This article was originally written for, and appeared in, Fashion’s Collective (www.fashionscollective.com)
Establishing consumer relationships through mobile marketing, as with any successful, productive relationship, inherently requires a mutual exchange of value. Whether consumers are opting-in for brand communications via SMS or engaging with the brand in a single instance through scanning a QR code, the onus is on the brand to deliver value in return for customers’ valuable time and information. Without the perception that value has been exchanged for value, the relationship becomes essentially one-sided and unrequited attempts at interaction on the part of the consumer will spell the end of the relationship – perhaps permanently.
In the early stages of mobile marketing, the value exchange was almost exclusively defined through promotional-based marketing. Consumers were asked to share their mobile numbers in exchange for coupons. While seemingly primitive by today’s standards, text back couponing remains an effective behavior stimulus for many brands and retailers, but for luxury brands discounting flies in the face of the intrinsic value of the brand. The challenge for innovative prestige brands is defining how best to create a true value exchange with their most loyal advocates while remaining true to themselves and not cheapening the brand in the process of attempting to deepen relationships.
Any value exchange requires the exchange of currency. Whether the currency is monetary, emotional, or informational, it establishes the parameters necessary to define a successful exchange and secures a commitment to future exchanges. With this in mind, an analysis of the efficacy of any value exchange must be measured by the mutually beneficial exchange of mobile currency.
Affluent loyalists of prestigious brands seek greater intimacy with, and priority access to, the brands they most covet. In exchange for priority access, the affluent consumer will exchange premium monetary currency. A mobile campaign touchpoint that directs the consumer to an optimized landing page or microsite featuring a product exclusive to mobile subscribers effectively plays marionette with the heartstrings of affluent consumers by exclusively engaging a prestigious audience with exclusivity and access to product available only to a select audience. Tactics such as these create a successful value exchange whereby a monetary commitment is made by the consumer in exchange for priority access to the brand and the prestige associated with exclusive ownership.
The essence of any coveted brand is the story it conveys. The rich heritage and tradition of the brand is infused with creative vision and continued innovation as the brand narrative unfolds across mediums to engage consumers and create a vision of a lifestyle to be aspired to and desired. Traditionally the brand narrative has been told in a unidirectional fashion through artfully produced photography and film, but the consumer was only capable of experiencing the story in a disconnected way. Mobile, as a medium, is innately transitive in nature, serving as a persistent interface for consumers to navigate an ever-evolving digital ecosystem of retail touchpoints and become, themselves, players in the storytelling experience. Strategically dissecting the brand narrative to take on an episodic form allows the brand to engage audiences in the on-going drama, create desire to see where the story will lead, and create deeper emotional connections in the process. Whether bringing still imagery to digital life through QR codes or augmented reality, targeting desired audiences and engaging them with rich mobile display advertising, or consistently communicating emotional currency via SMS marketing, the mobile value exchange is successful in the exchange of permission to communicate with highly-valued consumers in return for deeper levels of involvement and engagement with the brand.
Regardless the strategies or technologies employed, successful mobile marketing relies heavily on a fair and evenly balanced value exchange between consumer and brand. Given the intensely personal nature of smart devices, coupled with the fact that the device is nearly always within arm’s reach, it is more important in mobile marketing to avoid being intrusive and irrelevant. Consumers will not give up their valuable information in exchange for clutter or noise. Focus on an understanding of the currency of mobile marketing and utilize it to create an exchange that delights both the audience and the brand that value them.