The mobile device is such a personal communication medium that device users have a higher bar for how personalized mobile marketing is. They lose patience quickly when an offer misses the mark, especially if it misses badly. I personally have opted out of push notifications for many apps that seemed to think (consistently) that I am a 22-year-old woman instead of a 38-year-old man. (Of course, working in mobile retail as I do, I probably download and use a lot of things that 22-year-old women are using.)
But personalization is a tricky thing. Most marketers think of it as segmentation. I am going to learn as much as I can about you, including your demographics, where you live, your purchase history, your brand preferences – and then I’m going to be able to target you with messages and products that have a greater chance of converting you to purchase. But this is difficult, as I’m not always shopping for myself (in fact, most of the time I’m not). Sometimes, I splurge and buy premium. Other times I’m frugal. Life changes quickly, and frequently, causing me to constantly alter my purchase behavior.
Most of us have encountered the downside of segmentation marketing at some point. I call it “Amazon confusion.” I’ve bought so many gifts for so many different people in my family over time on Amazon that I have now rendered their recommendation engine mostly useless. It doesn’t know who I am. When I log in, I get “deals just for me” that are a frankensteinian combination of all the preferences of anyone for whom I’ve ever bought a gift. The results are often comical.
I am forgiving of this as a surf around the site while Amazon takes pot shots at me. They’re simply doing the best with what they know. But if Amazon started to send push notifications to me with these deals, I would be forced to opt out. The stakes in mobile are higher, and noise tolerance is very low.
But while mobile presents a unique problem to the segmentation-minded marketer, it also presents a unique solution. I like to refer to this as “real time marketing.” Because mobile is always on and most of the time is in its owner’s pocket or purse, it has the unique opportunity to connect to the moment. I may be a 38-year-old-man, but where is my mind right now, at this very moment? Mobile can take cues, and communicate with me in this real-time context.
This is why location-based marketing on mobile is so powerful. Location tells you – literally and figuratively – “where” the user is at that very moment. It lets you make all kinds of assumptions about intent, mood, and receptivity. Other things that are important to the real-time marketer? What time of day it is. If I scanned the UPC code of something in particular. If I added something to a shopping list or browsed a specific product page. Local news. Weather. Traffic. Pollen count.
This is the true arena of the mobile marketer. Because even if I’m a 38-year-old man it’s much more important to know that I’ve been standing inside your department store for 36 minutes and still haven’t bought one of the 4 women’s handbags I’ve browsed on your mobile app. Perhaps it’s time to trigger a 5% discount on the category pushed to my phone, or notify an associate to find me and help me. It’s not time to send me a promotion for a suit sale. That might make you seem out of touch.