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Mobile marketing: Why more retailers should start using Passbook offers

Apple’s Passbook application has been around for about a year and a half now and while you've probably seen it in action if you've boarded an aircraft or used a loyalty card, the adoption of Passbook by retailers has been a little slower than anticipated. That's surprising considering that mobile offers are redeemed 10X more frequently than print offers, and that an estimated 54 million consumers in the United States will use smartphone coupons in 2014.

As far as mobile marketing technologies go, Passbook is easy for marketers to test out. It doesn't require app integration like Push does, nor does it require extensive setup and compliance like SMS. It’s stand-alone and can be tested first and then adopted as a new marketing channel based on the progressive success of the tests.

Also, it can be deployed to consumers through a hyperlink, so that means distribution through email, SMS, Push, or through a QR code is relatively simple. Passbook offers can also have text codes and bar codes, making them compatible with any point of sale system, and offers can be set to expire so they'll disappear from a consumer’s device when they are no longer relevant.

Capture the location-based opportunity

In addition, Passbook is probably the easiest way to test out location-based offers. We know that consumers want location-based offers – in fact, 47 percent of consumers want mobile offers on their devices when they pass by a store. In its simplest use case, a Passbook offer targeting consumers in a given city may utilize up to 10 retail store locations, displaying the offer anytime a consumer passes by one of those locations.

Marketers can also create individualized offers based on consumer profile data – so, for example, I would only see the offer when I drive past a store that I’ve purchased from multiple times before. More creative still are the marketers using location aware offers to combat attrition. By coding the locations of competitors, a brand can remind the consumer of its offer the next time a consumer arrives at the competitor's store.

Making sure that consumers only get the offers that they want is critical. The most relevant use cases for location aware offers require marketers to know the preferred location of the consumer. Is it close to home, or work, or somewhere else that they frequent? We can’t just assume it to be the location closest to someone’s billing address. Imagine a consumer passing by a retail location on their daily commute to work, only to be reminded of an offer every day as they near a store they never enter. It's also important to consider the range.

I recently got a push notification offer from my credit card company for a restaurant about eight miles away from home. That may be okay in some markets, but for me eight miles is across town in horrible traffic - making it not relevant. According to a recent survey by Responsys, nearly a third of consumers have subscribed to mobile marketing from brands, but 35 percent of them are not getting relevant messaging. With location data-aware technologies marketers can obtain the information they need to be smart enough to meet that requirement.

Take a cross-channel view

So how does Passbook compare with other more established marketing channels? While every campaign is different, Passbook retail offer campaigns on average deliver a 3X increase in incremental in-store sales when compared to the same offer delivered over email. One Passbook campaign for a U.S. retailer saw a 58.7 percent pass install rate (for consumers with iOS6 or later) and an overall click-through rate of 5.3 percent of their general non-segmented audience.

The Responsys survey I mentioned above also tells us that customers are 43 percent more likely to make a purchase when mobile offers are part of an orchestrated campaign that unfolds over time across multiple channels, demonstrating that it's more important than ever to use these new marketing technologies in conjunction with your established channels like email.

Get started

Starting out with Passbook doesn't have to be difficult. If you already have a good idea of what devices your consumers are using, you can segment and target those users running iOS 6 or later. If you don't happen to have this data already, now is a great opportunity to gather it. By executing a Passbook campaign to a general audience with a simple static POS offer code you'll be able to capture your iOS user base based on redemption - anyone who redeems must have an iOS device.

More complex Passbook offers with unique redemption codes can help you gather more data about your customers - whether they spent a certain amount at a certain location over another, or that they shop certain categories based on the offer content.

Over time you'll build a more complete profile of your consumers, enabling new segmentation and individualized mobile marketing opportunities. For example, you might gather that location data from a Passbook offer and use it to create a targeted email, SMS, or display campaign.

Have you tested out Passbook yet? What has your experience been? Please share in the comments below.

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