In the run-up to this past Black Friday, retailers were predicting that it would be one of the busiest on record with mobile marketing being credited for helping to deliver this pre-Christmas sales boost.
Anecdotal evidence suggests that South Africa’s own Black Friday did appear to be extremely busy compared to previous years with much more hype than we’re used to.
Indeed, normally staid local retailers with their historically-mediocre discounts of 10% to 20% really went to town on Friday, 24 November. The Game chain of stores, for one, opened some stores at 12am the Thursday before and this total commitment to the spirit of the Black Friday annual shopping extravaganza went down so well with consumers they broke down the glass doors of the Game store in Cape Town’s Canal Walk.
Things didn’t fare too well with online retailer, Takealot, either with their online shopping platform down for a good number of consecutive hours. News24 described the retailer’s woes as a total “own goal” on what’s become a very important shopping day in South Africa.
But back to the role of mobile this week. The growing importance of mobile in purchasing-based events like Black Friday is supported by figures from Google that show that 70% of customers purchasing in-store used their smart phones for research before the purchase and that mobiles have overtaken desktops and tablets as devices used for e-commerce.
So that’s the encouraging part. Unfortunately, and according to InternetRetailing.net, despite such findings, only 50% of businesses surveyed are currently using even basic mobile tools like SMS marketing as part of their marketing strategies.
Let’s conclude with a brief, very un-marketing-like reference to what Capitec did on Black Friday – this fabulous bank sent out an email to all its customers urging them not to buy things they don’t need with money they don’t have. Brilliant, bold and responsible.
When we step back from the activity-based life most of us lead nowadays, it’s amazing to think that the mobile phone as we know it is scarcely two decades old. And the smartphone, which essentially runs our lives in 2017, is about ten years old.
Cellphones used to be simply about coordinating the meeting up of people at a specific time and place. I remember in the early days of mobile in South Africa where newspaper articles used to wax lyrical about how cellphones enabled executives to call ahead if they were stuck in traffic and late for a meeting. That really was the limit of the device’s usefulness back in the day.
Today, any one of us could reel off a couple dozen or more ways cellphones touch our everyday lives and impact us and those around us for the better. However, while the mobile’s general awesomeness became immediately apparent to those early users of Motorola Star Tacs and so on, it has taken some time for the average business out there to understand how the everyday changes brought about by cellular have transformed the rules for commercial success.
According to Tom Farrell, VP of Marketing at Swrve writing in Mobile Marketing Watch, mobile is not just a change in the way in which we interact and communicate; “it often changes the nature of products or services themselves. We do everything from book trips to play games to sell clothing totally differently than we used to, so the old ways of measuring what makes a product ‘good’ don’t apply anymore.”
The message from Tom and his clever colleagues out there in the developed world is that if you’re still using traditional metrics in the age of mobile, you might be falling behind.
Tom says, “Consider the metric of engagement, or in plain English, the amount of time each specific user spends in your app. More time is better, right? Well…actually, no.”
He believes in many cases it is a very bad thing and if you unthinkingly prioritise an increase in engagement, the chances are that you may be making a grave mistake.
The engagement process into 2018 needs to be as simple, intuitive and quick as possible. Businesses can accomplish this by creating, building and designing for the native mobile audience. To do this, consider partnering with a native mobile specialist!