I've a confession to make. I'm no sophisticated techie and don't have more than a basic knowledge of SEM/SEO best practices among other things that are "must haves" these days if you want to be a good Marketer. I don't even own an iPhone. So that's the bad news. The good news is that I'm learning at a decent clip and I'm eager to keep learning which is why I want to chat about some really cool things I read about yesterday. I don't even know where to begin!
Well, okay, I do. Recently, I started noodling around with foursquare. It's a service which allows you to "check in" at your location and, based on where you are, you can receive tips or find out about other cool places to go that are in the vicinity. If you want, you can keep your location secret or share it with your foursquare friends as well as on Facebook or Twitter. You earn points with each "check in" or when you tell foursquare about a new place not in its list and can earn badges the more you "check in"... I used to be a Newbie but just the other day, I became an Adventurer! If you become a Mayor of your favorite spot, you can get some freebies so it pays to play, so to speak. Foursquare has partnered with major cities like Chicago, too, so I'm having loads of fun earning Chicago specific badges.
As I said, it's still new for me and I'm still trying to remember to "check in" no matter where I am so I can take advantage of the information that may be interesting or useful to me. So, of course my eyes caught this really intriguing article about mobile shopping tools by Stephanie Rosenbloom in Friday's NY Times. Want that cute outfit from Norma Kamali but the store's closed? No matter - thanks to ScanLife, you can snap a photo of the item and purchase it via your phone. There's also technology whereby you can scan the barcode while in store and info about the garment will magically appear on your phone. I'm getting the sense that it's like RedLaser, another barcode scanning app, but you intelligent readers can probably steer me in the right direction on that.
And then there's stuff like IBM's Presence which is like foursquare for grocery stores. If you sign up and walk into a participating store, you can be offered mobile coupons based on where you are in the store that may be relevant to you based on previous shopping history - almost like Catalina but way more targeted and well before checkout - and, like foursquare tips, Presence will make product recommendations or great go togethers based on what you've selected. So, if you've picked up a steak, maybe you'd love to have fries with that hence tipping you off about the russet potatoes on sale that week. Similarly, Cisco Systems has developed Mobile Concierge which will help you find the seemingly (deliberately) hidden item in the store - something we can all relate to especially at Costco!
To be sure, mobile coupons are already in use but what makes this intriguing is the "real time" aspect of all of this - almost like an instant gratification factor at play. It kind of feels like a shopping game. The article also noted that Motorola has developed an app that will completely replace loyalty programs cards and will place program specific offers and coupons on the mobile device. What's really neat is that you're not presented with coupons that aren't relevant because you don't walk down the aisles that aren't relevant to you.
My beef with grocery mailers and Catalina coupons (and sometimes loyalty programs) is that the offers are for products I would never consider buying and I've got to believe I'm not the only person who feels that way. I understand marketing to encourage sample and cross shopping but, if I've never bought dog food before, chances are I won't be buying it at least in the near term. This efficiency and precision of offer eliminates the "waste of time" factor and, because it's mobile, saves a few trees, too. What's more, the store has just racked up a little bit more shopper loyalty which will help pay for that expensive new system.
Speaking of loyalty programs and location based services like foursquare, I stumbled upon another interesting article in Ad Age. The article talked about Socialight which allows brands to create their own geo based communities with customized relevant messaging for its niche/target market. The implications here are interesting... Let's play with an example: e.l.f. cosmetics uses multiple social media tools for its marketing - it never uses traditional channels (I previously mentioned e.l.f. here). If e.l.f. were to have its own branded geo based loyalty app, you could instantly find out the closest place to find your favorite product and perhaps be surprised with a special e.l.f. coupon offer "just because" you're a part of their loyalty program. Since e.l.f. is sold at big box retailers, there can be cross shopping tie-ins offered to the customer (e.g., buy e.l.f. and get 10% off private brand XYZ item). There are a bunch of other ways to play this that I'm sure you will come up with, too.
So we've not talked about the 1,000 pound privacy gorilla just yet. On some level, this is kind of creepy - let's be honest. The creepy factor of foursquare is that everyone knows exactly where you are if you publicize your "check in" and similarly, the grocery store manager knows where you are when you stop by to get your milk and frozen pizza. If you're trying on clothes at a department store, that makes it even more odd. I'm not certain of the remedy but perhaps individuals can adjust settings on these apps to receive coupons based on past trips upon entering the store only as opposed to specific aisle location. Of course, it makes for less precise offers but at least no one will know you're spending time looking at the tabloids in the books/magazine section of the store.
As I said, there are many flavors to these new applications. Truly, the sky is the limit and I've decided to "expect the unexpected" when it comes to the mobile apps coming out over the next few years. What's your take on all of this? Send an email and let me know!
Until Next Time,