By Ashley Kemper
Mobile and tablet channels have opened powerful new ways of reaching and engaging target audiences. Global mobile ad revenue nearly doubled in 2013 and U.S. mobile advertising spending is projected to increase by 75% in 2014. While integrating new tech presents exciting opportunities, it also poses challenges and potential pitfalls that call for the following best practices to engage target audiences.
Location-based marketing: The magic of location-based technology is that it enables marketers to reach audiences at the precise time and place they’ll most likely respond. Using location-based data, retailers can deliver incentives—coupons, discounts and other special offers—directly to consumers already in the area, enticing them to stop in. Leverage data from user devices to narrow the pool of consumers most likely to be interested in your message, then offer them something of real value to seal the deal.
- Preempt typical user questions by offering answers before they think to ask. For example, at this year’s US Open tennis tournament, attendees using the tournament app received the day’s schedule—along with current scores and live video from matches in progress—right as they entered the gates so they could understand what was happening before they took their seats.
- Leverage location-based data generated over time to identify consumers who are frequent or regular visitors to an area because an offer may remain relevant even if a user doesn’t have time to act on the offer right away. Recently, Taco Bell gave consumers an option to trigger a 2 p.m. calendar reminder to take advantage of a happy hour promotion.
- Make it convenient for your target to respond. The more you ask users to go out of their way, the weaker the promotional pull. Offering a $1 off coupon to customers who live more than five miles away from your location is not likely to seem worth the effort. But offering the same coupon only to regular customers who visit every week will have a high rate of redemption.
- Resist mentioning a person’s location in your offering to keep the focus on the offering’s content rather than the mechanism for finding that person.
QR codes: Don’t make consumers struggle to get the payoff. Millions of consumers are enticed and subsequently disappointed by flashy but poorly conceived campaigns deploying QR codes due to these fundamental errors— a poorly placed QR code or the failure to optimize the landing page for mobile devices. The trick here is to link QR codes to relevant information that is clearly of value to the consumer.
- Choose a static location with good mobile reception, and place codes where users currently handle your products. Macy’s popular “Backstage Pass” program is a good example. Users with the app can scan codes in different parts of the store to get relevant, department-specific fashion advice on video from the brand’s celebrity partners.
- Size QR codes large enough (at least 1”) for easy scanning. If codes are hard to scan, users will get frustrated, instantly creating a negative brand perception.
- Use a URL shortener for the link so fewer characters need to be stored in the QR code. This creates a less visually complex barcode that is easier for devices to accurately scan.
- Don’t be coy. Clearly communicate to users who are considering whether to scan what value you’re offering. Otherwise they might not bother.
Acoustic fingerprinting (AF): Audio recognition technology is the audio equivalent of a QR code, and is typically deployed when users are actively consuming media (listening). Marketers can embed audio “fingerprints” in content, and then offer consumers an app to identify that content and provide relevant, context-specific information or deals. For example, someone watching TV might use an audio recognition app to identify and purchase a song or buy tickets to a movie being discussed on a talk show. Facebook has begun using audio recognition to help users automatically tag posts with TV shows and songs.
- Timing is crucial. Provide supplemental content at the precise time it becomes relevant. For example, viewers of the Conan O’Brian show who also have the show’s app can get additional information about show guests as they appear on screen.
- Target ads to your most passionate and receptive users. Toys ‘R’ Us developed an app for power-shopping moms that asks a series of questions about the child they are shopping for. Depending on the mom’s verbal responses, the app serves up recommendations for appropriate gifts to purchase.
- Make the “the ask,” or you may lose the sale. This means going beyond the “identification” phase and giving consumers an opportunity to buy.
Augmented reality (AR): Typically, AR is most effective in contexts where consumers are considering the purchase of big-ticket items—automobiles, appliances and furniture—which involve a relatively long consideration period, require a deeper understanding on the part of the consumer, and often include options for personalization or customization. Test the sales process to assure technology does not become the primary focus, nor detract from experience or payoff you wish to provide.
To make AR effective:
- Use AR to help close the sale to already-interested consumers. Consumers considering the purchase of an expensive product are likely to have a number of specific questions, such as, “Which of these two colors do I prefer?” or “Will this fit in my living room?” Design AR apps to provide vivid, compelling and specific answers to those questions.
- Give users the feeling that they are playing an active role in creating a product that works for them. For example, IKEA customers browsing the retailer’s catalog can download a companion app that allows them to use their cameras to view and “place” 3D representations of products directly in their own homes for a hands-on design experience.
- Use AR to increase consumers’ enjoyment of an already-purchased product. A Band-Aid app does just that, transforming any Muppet-branded adhesive bandage into a stage with performances by Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy and Gonzo to help soothe little ones’ cuts and scrapes.
The depth and breadth of mobile marketing features, capabilities, and devices give marketers and brands increased choice, complexity and new challenges to reach their core target audiences. Marketers have an unprecedented mix of new technologies at their fingertips. And by playing it smart and leveraging best practices, marketers can effectively capitalize on the boundless opportunities for customer relationship-building and sales.
Ashley Kemper is the essentials of digital marketing instructor at General Assembly Enterprise online training platform “The Essentials of Digital Marketing.”