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Sonic, REI, American Eagle drive traffic in-store via SMS alerts

Please click here to listen to the archived webinar

Sonic, REI and American Eagle Outfitters participated in a ShopAlerts pilot program where 65 percent of consumers purchased a product as a result of a text alert they received.

A Placecast executive discussed case studies and the company?s mobile strategy during a webinar moderated by Mobile Marketer?s Dan Butcher. The webinar centered around ShopAlerts, which are location-triggered text messages designed to drive opted-in consumers to a brand's retail locations.

?Brands can use [ShopAlerts] in various ways to distribute mobile coupons or to actually promote the arrival of new products in the store,? said Alistair Goodman, CEO of Placecast, San Francisco. ?Generally, what we tell brands is to take their existing marketing calendar and figure out how to extend what they?re already doing into mobile.

?Let?s take all of that and turn it into a mobile program that?s compelling,? he said. ?For brands that are particularly data driven, this is a great way to add a new source of data.?

?Today, we?re offering these programs on a retailer-by-retailer basis.?

Placecast is a location-based platform specifically designed to use digital marketing on mobile to drive consumers into physical environments using tactics such as SMS alerts trigged by geofencing.

Primary Impact provides company positioning and brand development for digital marketing startups and analyzes data sets to determine consumer marketer insights.

Retail awareness
Sonic, one of the retailers participating, used ShopAlerts to promote its ?Burger Wars.? It was promoted across the mobile Web to rewards card members, asking them to opt into an SMS program.

?Sonic used it to promote various menu items throughout the day,? Mr. Goodman said. ?The opportunity there was to really drive traffic into the stores.

?We?re now running programs for many more brands as we roll this product out,? he said.

REI used the Placecast service to reach consumers while they were hiking, biking and skiing.

The company promoted its SMS alerts across the mobile Web and through its customer email program.

American Eagle Outfitters found that its audience consisted of heavy texters, so the company decided to reach them in their favorite hangout ? the mall.

The retailer promoted text alerts across the mobile Web, in-store signage, social networks and a customer email program.

Using ShopAlerts, retailers can access a customer?s handset, extend marketing programs to customers while they are shopping and deliver relevant content and information to consumers based on time and place.

Additionally, there are custom virtual geo-fences created for any physical location. Geo-fencing strategies are also affected by several variables, including the number of locations, population density, primary modes of transportation and migration patterns.

Mr. Goodman stressed on the importance of making it easy for consumers to opt-out of the program.

?We take the view that this has to be an opt-in service and we do a double opt-in so consumers are clear about what they?re signing up for,? Mr. Goodman said. ?As long as there?s a very clear exchange of value, the privacy issues become less important. 

"When you start intruding, that?s when it becomes more problematic," he said.

Mobile alerts
In addition to Mr. Goodman, the webinar panel included Kathryn Koegel, marketing practice lead at Primary Impact, New York.

According to Ms. Koegel, 60 percent of consumers opened the ShopAlert and 75 percent rated the service somewhat to very useful.

ShopAlerts increased the likelihood to shop for 79 percent of consumers.

?The era of consumers being in control with their media experience has absolutely come about,? Ms. Koegel said. ?Consumers decide whether they watch TV, whether they skip the ad, when and when marketers are allowed to talk to them.

?I would argue that all of this media consumption changes how retails look at their marketing mix,? she said. ?Consumers are considerate shoppers ? digital media has put the consumer in charge.

?There?s a general ubiquity of phones ? people love these devices and they use them for many different things.?

Sixty-five percent of consumers purchased a product as a result of the text alert they received by the end of the trial, according to Primary Impact.

Location-based users
Location-triggering can improve the relevance of text messages so they are not perceived as intrusive by consumers who opt-in.

Seventy-two percent of consumers viewed location-based texts as positive due to increased relevance.

?Smartphones are becoming a replacement device for using something like Yellowpages,? Ms. Koegel said. ?I want to know who has the product ? is the store open, is it in stock? I use my phone for that.

?A couple of the marketers we tested with have a lot of brand-loyal consumers,? she said. ?It?s all a part of relationship-building.

?They?re really a reminder to us ? they?re a reminder that I have this relationship with a retailer.? 

Retail communication
Retailers need to test new channels of communication with customers given the shifts in consumer media usage, per Ms. Koegel.

SMS is a useful mobile marketing tactic and consumers prefer it to email.

Additionally, Placecast found that younger consumers are most receptive to SMS and that the messages have great potential as both promotional and brand-loyalty mechanisms for retailers.

According to Ms. Koegel, 82 percent of consumers use their handsets in stores.

Today, smartphones are viewed as media devices that impact retail sales ? 66 percent of consumers use their handsets to get store information, 50 percent look up product reviews, 33 percent use it for price comparison in-store and 28 percent purchase a product.

Mobile coupons are also gaining momentum.

According to a study conducted by Insight Express, 10 percent of consumers surveyed said they had visited a store due to a mobile coupon.

In addition, 45 percent of users would prefer to have coupons sent via text message, 28 percent would like to find the coupons themselves by using an application and 27 percent want to text-in to receive a coupon when they are in-store.

SMS consumers
A recent Placecast Harris Poll found that 42 percent of consumers ranging from ages 18-34 are interested in marketer texts.

Thirty-seven percent of consumers think location-based messaging could be useful, per the recent study.

?In terms of takeaways, I think we?re in a very interesting era of media,? Ms. Koegel said. ?Retailers really do need to challenge new channels of communications.

?Text-based mobile marketing is a viable tactic,? she said. ?Location triggering has been shown to improve relevance.

?We also saw that throughout the trials that we did.?

Please click here to listen to the archived webinar

Final Take