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40 DIGITAL MARKETING


The smart choice for digital marketing


‘Digital’ may be a buzzword in the marketing arena but with many emerging technologies not long out of development and yet to be proven successful, choosing the wrong tool for your centre can be an expensive and futile exercise. So, what are the options?


market over traditional ‘feature’ phones, shopping centre landlords and managers are striving to stay ahead of the game, rolling out free Wi-Fi for their customers and looking to digital platforms like apps and QR codes to drive marketing campaigns. But industry experts are keen to point out that not all that glitters is gold. Capital & Regional’s marketing & CRM


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manager, Kris Hunt, has a word of warning: “Often with these new tools, people start using them because they’re new, shiny and exciting and the reasoning for using them often has to fit in afterwards. “Jumping on the bandwagon isn’t necessarily going to get results – you have to have a clear objective of what you want to achieve. Agencies tend to use the latest technologies because they want to be seen as cutting edge. But you need to look into it quite carefully and think about ROI.” For Hunt, using an app has to be about


providing a service for customers, giving them information they can’t get anywhere else. The Mall’s RewardME app is tied in with the company’s loyalty card, enabling Capital & Regional to track usage and communicate with customers more effectively. But, according to Hunt, going down the app route might not have been a viable option without


SHOPPING CENTRE FEBRUARY 2013


s smartphone penetration in the UK nears 50 per cent and is expected to rise rapidly as smartphones continue to take hold of the mobile


the integration of the loyalty card. Capital & Regional also uses QR codes but is careful about how and where, using them as a supplementary tool rather than building campaigns around the need to scan them. “There’s been a flurry of new tools like QR codes and augmented reality,” says Hunt. “Augmented reality is an interesting idea but in practice it’s clunky. We’ve avoided it because it can be difficult for people to understand and tricky to use. It’s a bit of a step to get something like that to work effectively in the business metric.” According to Meadowhall centre director,


Darren Pearce, retailers and shopping centres must move with the times because “complacency will cost those who don’t.” “With real incomes still under pressure and consumer confidence still reasonably low, one of retail’s biggest challenges is to offer shoppers not just products but an experience,” he says. He puts Meadowhall’s success down to listening carefully to and understanding what its customers want and responding appropriately. And part of that


www.shopping-centre.co.uk


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