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Mobile Marketing and The Evolution Of E-commerce

By Marissa Tarleton, CMO, RetailMeNot, Inc

Marissa Tarleton, CMO, RetailMeNot, Inc

Consumers love to shop. However, the means and methods in which they find what they want continue to evolve; and in true digital fashion, the e-commerce industry has transformed once again.

More than ever before, it feels as if marketers are struggling to keep up with the pace of change.

In 2016, we saw digital tipping past the 50 percent mark in terms of influencing in-store sales, according to eMarketer. Additionally, the rise of mobile technology has influence online sales, with sales from mobile devices will total more than $102 billion in 2017, up 52 percent from the previous year.

This year, one of the biggest opportunities for retailers and brands lies in the ability to capture new customers through a variety of mobile vehicles and content that will drive conversion. Here are three things to keep in mind as marketing for online retailers continues to evolve.

Mobile Is Your Friend (That’s here to stay)

In the world of mobile commerce, there’s been plenty of movement over the past year—and the growth is important to make note of. M-commerce now accounts for more than one-third of e-commerce sales (34 percent), with most of the growth coming from smart-phone devices.

"In 2016, we saw digital tipping past the 50 percent mark in terms of influencing in-store sales, according to eMarketer"

However, the window of opportunity goes beyond the bottom of the funnel. Retailers can find more opportunity in creating higher mobile consideration effectively with both the right content and the right timing—which often means immediately for today’s shoppers. The latest evolution of online retail marketing now allows brands to move beyond mobile websites and forced app downloads to more native content that reaches customers while they are engaged in mobile moments.

Mobile also brings many challenges for retailers who aren’t prepared. Optimizing content for mobile viewing was just the first hurdle. Additionally, on average, today’s consumer has two or fewer shopping apps on their phone. This makes it imperative that brands serve up the right content across a variety of digital outlets: emails, push notifications, alerts, text messages, and more.

One of the reasons that mobile marketing continues to take off is because of a fundamental shift toward immediacy and connectivity among consumers, especially in the case of new audiences such as millennials. In fact,87 percent of millennials who own a smartphone say it never leaves their side.

Millennial shoppers are often looking for instant gratification when it comes to product searching and deal seeking. Smartphone devices allow brands to be there front and center, so their names remain top of mind during the purchase path.

Build a Strong Framework and Marketing Mix

We are no longer marketing in a flat environment. The mobile marketing mix now allows us to drive consideration through multiple digital vehicles. Due to the latest technology advancements, everyone is now a cross-channel customer and, in turn, online retailers are challenged with ensuring their online experience is poised to compete. Marketers can do this by creating strong owned content across a variety of digital mediums, in addition to paid and earned content that reaches potential customers on channels where they already are.

One Kings Lane is a brand that has successfully built valuable owned content and become a prominent mainstay among online retailers over the past few years. The furniture and home decor site offers content that is premium in nature. Its built an online marketplace that is thriving in an industry that typically compels consumers to go in-store before ordering online.

Between its e-commerce website, mobile app, Live Love Home blog and social media presence, One Kings Lane has established a marketing balance that elevates its product offering and makes transactions incredibly easy for the customer.

Beyond brands successfully creating their own platforms for content, earned and paid content is an important part of the mix. Native ad content on mobile devices is a strong bet for brands moving forward, and adding it can deliver more than four times higher engagement rates on smartphones than traditional, non-native display ads can.

Premium native ads—or native ads on publisher websites including branded or sponsored content—will be imperative to capturing customers as marketing grows in mobile, video and social content.

Think Outside Your BrandBox

It’s necessary to look for creative ways to engage and capture consumers that push beyond the boundaries of your traditional marketing strategies. Growing your ecosystem to include partner sites and apps—and reaching consumers in their local environment—allows retailers to convert more customers from browse to buy.

By expanding your brand’s reach through partner technology, retailers can engage new customers in a targeted way with content that’s highly relevant.

In addition to utilizing partnerships to gain new customers, brands can partner in ways that allow them to get in front of customers in the moments that matter with strategies like geo-location marketing. The industry will see big growth in this area as geo-targeted content and offers move beyond the hype and become much more coveted by marketers.

By collaborating, retailers and brands can work with partners who have higher opt-in rates among their user base for geo-location services. For example, the retail industry average for opting in to geolocation services, such as push notification, is 37 percent. However, consumers— and potentially your customers—elect to opt in to location capabilities at higher than average rates for apps like RetailMeNot and video streaming services like Netflix and Hulu Plus(53 percent and 47 percent, respectively). These services allow omni-channel retailers the ability to reach their customers both digitally and in-store with relevant content regardless of channel and in the apps where they are already interacting with content.

In 2017, the bottom line is that retailers and brands must push the boundaries of their marketing mix and mobile presence. From desktop screens to mobile apps to native content and whatever is next, retailers cannot expect their customer to simply come to them; they must utilize partner expertise to go where the customer is.

That means using both old and new digital marketing tactics, such as geo-location targeting, native mobile ads and unexpected partnerships and expansions, which will help everyday retailers gain a larger share of voice among online competitors and brick-and-mortar retailers alike.

All of this ladders up to higher mobile consideration, which ultimately leads to more online sales. E-commerce is an ever-changing force that will continue to transform in order to meet the needs of modern-day shoppers. Retail marketers must continue to evolve with it.