3 Ways to Engage With Consumers This Summer

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Ah! Summer is a week away!

You’ve waited all year for the sunshine and warmer weather, but the long days and weekend barbeques will soon be a distant memory.

I thought this winter was never going to end, but thankfully it did and I am ready to enjoy the heat.  We only have a couple of months to enjoy it before we start sending our children off to their first day of Kindergarten, or packing up their cars and sending them on their way to college.  Nonetheless, we are now standing at the edge of the back-to-school shopping pool, and both consumers and retailers are itching to jump in faster than ever(hopefully without their phones in their pockets).

In between flipping burgers and reapplying sunblock, your (would-be) customers are on their smartphones looking for anything that will help them shop better, become more informed and connect to brands in a more meaningful way.  There’s a lot more to mobile than ads, and if you want to be their back to school choice, you’re going to have to think beyond the tiny box at the bottom of their screen.

1. Bring enough for everyone and remember to share.
It may be tough as a retailer to focus your mobile efforts on anything other than shopping and buying, but the truth is, consumers use mobile devices to connect, engage, discover new things, and be entertained—which means there’s huge potential to engage with them outside of the shopping cart. Think back to school shopping lists, dorm decorating guides, study music, how-to videos, or any other branded (or non-branded) content, and the like. Retail giant Target used a mobile campaign integrated with it’s commercial spots and in-store promos to give customers a free song download. By telling users to call  starstar-red-13TARGET, consumers who called instantly received a text to download the catchy Ula Ula by Illya Kuryakiand the Valderramas. It became one of the “it” songs of the summer of 2013, and Target saw its customer engagement levels quadruple.

2. Make new friends, and be social!
71% of users are accessing social networks from mobile devices, which means there’s room for you in the social equation. You can do so by creating ways for students, teachers, and parents to generate their own shareable, custom content.  For example, students could share their swanky dorm setup, parents could share that embarrassing first day of school photo, while teachers could share their new innovative project ideas. All of this allows them to play an essential role in spreading the word about a broader campaign, in real time—across social media and beyond. In fact, Dove brought a Times Square billboard to life with users’ participation. A simple mobile prompt to call  starstar-red-13DOVE on the billboard encouraged passersby to share pictures of themselves on social media via their mobile devices. In doing so, these new fans could see their pictures appear on the advertisement in real time. They didn’t just socialize with the brand, they became a part of it.

3. Everyone loves a good party favor.
Mobile-only promotions are the perfect way to reward dedicated shoppers, get them excited about new campaigns and products, and spur the intent to purchase. When they know it’s exclusive, the intent to buy becomes a lot higher. Victoria’s Secret PINK gave its mobile application users exclusive access to the “Ultimate Shopping Night,” an in-store back-to-school event at 300 stores across the country. Loyal fans were invited to the August event via push notification in mid-July, and then directed to an in-app landing page that used geo-locating capabilities to identify the nearest Victoria’s Secret store. Mobile content not only promoted the event, but also the brand’s loyalty program and connected to event messaging on social media.