Exploring the Mobile Platform Doesn't End With an App

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Exploring the Mobile Platform Doesn't End With an App

By Chelsea Regan, Convenience Store News - 06/28/2017

JERSEY CITY, N.J. — When brands think about developing a mobile strategy, the first thing that tends to come to mind is a mobile app. However, apps are only one aspect to consider for a successful mobile strategy.

Convenience Store News Editorial Director Don Longo recently hosted a webinar titled "Exploring the Mobile Platform: Using Mobile to Elevate 1-to-1 Marketing" with Kimberly Otocki, content marketing specialist at Paytronix, who offered insight on how retailers can make the most of their mobile strategies.

To put things in perspective, Otocki kicked off with some statistics gathered from the Pew Research Center to give a window into the mobile space retailers are working with. According to the data, 72 percent of U.S. adults have smartphones, and they spend 2.8 hours per day on average on their mobile devices — 51 percent of their total digital media time.

This might seem encouraging, but exactly where that time is spent is less so. Eighty percent of the 2.8 hours a smartphone user spends on his or her phone is spent using just five apps — including native apps like Safari and Messages. Otocki said brands should be asking themselves,"What is the likelihood that my app is one of those five?" 

Aspects of a successful mobile strategy to consider include: 


Otocki suggests that brands turn to the Loyalty Impact Model: the higher the enrollment number, the more customers will become active in your program.

"These are the customers coming into your store, taking advantage of your program, whether it's using your club programs, taking advantage of a promotion you put out there, using your mobile app, or using points," she explained. 

Enrolled customers, according to Otocki, yield the biggest potential for loyal customers who make frequent store visits. In order to reap the most benefits from active customers, it is key to keep them in the know, she pointed out.

"First and foremost in a loyalty program, it's absolutely crucial that your customers know where they stand: how many points they have, when they'll receive their next reward, how much more they need to do to get their reward, and when they're eligible to redeem it," she said. "The closer a customer gets to earning their rewards, the more frequently they're going to come into the store."

If a customer has no idea where they stand in a retailer's program, they'll have a hard time motivating themselves to come in to make more purchases, Otocki added, noting that mobile apps provide an easy way for customers to check their status.


In addition to bolstering the number of customers enrolled and using loyalty programs, retailers can commit to a mobile strategy without a mobile app by ensuring website responsiveness. It's essential that a website can be accessed and look good across mobile platforms, according to Otocki, who also notes that it's just as important that emails be responsive. Most people check emails on their phones, and 54 percent of all emails are opened on mobile, she revealed.


It's impossible to talk about a mobile strategy these days without mentioning social media. Social media provides the largest word-of-mouth opportunity, where a brand's most loyal customers can share content and function as cheerleaders of its services. Social media also gives curious potential customers a chance to get to know a brand better, paving the way for new visitors who could turn into future loyalty members.


Deploying surveys is one way that retailers can get to know the customers frequenting their stores. According to Otocki, it's a great method for collecting data, as a survey can be deployed right after a transaction goes through. It opens up the possibility of upsells while also gauging interest in potential new products.


Because a significant number of U.S. adults are without a smartphone, Otocki urges retailers to consider other methods of connecting with them, including SMS messaging. Using SMS, retailers can directly contact the vast majority of their customers to tell them about new offers, promotions, their loyalty member status, and even send them a code to redeem in-store.


For those customers with smartphones, a great way to contact them directly is with push notifications, according to Otocki. Perhaps the biggest benefit of using push notifications to alert customers of new offers and promotions is that the notifications pop up on customers' screens and can be read without unlocking the phone. These notifications can also be directed to specific groups of customers.


To reach even more targeted groups of customers, retailers with a mobile app can use geofencing, reaching out to customers within a certain radius of a store. As an example, Otocki said a retailer with a mobile app and using geofencing could push a notification out to nearby customers that reads, "You're so close, come in for your morning coffee." The hope is that the customer will eventually make getting his or her morning coffee at your store part of the regular routine without the push.


Otocki advises retailers to implement new technology to make purchases quicker using API integration. With mobile payment booming, more and more customers are eager to pay through a mobile app, which can be linked to a loyalty program. Enabling ordering and payment ahead and online is another way for retailers to reduce friction and time-spent, and increase the convenience factor of shopping in their store.

Mobile Strategies in Action

At the conclusion of the "Exploring the Mobile Platform" webinar, Otocki shared examples from two separate retailers who experienced an uptick in mobile engagement and business as a result of their innovative mobile strategies.

First, Otocki highlighted Sprinkles Cupcakes, a millennial-focused brand that was trying to figure out how to increase both their frequency customers and their quantity customers. In the end, the company opted to move forward with a cardless loyalty program. In six months, the retailer, with only 20 locations, had enrolled 260,000 members — only 18,000 from a mobile app.

Otocki also shared the success story of California Tortilla. While the retailer had embraced a mobile strategy some time ago, it didn't launch a mobile app until September 2015. The initial business boom was significant, but was followed by stagnation. In an effort to raise enthusiasm again, the brand ran a promotion that gave customers a chance to win free food if they checked into the store. This resulted in a 107-percent increase in app downloads.

A replay of "Exploring the Mobile Platform: Using Mobile to Elevate 1 to 1 Marketing" is available here