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Upwardly mobile

The ubiquitious smartphone is set to become the biggest internet platform on the planet within the next year or two, opening up a world of loyalty-generating opportunity for marketers that are equipped to take advantage of the channel, says James Lawson.

“SMS campaigns can be set up during the summer so that when the weather forecast for a weekend is good, they are sent out to promote relevant offers – for BBQs and so on.” Andy Wood, Managing Director, GI Insight


n loyalty marketing and in the wider world, social media and the move to the mobile Internet are two of the biggest global trends. With the all-pervading smartphone set to become the largest Internet platform in the next year or two, marketing is moving increasingly to the mobile channel. And whether at home or on their mobile, the attraction of Facebook and Twitter’s ever-expanding user base has marketers innovating like never before.

These days, we use mobile apps to do everything from playing sponsored games to booking a flight. You can download an app that translates airport signs, scan a QR code to pick up product info with one click or, with technology like Blippar, point a mobile at a tomato sauce bottle and see recipes pop out of it – or even check the points level on your favourite loyalty scheme.

Using the various flavours of mobile messaging to remind loyal customers about bookings and reservations is now commonplace, and indeed expected or demanded by hotel and airline scheme members. Likewise, opted-in customers are used to seeing marketing messages via this channel.

“A shopping list app is an interesting way of targeting coupons to customers to allow them to scan items in-store, use voice recognition and share purchases online.” Oliver Felstead, Sales & Marketing Director,

TACTICAL OPPORTUNITIES “We use mobile tactically in certain situations,” says Andy Wood, Managing Director of GI Insight. “For instance, email and SMS campaigns can be set up during the summer months, ready for execution, so that when the weather forecast for a weekend is good, they are sent out to promote relevant offers – barbeques, for example.” According to Wood, QR codes and smart phones also play their part. For example, Subway’s loyalty campaign has the card data stored on a mobile phone app, meaning there is no need to carry a plastic card. Nectar and Tesco ClubCard take this direction too, with their apps offering everything from recipes and points offers

to targeted e-coupons. GI Insight has also developed an app which

stores loyalty information on a mobile phone, but Wood says this approach is stymied by the low resolution of most EPOS scanners; to read the card details, most businesses would have invest in a big upgrade. Tesco is the exception in retail loyalty, able to scan its own ClubCard on-phone barcodes at the checkout. A similar barrier applies to brand owners’ coupons: to redeem coupons received via digital channels, customers must first print them off and take along the paper copies. “Mobile apps are currently restricted as

retailers can’t support mobile couponing,” says Oliver Felstead, Sales and Marketing Director at The company is planning to bring out a UK version of its US-only Grocery IQ shopping list app later this year. will run the card independently of the big supermarket chains and will build its own database.

“A shopping list app is an interesting way of targeting coupons to customers,” says Felstead. “It will allow customers to scan items in-store, has voice recognition and customers can share purchases online. We will represent brands but not restrict redemption to a single retailer.” However, others argue that it’s social media rather than a single channel like mobile that is the biggest step forward for loyalty marketing. “The mobile channel is not loyalty-specific, it’s

more about extending the web to the mobile device,” says Dan Smith, Senior Vice President of Marketing at Clicksquared. “Using mobile to make offers or to allow points redemption is expected and doing that within a mobile app is certainly more powerful and usable for the customer. But the real change is in social media.” Its sophistication notwithstanding, social is still essentially a broadband channel. Only when they move from passive consumption of Facebook or Twitter content to actively opting in to specific feeds or otherwise providing their contact details

April 2012 35

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