To find retail's sweet spot, a purchase, put the customer ahead of technology. For multiple purchases, make customers influencers for your business.
That's the advice Jeremiah Owyang, an industry analyst and partner at the Altimeter Group, gave attendees at the Mobile Marketing Strategies Summit in San Francisco.
Owyang's keynote, building a strategy based on consumers use of mobile devices, captured the audience's attention; he clearly delineated how the explosion of mobile growth–more smartphones and tablets will be sold this year than PCs–makes this knowledge vital to business.
A savvy company should begin its move into mobile technology by asking customers what they want, he said. Poll them on a six-month basis, or purchase market research. That way you're building a platform on customers' needs.
With that information, Owyang said, turn the purchase funnel on its head to form an hourglass.
These are the seven steps needed to create a successful mobile strategy.
1. Awareness is at the top of the hourglass. Customers need to know that your product or service will alleviate their problem. Advertising, he said, is a strong way to build awareness. Utility apps are a way to advertise without pushing product. The North Face's The Snow Report, reaches its target demographics by giving information skiers need.
2. Consideration comes next. Owyang said at this stage, augmented reality is fantastic to help customers make decision. Using QR codes also helps prospects with purchases.
3. Intent comes into play when a consumer is resolute about making a purchase and has chosen to buy from you. ShopRite offers a shopping list which syncs between mobile and their website to reduce friction. This form of social commerce, he said, will fuel an increase in sales
4. Awareness, consideration, and intent lead to Purchase. Walgreen's is an example of a company that makes it easy to shop for prescription refills. A customer scans the medicine bottle and the company does the rest.
Owyang sees a future where through the use of prepay and mobile, by the time a customer gets to a store, the purchase can be delivered to their car.
5. Successful companies go beyond purchase to Support. USAA bank customers can scan and deposit checks without ever having to send them in. Delta flyers can board their flights with an e-boarding pass on their phone.
Support benefits both the customer and the company–saving consumers time and businesses money.
6. Loyalty programs like Starbucks partnership with Foursquare, which offers barista badges and drink discounts to mayors, combines mobile with social, keeping consumers engaged with, and attached to, a business. Owyang pointed out that social gaming increases spend.
7. Done properly, Advocacy feeds awareness. You get it–people become your evangelists–when you have the support section of the hourglass in place.Through advocacy, your message gets out faster and costs your company less. Tasti D-Lite built consumer advocacy using mobile and social gamification.
Laurel Tielis is a former retail reporter at WWD, HFN, the Miami Herald, People Magazine and others. She is a sought-after speaker on the topic of how retailers can increase sales, and is the author of "Ka-Ching! How to Ring Up More Sales."