, co-founder, president and CEO of Houston-based mobile marketing agency WHAMmobile.
1. Understand mobile consumers' behavior. "Figuring out how people use their phones may be just as important as demographics such as age, gender and income," Whitney says. "Creating a marketing campaign for a 30-year-old, tech-savvy male with an iPhone will look a lot different than a campaign for a 50-something with no data plan. Understanding how your target demographic uses their mobile device will help you create an effective mobile marketing campaign."
Practicing what he preaches, Whitney's agency applied this tip to work it did for Chicago-based real estate services firm Jones Lang LaSalle, which manages malls. "WHAMmobile developed a mobile sweepstakes program with numerous special features including mobile alerts, online shopping profiles, trackable coupons and more," Whitney says. Consumers learned of the sweepstakes offers at the malls and received login codes via text message "so they could go online and set preferences to receive ongoing communication with retailers. Participating retailers included Macy's, Victoria's Secret, LensCrafters, The Buckle, Hallmark, Bath & Body Works, American Eagle Outfitters, Sears, The Gap and over 50 others," Whitney says. During the 2008 holiday season, four days of text promos to more than 6,000 mobile devices saw 2,000 opt-ins; back-to-school 2009 saw 1,000 opt-ins after more than 6,000 cells got text promos. This holiday season's sweepstakes offer is in the works.
2. Geotarget. Mason points out that what's more prevalent in Europe, opt-in Bluetooth marketing that allows those who've requested promotions and offers from certain retailers to hear the calls to action when they're near the retailers, may soon become more prevalent in the United States. Also, cell phones will behave more like credit cards. So those who walk into stores and hear Bluetooth marketing messages can find the merchandise, pay for it with their phones and walk out. (Some existing U.S. services, such as Mocapay of Denver already facilitate mobile payments at selected retailers.)
Meanwhile, in pre-"Mission: Impossible" America, Mason says many Web-enabled mobile users are finding deals based on location and price and using, for instance, coupons from Hardee's in St. Louis for a buy-one-get-one-free "Little Thickburger." (That deal, found on a Friday, expired on the following Monday.)
Even without having Internet access, mobile consumers can be segmented based on location using common sense. Whitney's agency is paying attention to consumers' area codes as differentiators in a tourism marketing campaign for Arlington, Texas. Trying to appeal to residents of Dallas/Ft. Worth, Houston, Oklahoma City, West Texas and Arkansas, WHAMmobile built a call to action that was different for each location. "Additionally, to secure the opt-ins, city-specific advertisements were created with a unique opt-in keyword for each," Whitney says. "These customized opt-in codes allowed for customized messages for each city."
3. Piggyback on other brands' work. First, work on building an organic list, Mason says. If marketers don't have that kind of patience, there's another option. "Another way to acquire names and reach customers is through partners that you have synergies with," Mason says, citing an example. "There are major retailers like Safeway and Kroger who are doing an exceptional job on mobile, and they have their customers attuned and looking for their messages. And their partners, being consumer packaged good companies, perfectly complement those initiatives."
At the same time, if a partner with complementary customers is stingy with its data, marketers can build what Mason calls "look-alike models." Hopefully, "you at least have the ability to look at that data [and] see those patterns and those customers."
In other words, marketers can look at how the consumers behave and, for instance, build an opt-in program based on that marketing partner's data. If the partner's information shows a consumer segment has a propensity to opt in to mobile marketing after receiving a direct mail offer, the marketer can pursue that route and buy lists to append physical addresses to the database. If a particular demographic is more apt to respond to a DRTV spot, the marketer can take that tack.