Friday, November 18, 2011

Hybrid Experiences – Integrating Mobile with Print, Social, Digital for Winning Customer Experiences

Retailers today struggle with what to give customers in store, how to create a memorable experience, and how to create additional value and revenue. All are trying different tactics to increase revenues and loyalty through mobile /social sharing in store.

The question is, are these repeatable models to scale? Who owns this experience in a brand? Is there a central owner? I’ve heard more times than I can count that within each brand there are no short of 5 heads of marketing, each having different P&L, responsibilities and agendas. And then there are the brands’ agencies (plural), which all have different roles and agendas. So which agency and which VP of Marketing owns the “new hybrid” customer experience in store? When you determine who the owner is, where is their knowledge coming from? The lack of knowledge in the industry today on mobile is one of the main reasons so many brands have not done mobile, or not done mobile well. Mobile is exciting and it’s all over the news; you can’t help but read about a new mobile campaign rollout these days. Should you make corporate decisions by following what other brands have done?.Do you really want to follow exactly what your competitor is doing? Anyone can hit one homerun but that doesn’t get you an over .300 batting average. You have to engage a company that lives and breathes mobile, you can’t run your business day to day and be in tune with every new technology out there.

Now, let’s talk about the new hybrid customer experience. This is the experience in which customers engage with a brand in store in the new “digital, interactive, mobile, social” realm. The reason I don’t give it a name and it can be classified into four categories. No one knows what to call digital interactions in store.

One size consumer experiences do not fit all. We have to look at our new consumers groups and how they want to engage, the channel they want to engage and how to get them to re-engage and come back into the store. This is the biggest miss by brands in the marketplace today.

Each brand usually is targeting multiple demographics. First you must outline a mobile strategy to understand your demographic channels, how to engage and how often to re-engage. It’s just as important to first run “blocking and tackling” campaigns prior to “trick plays”. We see more brands trying to do far out innovative things and a only few will stick and work, but creating a foundation for building a mobile database that will last and not just be “one timers” is built from the main steps in mobile.

So who are the demographics and how do you reach them?

Moms with kids: These ladies are high texters, it’s the only way they can get ahold of their kids, they use the internet on their phones regularly to find things while on the go, they opt in to mobile campaigns to get value add and share with other mothers. This group is growing in smartphones but doesn’t use applications frequently as of today.

Minorities: This demographic uses their cell phones as the primary phone in the household. They have low landline usage and don’t have internet in home. They are primarily text users because it’s unlimited in their plans and they watch their cell phone minutes carefully. Typical phones are WAP or xHTML, very low smartphone users in this demographic.

Business Stakeholders: this is your group of business people that are in sales, technology or management and have a smartphone primarily to stay connected to work. They have applications downloaded on their phones and use a combination of text, email and internet on their phones. They typically have 7-10 applications downloaded on their phones and use 2-4 regularly.

Corporate Business: This group works for corporate America and is connected to Blackberries. Corporations aren’t getting off the Blackberry servers anytime soon due to the investment of the security issues with iPhones and Androids. These folks are Blackberry lovers because they can type fast in response to the high email and texting usage. The Berry Group, does use internet regularly but not as often as the other Business group and very limited applications downloaded.

Tweens: This group of cell phone users are feature phones and “smaller” Blackberries. Their parents need them to have a phone to reach them but don’t want to pay for a data plan. This demographic is about 90% texting, 10% voice, very limited smartphones.

High School/College Kids: Very similar to tweens, however this group uses text frequently, less voice, and limited data plans due to the costs. This group is very into Facebook and usually connects to this through the mobile website and not the application on their device.

Non Mainstream Male: this is the gamer, surfer, skateboarder, and musician 23-35 year old male. This group is the highest Android group and doesn’t want to conform to Apple and likes to be different and support new things. This group is big on gaming application downloads and texting, this group is not a fan of “voice” conversations and sometimes is irritated with phone calls.

So how do you connect and make an emotional connection and experience with these different consumer groups in store? You understand the key drivers around purchasing behavior, social behavior and choose interactions and experiences that go across multiple mobile channels to appeal to each demographic.

If you roll out a QR code program for tweens or minorities it will fail. If you roll out a QR code and SMS program for tweens, minorities and Moms, you will see the interactions by channel and give these groups multiple ways to engage with the brand.

More on Hybrid experiences and closing the gap in my next post.

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