MMA NY Forum

Part of the Thorn Technologies team took a trip to the Big Apple last week to attend the Mobile Marketing Association’s (MMA) New York Forum. Like all of the MMA conferences, this was a super educational event where we learned about the latest mobile technologies and techniques brands are using to engage with their customers and prospects. Here are some of the key takeaways from the event.

Maximize the Mobile Moment

What really resonated at MMA Forum was the responsibility of the industry to maximize the “mobile moment.” It’s obvious that we’re all spending more and more time on our phones, regardless of whether we’re on the road or in our living rooms. Our phone is no longer the 2nd screen; it has essentially replaced TV as the 1st screen.

That being said, the industry is looking to preserve the value of this channel by building meaningful relationships with customers and prospects and really understanding how they are using mobile. Because mobile has so much impact on our everyday lives, brands need to strike that fine balance of using the medium to engage without being overbearing.

In essence, marketers need to offer solutions that will make our lives better and build products and programs that will enhance our lives on the move. If a marketer is not providing entertainment, productivity, or utility through their offerings, they need to go back to the drawing board.

Messaging: The Power of Push and In-app Inboxes

Another hot topic was push notifications. The effectiveness of push has been well documented, as some brands have doubled retention rates for their downloadable apps.

But to achieve these gains, marketers must assure that they deliver relevant and timely content that inspires, stimulates and drives further engagement with the brand. Great examples include timely deal notifications or a push notification for users to fill out surveys for feedback and data capture. On the other hand, “dud” push notifications that aren’t relevant can certainly harm a brand’s relationship with the user.

In-app inboxes are a also growing trend as email open rates continue to decline. Getting blasted by traditional emails from brands may turn consumers off, but they may be more willing to read informational messages within the dedicated space of an in-app inbox. Brands are recognizing that an in-app message may be a better alternative to an email for information that is not necessarily push notification-worthy.

Mobile Wallet – Hype or Reality?

Mobile payments is a topic that is written about in tech publications daily. Even though huge players like Apple, Google and PayPal are furiously fighting to win the space, consumer adoption has been minimal so far. The mobile wallet was discussed in-depth during a panel that included representatives from Vibes, Isis Mobile, and Forrester Research.

The issue with paying for goods with your mobile phone is that it’s not really solving a big problem; paying for clothes at Macy’s or household items at Walmart with a credit card isn’t that much of a pain point. But the key to adoption is educating consumers on the additional benefits that using a mobile wallet can provide in addition to execution of transactions. These can include:

  • Delivery of geo-tagged offers and coupons if the user is in the vicinity of a store
  • Access to price comparisons against competitors
  • Ability to make reservations and pre-order goods
  • Many other benefits

The mobile wallet can be a seamless opportunity to engage consumers throughout the entire purchase cycle, instead of only at the very end. It can be a source of differentiation as long as the user experience is simple and seamless.

The Potential of iBeacons and How They Work

Mobile location-based services are becoming increasingly important for marketers to target customers with relevant messaging, and one of the hottest technologies in this space is the iBeacon. We learned how these beacons actually worked and how retailers can leverage this technology.

Technically, beacons create an Indoor Positioning System (IPS) using Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE), which can interact with mobile phones in a range of 50-70 meters and use 40% less energy than wifi. Beacons are supported by both Android and IOS but Bluetooth must be activated on the device (studies show ~30% of devices are typically enabled).

Apparently, fewer than 1% of national retailers are using beacons today, but the benefits the technology can provide make the potential growth of this number immense. This technology allows retailers to engage visitors as they walk by or into stores. While many retailers use beacons to deliver real-time offers to visitors as they walk by certain products or store sections, they can also be used to identify how visitors path through the stores and investigate where foot traffic congregates. Additionally, beacons help bridge the gap between online and offline behavior.

Powerful stuff.

There was a ton of excellent content at the MMA NY Forum but these were the takeaways that resonated most with us. What do you think about these trends and topics? We’d love to hear from you in the comments.

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Image courtesy of the Mobile Marketing Association.

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