Mobile Commerce and Loyalty

Determining your own enterprises m-commerce (Mobile Ecommerce) readiness is a challenging task. From analyzing your own customer segment to developing, scheduling and tracking creative mobile marketing messages, going mobile is near impossible for millions of online merchants, but it has not stopped a few daring souls from engaging in what may be (emphasis on "may") a channel which can secure brand loyalty and ultimately increase sales. The merchants that do invest in "going mobile" are the early adopters in every sense of the phrase and we can learn from both their successes and failures. But first, we must understand why the mobile Web is important.

While you may have never bought anything on the mobile Web directly, chances are actually pretty good that the messaging you've received on your mobile device has influenced a purchase at some later date, whether online or at a brick and mortar retailer. In a world where constant connectivity is the norm, marketing to a tech-savvy audience in this channel for the purpose of generating sales can provide long term ecommerce traction with users - let's call it loyalty.

When you (the merchant) leverage a channel with new and unique touch points, you have an opportunity to secure loyalty. When you secure that loyalty, you can increase sales. Is it really that simple? Of course not; there are many considerations that have to be made and to do that we have to understand how to make mobile ecommerce work. To make it work, you need detailed customer profiles.

Mobile ecommerce is not a panacea for online business success by any means, but for those Web enterprises with their virtual marketing and technology ducks in a row can be confident that, done in a way that does not alienate users, will generate a positive impact on their bottom line. One way to not alienate users is to understand what makes them unique. Developing customer profiles (demographics, purchase history, etc.) tells us how much loyalty exists already and how much can be earned. Ask any successful merchant on the Web if they keep detailed customer profiles and the answer will be yes. The reason is that by understanding our audience, we can market to them more effectively.

Understanding who your audience is and what they react to goes a long way towards building long term loyalty and generating sales. If you were the online marketing manager for StarBucks, you wouldn't send an offer to someone in Alaska during December, right? Building customer profiles and segmenting them accordingly based on where they live, their age or gender and even what they have purchased before makes messaging more effective. In a point, click and delete world, targeted messaging make all the difference.

Once customer profiles have been developed and lists segmented appropriately, it's on to the messaging. Once a handle on "who the customer is" has been established, messaging can be developed which appeals directly to their needs and availability. Back to our Starbucks example, segmenting profiles to send a hot coffee coupon for that same user in Alaska will yield far higher results than for the same message to someone in Miami. Some creative additions to your own m-commerce messaging efforts might be to tie in "send-to-friend" features, including social media invitations (for example, encouraging users to upload photos to an official Flickr account of them using your products - e.g. drinking that hot coffee), offering toll-free phone numbers, and even Web-based wish lists. Using such cross-channel marketing tactics will increase the opportunities you have to influence buying decisions. Building loyalty over time will yield a higher average lifetime customer value - which is something that all merchants should pursue.