by Katie Navarra
“Marketing is everything from the customer’s point of view,” explained Julie Fox, Ph.D. Program Director of Direct Marketing at Ohio State University South Centers College of Food, Ag. & Environmental Sciences – Extension & OARDC. Businesses must make information across a number of channels to meet the demands of today’s consumers. Whether, the individual is searching for a restaurant, clothing store, farm stand or farmers market, consumers expect nearly instantaneous accessibility to key information including hours of operation, contact information, driving directions and more. During the webinar, Top 10 Trends and Cool Tools in Social Media, Fox described today’s largest trends in connecting with customers.
Consumers are using multiple screens/devices to view information. The device could be an internet capable television, a desktop computer, a laptop, tablet, phone or a device built directly into their vehicle. “People may see your message on a 60 inch or 6 inch screen,” Fox explained, “90 percent of people move between devices to accomplish their goal.” “Have you viewed your website on at least one mobile device?” Fox asked, “visit howtogomo.com and type in your website and you can see how it looks on a mobile device.” If the site does not convert well, free services such as www.dudamobile.com or paid services from website design companies can assist with updating your site. A Google survey revealed that what people want most is a site that is fast loading (within 5 or 6 seconds), mobile friendly including large buttons, click to call and easy search features and designed for quick scanning with a consistent listing of name, address and phone number.
LoSoPhoMoCo what? Local Social Photo (and video) Mobile Commerce “More than 3 billion local searches are done each month for nearby products and services,” Fox explained, “91 percent of U.S. citizens have a cellphone and 25 percent are mobile-only internet users.” Mobile device users indicate the most critical information continues to be NAP + Hours (Name, Address — with GPS coordinates and Phone Number) and hours of operation. Direct click to website and click to phone call are equally as important for easy access to additional information. “Know what’s out there for your farm,” she emphasized. If the farm has moved or the phone number has changed, update old listings that include incorrect information. Check your listings on Google, Mapquest, Yahoo, Bing and Yellowpages. Each of these sites are specialized directories and likely display information about your business. Incorporating incentives such as Facebook Nearby, check-ins or giveaways are only incentives for customers if they have a value.
There’s an app for that
“Apps” are available for everything, from planning a garden to logging exercise regimes to barcode scanners, readers and more. An app may be a wise choice for your farm, but before investing in the creation of an app understand how they work. Native apps are designed to work only on one platform. For example, the Apple App Store, Google Play, Blackberry App World and others offer “apps” that can only be used on those specific devices. Web apps on the other hand are created using HTML5, Java Script or CSS web development and are accessible on any platform with modern standard compliant web browsers.
Two dimensional codes Two-dimensional (2D) codes are images/codes generated for free by online code generators. The data within these codes is then captured on a mobile device with a camera or code scanner. Included in this list are QR code (Quick Response), Microsoft Tag Manager and NFC Touchpoints (Near Field Communication). “Plan your strategy, objective and value,” Fox said, “create quality codes to deliver favorable user experiences.” Links should be short and optimized to be user friendly.
“eMarketer estimates that by 2014, U.S. adult digital coupon users will surpass 100 million,” Fox said. Farms can offer deals to customers quickly and easily via mobile devices. Incentives that encourage fan reviews and daily check-ins result in an e-mailed or text messaged coupons or deal of the day. Specialized sites such as Groupon.com and Livingsocial.com are one method for using electronic coupons to encourage repeat purchases. “Know your customers and what they want,” she emphasized, “some of these sites will charge you a fee to use the service.” Mobile commerce Mobile commerce includes three major categories: mobile e-commerce using sites such as amazon.com to transact a sale, mobile payments that use sites like PayPal or Google to conduct transactions and in-store mobile commerce that facilitates the purchase of a physical good within the store via an app that interacts with the store’s point-of-sale system. Gone are the days when accepting credit cards at farmers markets or farm stands are out of the question. “The square is a device that can be added to a tablet to accept credit card payments,” Fox said. This service charges fewer fees than traditional credit card machines. “Opt-in for text message and emails is critical, because some people have to pay per text,” she added, “be up-front with the customer with what they are getting into.”
Location based marketing
Also called geo-targeting, consumers are using devices to receive local and relevant local marketing information. The messages are delivered based on GPS, IP addresses, cookies, cell phone tower, zip codes and proximity networks. “80-90 percent of the time this doesn’t work indoors, they are looking at indoor sensors,” Fox noted.
Managing it all and the pace of change
Devices used and the information used by consumers is changing rapidly. From a business standpoint, the customer database and interactions including contact information must be updated and maintained on a regular basis. Central to being successful is developing a larger campaign strategy that fits with the business and is effective. Managing a business’ use of mobile media relies on keeping pace with changing technology and software required to operate the mobile marketing strategy. It also includes the people, policies and procedures needed to insure that the information is being used appropriately.
Ownership, privacy and trust
Issues with content ownership and privacy of consumer information is constantly being discussed. “Don’t ask people for a whole lot of information up front,” Fox suggested, “ask for a little bit and build over time to develop a level of trust.”
Where will mobile marketing be in the future? It is anyone’s guess, but with Apple’s recent development of a “smart watch” and gadgets like augmented or mediated reality glasses, the consumer’s shopping experience may be dramatically different than it is today.