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How to utilise the rise of the smartphone for your business.
Nielsen reported back in 2010 that smartphones would overtake feature phones in the U.S. by 2011. It is often true that where the U.S. leads we follow. I have had an iPhone for a couple of years now, as do many of my friends, if not an iPhone then mostly an HTC Android phone. Whatever your predilection for handsets they all allow you to connect with others and in particular services/offers in an easy, quick manner.
With this in mind, and the examples I am coming into contact with through work, it got me thinking: how can brands and companies best utilise the rise of the Smartphone. Here’s my take:
GPS can be utilised in any number of ways but Foursquare is a great app which allows brands to take advantage of this easy to use feature on a Smartphone that many are comfortable using.
Starwood Hotels (which includes W Hotels, Sheraton, Westin and the St. Regis) ran it's SPG loyalty program — Starwood Preferred Guest - through just that app. Once a guest links their SPG and Foursquare accounts, they can earn 250 Starpoints when they check in to a Starwood hotel with a confirmed reservation.
Abbey Reider, associate director for global search marketing and social media strategy at Starwood stated “it’s great because rather than trying to reward with a discount or something related to our food and beverage outlets, we give back something that is truly meaningful and that the guests care about.” A night at a Starwood hotel can “cost” 3,000 or more Starpoints, however, handily, the rewards have the same value all over the world. The same campaign runs at all 1,051 Starwood hotels, and there’s no need to worry about currency value, since a point is a point, no matter the country.
Since the campaign’s launch in May, SPG has “given away” nearly 10 million points, creating huge brand loyalty and increased chance of repeat visit as guests build their points tally.
I had viewed QR codes as a bit of a fad that while interesting didn't hold any real value for the brand deploying them or the end consumer-user. However, we recently tweeted about the Home Plus supermarket store in Korea (owned by UK supermarket giant Tesco) and their QR code campaign. Faced with the task of increasing sales without opening more locations they looked at their target market and what they could do to help them with their grocery shopping.
Koreans are the second most hardworking people in the world so the question was how could they get the store to the people rather than making them use their hard earned free time to do the grocery shop?
A print campaign appeared in frequented areas all over the country that represented a virtual store. Consumers simply had to scan the QR code next to the product and it was entered into their online cart. Once payment is made the goods are then delivered to the purchasers doorstep.
Handy for sure! But what is most impressive is that this thoughtful use of QR codes allows consumers to interact with the brand and it's products outside of a store and in particular add perceived value to the consumer as they can shop while they wait for trains, buses etc.
This great campaign increased registered members for the online Home Plus store by 76% and online sales by 130%. Watch the Home Plus campaign video.
Sure it's an obvious one but sometimes those are the very points that are overlooked. Smartphones allow brands and companies to connect with their target market through apps as well as online, anytime, anywhere.
Flurry analytics, as quoted by The Guardian newspaper in the UK, said that in June 2010, the average US mobile user spent 43 minutes a day using apps. In June 2011, that had increased to 81 minutes. Flurry claims this means mobile app usage has now overtaken desktop and mobile web usage in terms of minutes per day per user, citing comScore and Alexa statistics to show this is 74 minutes for web usage. This comes from more shorter sessions per user per day rather than extended visits. Another clue to how you should be delivering content or campaigns in bite sized chunks rather than in depth information or complicated processes?
Payment via mobile.
I know that every year we hear this is going to be the year of mobile but it would seem changes are really afoot. This isn’t something that is going to be an immediate implementation but it is something I think all should be aware of.
I was reading an interesting article on Isis. Technically a ‘start-up company’ it actually has the backing of three of the four major U.S. mobile operators and is a nationwide mobile commerce network spawned in late 2010 that has the potential to connect 200 million wireless subscribers across the U.S. with merchants equipped to accept mobile payments from their customers.
It allows consumers to purchase goods by swiping their microchip-equipped Smartphones at corresponding reader units located at participating retailers. The process relies on something called near field communications (NFC), similar to the MasterCard PayPass ads where everyone just waves their credit card at a machine and moves on.
Most interestingly and what I think is a little more hard proof rather than predictions, is that handset maker Nokia has pledged to support NFC in all new Smartphone models introduced this year. Google also announced late last year that NFC integration is included in the updated version of its Android mobile operating system. Research firm iSuppli predicts worldwide shipments of mobile devices with built-in NFC capabilities will increase to 220.1 million units in 2014, up from 52.6 million in 2010. There are also more than 100,000 contactless readers already in situ in U.S. merchant locations.
Definitely time to start thinking about how you can best utilise smartphone technology for your business. If not to implement straight away, at least start planning for the fast approaching future!
The Strategic Type