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Express exec: Center mobile around context

AUSTIN, TX ? An Express executive at the Mobile Shopping Fall Summit said that the brand views mobile as how it relates to consumer context and stretches across all of the company?s mediums.

During the ?Customer Behavior and Your Mobile Strategy ? Assessing How One Drives The Other? panel, executives from Southwest Airlines, Mutual Mobile, Express and Mobile Marketer spoke about how mobile is fundamentally shifting how brands and retailers service their consumers. The session was moderated by Amy Romagnoli, head of mobile commerce business at Barclaycard, Wilmington, DE.

?The way that we look at mobile is really in the context of how our customer is interacting with us ? whether that be at home, in our store, couch surfing or snacking on content while waiting for a train or bus ? we are trying to take into account the context that they are using their device,? said Eric Gohs, director of online marketing at Express, Columbus, OH.

?So with that it goes across everything we do with paid-search programs, social media programs, email marketing programs ? all take mobile into account,? he said.

Multichannel mobile
Mobile is increasingly intersecting with all mediums. The key to tapping into the use case of this though is to understand the context that each medium is being used.

For instance, Mr. Gohs said that during television?s prime time Express ramps up its mobile paid search initiatives on tablets since consumers are often using their devices to actively search while on their devices. Then during mid-day, mobile search gets scaled down.

Email also requires a different thought process with mobile. Per the exec, the brand sees a high number of open rates happening on mobile devices. This dictates what time the company sends emails.

For instance, catching a consumer while they are on a lunch break in the middle of the day can be effective at not only increasing open rates but also leading to an email-driven action.

The majority of Express? mobile marketing drives in-store action.

Additionally, Express is active in display mobile advertising. In many cases, the click-through might not be the brand?s mobile site. Instead, features such as swipable galleries also play an important role in letting consumers snack on content.

With a larger percentage of social media activity happening on mobile devices, making sure that content leads to an optimized experience is key.

Instead of focusing solely on sales, Mr. Gohs said that he views the next phase on mobile as being about the non-transactional experience.

Fly on mobile
Kendall Ramirez, director of customer experience marketing at Southwest Airlines, Dallas, TX, said that the company has focused mobile initiatives around both driving bookings and helping streamline the traveling process.

In particular, catering to consumers at the airplane gate can be a particularly strong place to help consumers traveling.

Mobile becomes a mini kiosk for consumers.

Ms. Ramirez said that 70 percent of Southwest planes will be equipped with Wi-Fi by the end of the year, showing how travelers are tethered to their mobile devices.

Eighty-six percent of Southwest?s bookings are made online.

When it comes to the most important features, flight check and status rank as the most used, per Ms. Ramirez.

It is no longer enough in mobile just to simply mobilize a company?s Web presence.

?Now we are thinking of it more to enhance the entire customer experience, so certainly you can go online and purchase but there is so much more to it,? Ms. Ramirez said.

Turning the needle
According to Mickey Alam Khan, editor in chief of Mobile Marketer, Mobile Commerce Daily and Luxury Daily, New York, four main industries have been affected by mobile ? retail, content and news, travel and entertainment.

Mobile is changing the ways that consumers interact with traditional PC Web activities such as music, searching, reading news and watching videos.

Mobile is making content fluidly transition between mediums.

Retailers including Walmart, Target and Best Buy are all developing mobile strategies to combat showrooming where consumers walk into stores to comparison shop. Amazon?s leg up in mobile is convenience and sets the bar for retailers.

Additionally, more retailers are ramping up mobile internally within their teams, such as Target.

Starbucks is an example of a brand that has fundamentally changed the ways that consumers think about mobile. By creating a frictionless experience, Starbucks is changing the ways that consumers think about mobile payments.

?The consumer is already mobile ? there is no question of whether you should be on mobile of if the customer is there ? the customer is there,? Mr. Alam Khan said.

?Mobile is about the ultimate freedom ? the customer does not want any constraints,? he said.

Final Take
Lauren Johnson is associate reporter on Mobile Marketer, New York