Despite offering clear benefits in the tracking and targeting of marketing campaigns, uptake of mobile marketing technology has been slower than marketers and technology specialists initially predicted.

Interestingly though, it’s traditional institutions such as universities rather than retailers who are beginning to lead the way.

The benefits of mobile are easy to explain; brands, retailers and marketers can reach customers wherever they are, in real time, and get an in-depth profile of individuals’ purchasing habits. This gives marketers analysis of each customer’s actions in response to a mobile marketing campaign allowing them to make subsequent offers extremely targeted.

We know that high street sales have been in decline since the start of the recession and often internet retailers are considered to have performed better. This is partly because they have long had access to the type of customer insight that mobile is now offering bricks and mortar stores.

Despite this, many retailers still haven’t embraced mobile. It’s possible that they are waiting for Near Field Communications (NFC) in smartphones to become more widely available. The reality is that retailers don’t have to wait for NFC, other systems can replicate what it does now, on any smartphone and waiting could mean they’re left behind.

One example of an area which has seen a more rapid uptake of mobile marketing systems is within ‘closed user groups’. These closed groups of customers, for example students attending university, have more readily taken to mobile marketing especially when their university has taken ownership of the system.

There are a number of factors involved in this. One is the longevity of the relationship with the user. Students know that the relationship they have with their university is going to last for a number of years.

Secondly, those within a closed user group receive a variety of offers from their university. These aren’t just limited to cafes or shops directly linked to the university, local retailers can also distribute through the same system or app. Customers are much more likely to download a single app which gives them a wealth of deals rather than many apps for each individual retailer.

In addition, a closed user group has defined parameters, creating a specific consumer base for marketers to target with rewards and deals. They can make their deals even more targeted for the audience.

In fact, those using mobile in this way can increase redemption rates on their offers to above 40 per cent as their deals become more targeted. This dwarfs redemption rates of traditional paper-based marketing campaigns which offer very little in the way of customer insight.

High street retailers could learn some valuable lessons from the way closed user groups are implementing mobile technology. University bars and cafes are using mobile to drive sales through customer insight and targeted marketing campaigns. By opting in to this type of mobile marketing now, high street stores will find that they’re able to set themselves apart from their competitors and begin to level the playing field with internet retailers.

John Barratt

John Barratt