retail to mobile II

The mobile medium is  retails best tool for customer acquisition, profiling and retention.How does a retail business practically engage the mobile consumer ? Are their examples of such businesses that have a marketing strategy that is mobile ? Should they have a mobile marketing strategy ?

No, its not a rhetorical question! The mobile phone is not only personal, but is being personalized even more thereby creating an opportunity for unique, individual and personal marketing campaigns. Smart retail marketing campaigns must include a mobile strategy by adding SMS short codes, creating mobile sites to complement existing online stores, and perhaps in the future of our market creating applications that offer a unique shopping experience.

When developing a mobile campaign, key to its success is providing multiple entry points into the campaign and allow products to access a larger audience. For a market like ours opportunities lie in using, Voice, SMS , USSD and WAP.

SMS marketing and Mobile Web.

Mobile marketing has to evolve from the use bulk sms to a random list, to using targeted listings,  banner ads and click to buy options that enable direct retail. Shortcode campaigns are high on context awareness and relevancy, as they tap into the mobiles unique features of convenience and ability to deliver timely messages.

Sending a keyword to a short code is the main method used in SMS campaigns. You can SMS to opt-in or subscribe to a message delivery service, or you can SMS and Opt-in to a competition. its the best opt-in mechanism as all phones can accept and send SMS. This medium makes sense due to its immediacy and ability to target to the individual. SMS is also an easy service to use.

Benefits of an SMS campaign would be:

  • acquire customers
  • improve customer loyalty
  • build your brand
  • drive sales

You can use multiple keywords to segment customers . A text to opt-in method allows you to collect data on your customer that you would otherwise have not had. Segmenting your customers into user profiles, allows you to create products that are relevant to them.  Use of a text campaign should focus on building a database for future re-marketing. Case in point KTN’s text to win a car campaign. Employs the various strategies of using separate keywords for different TV shows, thus acquiring a customer profile for each of the shows running the campaign.

Mobile web offers the consumer the opportunity to view timely offers on the go. The goal for a retail mobile strategy is to allow users to engage & interact with content how they want, and when they want. The mobile web can and will act as a mini portable store, this brings the concept of going to your customer to life.

The goal for any mobile strategy is to ensure that the customer is at the center of all communications. The mobile retail market will move from primarily a digital content sales channel such as ringtones, games etc to a rich ecosystem of mobile commerce platforms selling goods and services outside of the mobile environment

Glossary of terms:

USSD-USSD (Unstructured Supplementary Service Data) is a technology used by the network to send information (usually text menus) between a mobile phone and an application on the network. USSD will allow you to request information in short codes (starting with * and ending with #), or via your phone i.e *144# for  checking your airtime

retail business goes mobile

Are you in retail business ? Does your business involve selling goods to people ? How many of those people have mobile phones ?…All? are you selling online ?  If you are not, then your retail business is on its deathbed! Predictions are that mobile internet will continue to grow rapidly in terms of penetration and frequency of usage.

Not only is your business behind, but the mobile consumer is already evolving.  Consumers are already creating the mobile consumption habit. They see it on their wap page, they want it, they buy it on the spot and pay via their mobile.  Customers have always defined the market behaviour. What’s the mobile market saying ? We want the things we want, when we want,and our mobile phone allows us to buy and pay for it now.

Why is the mobile web important to your retail business? Firstly, mobile is the access point to the internet for the developing markets. For Africa, internet=mobile internet.

Moreover the  key reason mobile trumps all other channels is  the ability to individually target customers with relevant content offerings. No other channel presents the ability to acquire customer profiles as easily as the mobile web. Customer profiling and segmentation is the key to successful marketing.

Next : How does a well meaning retail business sell itself on the mobile web ?

my mobile lifestyle

Quoted over and over again is the fact that there are 19 million mobile subscribers in Kenya.Out of this 2 million are mobile internet users, and growing exponentially month on month. Those numbers may not mean much on face value, but if you think about it closely,  the average Kenyan is far more mobile savvy than you thought they were.

Kenya is ranked in the top 5 mobile web countries in Africa. While most traffic is towards social media sites like Facebook, consumers are turning to the mobile web for transactions and interactions with local content.  While this is so, a close look at various mobile sites, and very few can deliver the experience a consumer is looking for.

The mobile customer is ruthless in their expectations and will expect that they can find a company’s  fully mobile optimized wap site when they type its URL onto their mobile browser. Majority of mobile users expect that a wap site will load equally if not faster than on their PC. Surveys on consumers suggest that half of mobile users are only willing to wait 6- 10 secs for a page to load before giving up.

A poor mobile experience will impact how a consumer perceives the brand quality.  The mobile consumer is very unforgiving, and will be less likely to return to a mobile site if they had a poor user experience. Their behavior mimics their lifestyle. Always on the move, so mobile services  must  deliver the same experience. I should be able to bank while in the bus, and not have to wait till  i get home to receive my balance enquiry.

Take KCB connect, recently i moved money from my account to my m-pesa, paid my electricity bill, sent money to my sister in eldoret, topped -up my credit, paid my grocer and landlady in the time it took a matatu to get me from Valley Arcade to Kawangware, less than 10 minutes!

With mobile web, consumers expect fast anytime transactions, and if they cannot complete a transaction they abandon it all together. The services must always work  in a seamless, convenient and flawless manner.

So what are the basics:

  • Speed – of utmost importance, its got to be fast to be relevant
  • make sure content formats match on your wap sites
  • any links on your site should also be working- number one complaint about mobile web, is that links do not take you to the pages you where following.
  • minimal downtime- while its hard for any service to guarantee no downtime, minimising downtime has a huge impact on userability.

In creating a mobile service the number 1 question should always be, what is the best user experience we can build for customers, that will create not only a connection, but a deeper product engagement for them.

local content on demand!

Statistics for music downloads are that local content accounts for 70% while international downloads are at 30%.

Infact the most popular categories for music downloads are the Benga, Rhumba and Vernacular genres. What is surprising about this is that most download ads, do not actually target the 70% customer. They target the 30 % uptown, high end mobile user. While the actual customer is not sophisticated at all.

They are looking for a convenient music service, that delivers the experience they want, seamless and simple! Local content is what while drive mobile customer engagement as attested to by the East Africa article on We have the demand for local content, why not upload it? the topic. Check it out, and hopefully it spurs you to create a localised mobile service.

from consumers to converts

The biggest challenge any marketing campaign would have is how to convert the target audience to actual consumers.

Most Ads are geared to get you to buy only once. While the first sale is important, it does not necessarily of itself convert your target to consumers of your brand/product/service.

Most will buy from you once, but will not interact with you again. The thing that actually keeps your service afloat is the repeat buyers, those “converts” who already have a consumption habit.

Conversion for most products is only gained through consumer interaction. Unless your product is deemed as a necessity by the consumer, then you will be  hard pressed to create a consumption habit.