The buzz around mobile
applications, mobile design
and mobile advertising can
distract Internet retailers
from their core mission,
which is to sell products.
Today’s most successful e-commerce
merchants, however, understand how
to best use these technologies and
platforms to increase revenue and
The most effective way to do that
is by using mobile as a supplement
to an existing website’s promotional
efforts. Below we will explore several
strategies for excelling in what has become a challenging and
For several years now, online retailers have anticipated and prepared
for a dramatic rise in mobile commerce. Many have gone
so far as to invest in elaborate applications or optimized their
websites specifically for smartphone and tablet users. What the
Internet retailing community has learned in the past year, however,
is that consumers are still unsure about making actual
purchases from their mobile devices.
Smaller screens, unfamiliar interfaces and slower load times
are but a few of the obstacles facing both users and merchants.
One humorous survey from Tealeaf Technology reported that
most users consider mobile transactions more frustrating than
going to their Department of Motor Vehicles. The same study
revealed that 23 percent of mobile users have cursed at their devices
while making a purchase; 11 percent have screamed at
their devices and 4 percent of mobile shoppers have actually
thrown their devices when things didn’t go as planned.
As a result, today’s retailers must remain relatively cautious
with their mobile strategies. The “all-in” approach is no longer
advisable, as evidenced by the fact that most merchants receive
only about 2 percent of their overall revenues through sales
made directly from mobile devices, according to a recent report
from Forrester Research.
That percentage is sure to increase over time, making
mobile a vital component to the success of every e-commerce
enterprise in the future. The key is in knowing how to supplement
a company’s existing online presence through the implementation
of a well-conceived mobile strategy.
“Its been a transition that’s taken the past three to four
years, and it is still very much going on,” says Tom Nawara,
vice president of digital marketing firm The Acquity Group.
“No business should shut down its website and jump into mobile
100 percent. It is about providing customers with multichannel
engagement — testing the waters to find ways of
augmenting sales through mobile.”
Augmenting sales through the mobile channel — rather than
relying on sales directly from mobile shoppers — is the best approach
for merchants to take in the current environment.
Most of today’s smartphone and tablet users rely on their devices
for searching, browsing and gathering information, and
not necessarily making purchases. Mobile consumerism is still
very much a work in progress, but the convenience of finding
a business’ Web pages while stuck in traffic or in line at the
bank is a significant draw for users.
Before investing in mobile applications that only a handful
of users may utilize, business owners should ensure that their
companies are readily available through mobile searches. At
the very least, that will require a noticeable presence on Google
and Bing – most fundamentally creating a Google Places page
that includes all of the information that a user might need. To
take it a step further, business owners will want to enlist the
services of comparison shopping engines, making their products
and prices available to mobile shoppers in real time.
Mobile customers may not intend to make purchases directly
from their smartphones, but they will very likely want to
research products, compare prices or simply find a brick-andmortar
establishment. Make the process easy for them, or they
will move on to the next option without hesitation.
Most retailers think of mobile as a vehicle for customers to find
them, but too few consider the flip side. The mobile channel is
also ideal for merchants who want to increase their visibility,
and SMS or text-message marketing is an effective tactic for
doing just that.
Incorporating the mobile channel into a marketing plan requires
significant effort. E-commerce websites should require
that an option to include mobile telephone numbers is available
on each registration form, and the most successful companies
know how to use that information advantageously.
The idea is not to be intrusive but accommodating. Ways
of doing that may include sending out discounted deals via
SMS, or conducting contests exclusive to mobile subscribers.
Any tactic that invites engagement through the mobile channel
is a viable strategy — but they should not be limited to building
applications or optimizing websites.
“A proper SMS program should be viewed not just as a potential
way to communicate and cultivate a relationship but also
as a relevant connector to other aspects of your brand experience
for a customer,” says Dave Lawson, director of mobile engagement
at Web marketing firm Knotice. “It can include alerts,
branding messages, discounts, exclusive content, etcetera, but
it works best when it is combined with a mobile website and
is relevant to the message, works in conjunction with push
notifications in apps or contests and sweepstakes to activate
sponsorships or a social media presence.”
If you’re considering getting involved with SMS marketing,
vendors to evaluate include Mobile Storm, Trumpia, SumoText
The mobile landscape is constantly changing, which makes
strategizing all the more difficult for merchants. The best course
of action is to gain an intimate knowledge of your audience
before considering a mobile application or optimizing your
Both options may require a significant investment, and
might not be completely necessary depending on your company’s
vertical. A flashy application for the iPad can be an
alluring prospect but makes little sense for a business whose
core users are not yet tablet-savvy.
Customer research is an essential element in the process, the
goal being to gauge your visitors’ needs based on their habits.
Surveys provide the best insight into user behavior, as do simple
analytics and even A/B or multivariate testing.
“Try taking a look at the way your customers are interacting
with your website on mobile devices and optimize for that,” says
Lawson. “Look at referrals from search, opens and clicks from
emails, affiliate and social media paths to your site — even QR
codes. All are things that you can first quantify, then determine
how valuable that type of mobile user is. You can optimize the
most important pieces first with the long-tail customer types
becoming fast followers.”
A company’s most effective mobile strategy will depend on
what is determined through this research. Whether it be an app
for tablet or smartphone users, a mobile-optimized upgrade to an
existing website, a brand new microsite or some variation of them
all, the one thing we know for sure where mobile is concerned is
to proceed a certain amount of caution and a lot of optimism.
Now That’s Local!
Local.com announced recently the
launch of its first integrated solution
resulting from the recent Krillion
and Rovion acquisitions (read
more at http://wsm.co/jlKv6J).
The dynamic, geo-targeted
rich media ad units from Rovion
provide real-time data from
Krillion on products that are
geographically local to each user,
including information on current
discounts, pricing, product details,
store locations and in-stock availability. Local.com
plans to distribute these dynamic ads across
its network of 1,400 regional media publishers’
websites, as well as third-party partner networks,
which will create additional reach.