Personalized mobile marketing and big data: A marriage in better shopping experiences

Retail Writer

Personalized mobile marketing changes the way consumers buy and retailers sell. Today's online shopping trends are throwing some serious competition at yesterday's in-store models. Tech-savvy millennials, with their impressive buying power, make up one of the most coveted demographics for brands both online and offline. With virtually every store accessible from their smartphones, millennials are drawn to the deep discounts and convenience online shopping offers. But how is mobile affecting brick-and-mortar setups?

Information-driven, online and in store

Many retailers shiver at the sight of a smartphone-wielding customer. Their fears are not unfounded. According to McKinsey & Company research featured in the Harvard Business Review, 44 percent of buyers use their smartphones while shopping, and more than a third of them do so to compare prices. A complete buying experience is what really drives today's consumers; it connects product research, queries, comparisons between options and the final moment of purchase.

Big data's big push

Big data and its insights are key tools for online businesses looking to predict future trends. Numerous studies and reports show how predictive capabilities, created and fueled by analytics, can help businesses improve customer intelligence. Last year, the TDWI Checklist Report outlined ways to apply big data to gain better customer intelligence.

Predictive customer intelligence solutions have emerged based on the idea that enhanced data analysis can provide a better understanding of customers. Businesses create strategies based on these insights to establish a more personalized experience for customers. Terms such as "engagement marketing," "one-to-one marketing" and "relationship marketing" are commonplace in the online business space.

But what about brick-and-mortar stores? Are they similarly enthusiastic about big data? Are they reaping its benefits? Truth be told, with the exception of large retailers such as Wal-Mart and Target, big data remains in the shadows for many businesses with physical locations. Only recently has the industry begun to understand what analytics can do. Fewer opportunities to track offline shopping behavior make it difficult for brick-and-mortar merchants to break into the big data game. This is no longer the case, however, as today's ubiquitous and hyperconnected devices make it possible to capture and utilize big data offline.

Connected in the offline world

Mobile-supported innovations open new ways for businesses to create better customer-focused experiences in store. Monitoring customer activity through Bluetooth and Wi-Fi signals is common among retailers. It is a low-risk way to gather anonymous data without being too invasive. Bluetooth-supported beacons and GPS-supported geofencing are two technologies that accurately draw location-based data. This information helps the retailer identify ways to enhance the shopping experience, such as increasing the number of employees in different departments during high-traffic times, opening more registers or changing the layout of merchandise.

When a customer voluntarily provides personal information, their relationship with the store becomes mutually beneficial. At that point, the retailer can begin building a detailed customer profile that records how many times the customer has visited that store, what products they've looked at online and their purchase history. Marketers can then send targeted messages and offers to the buyer's smartphone. Spontaneous and real-time marketing creates personalized in-store experiences for customers, provides two-way communication between the buyer and retailer and allows the business to reward buyer loyalty and make customer service improvements.

Mobile spurs in-store behavior

There is a new relationship between mobile ads and in-store shopping. According to a new report from San Francisco-based mobile intelligence firm NinthDecimal, mobile ads on smartphones and tablets can boost in-store visits by 80 percent on the very first day they are seen.

As smartphone ad targeting becomes more specific and accurate, a new set of privacy concerns emerges. Recent data from Ipsos, reported by PR Newswire, shows that over 60 percent of U.S. smartphone users are concerned about being tracked for targeted ads. But at the same time, today's buyers willingly give up personal information to receive better deals through promotions, offers and coupons. eDigitalResearch found that nearly half of smartphone users accept retailers' messages on their smartphones.

Now that personalized mobile marketing has become relevant for offline merchants, they should harness its benefits to compete successfully in an online-dominated world. Incentives draw customers to stores, and mobile helps deliver on this goal.

For more information on how to leverage data to build lasting customer relationships, visit our Solutions page.