Lets talk mobile messaging and marketing automation

Stop Guessing: Here's A Mobile Marketing Engagement Strategy That Works

  • 16 July 2015
  • Author: Sean Mcdonald
  • Number of views: 2751
Stop Guessing: Here's A Mobile Marketing Engagement Strategy That Works

Everyone will make it sound so easy. Build a database, send a few messages each month to your mobile database and the sales will come rolling in. In reality, it’s not that easy. And like with anything else, you need to spend some time learning how to do it properly. I assure you it’s possible. In the article below, I have shared Pete’s Ace Hardware campaign which used time sensitive offers and tips to frequently engage it’s subscribers and drive them to take action. 

Their challenge may be similar to yours. Pete's Ace Hardware is known for it’s great service, value, and the expertise and knowledge in their sector. Although, the business has enjoyed a loyal following from all the years of doing business, the owners wanted to drive new and repeat foot traffic, increase the cart size, and increase store revenue and profit. 

Sound familiar? While many businesses want the same things, Pete’s Ace Hardware wanted to stand out from local competition. In order to do so they had to appeal to existing customers, but also try new things and that’s just what they did. They deployed mobile offers and mobilized their coupon club, which attracted a younger, mobile demographic. Long story short, they went all in. While many businesses have deployed similar mobile programs, most often fail right out of the gates and this leads us to Step 1 of building a mobile engagement strategy that works.

Step 1:  Promote Your Mobile Program Through Existing Media Channels

This is seriously where most businesses fail. Not only do they not promote their program as much as they should, but they approach it as an afterthought making the mobile call-to-action a secondary mention on creative. In many cases I’ve seen, the call-to-action so buried it’s probably never seen by the customer. No wonder you have no subscribers. When looking at Pete’s Ace Hardware, they went all in and promoted through their mobile program through the following channels:

  • In-store signage including above-door banners, in-aisle signs and buttons on the shirts of all sales associates
  • Mobile display ads and mobile search/PPC advertising
  • Customer base email promotion
  • Social media advertising

Customers were able to access the mobile coupons through any of the channels above. They also allowed customers to join in various ways such as entering an SMS keyword for an individual store location (ex: Text PETES to 55155) or by scanning a mobile QR code from their smartphone. This added customers to the Pete’s Ace Hardware Mobile Club, allowing Pete’s to re-engage users with periodic coupons/offers directly on their mobile device. Here are some examples of where they promoted their program.    

So where can you promote your program? Ask  yourself the following question. “What channels/media are available to integrate the mobile CTA with?” For example you could include your mobile CTA in: 

  • Print (newspaper / magazines) 
  • Events 
  • Direct Mail 
  • Email 
  • Search 
  • Display 
  • Outdoor 
  • Broadcast TV 
  • Online 
  • Social Media 
  • In-Store

You’ll want to define your priority channels and media as you most likely won’t be able to tackle all of these at once.

Step 2: Brand Your Mobile Program and Give It An Identity

Let’s look back at the Pete’s example from above. They called their program, “Pete’s Ace Hardware Mobile Club”. Mobile Club is a common example of giving the program an identity. You’ve decided to invest in building your mobile database - why not brand it? Giving your program a brand such as the Mobile Club, Mobile VIP’s or Mobile Insiders builds credibility with your customers and makes them feel like they are a part of something special and exclusive. 

You can showcase the value of membership to your program by delivering mobile-only offers, content, access etc. Every time you promote your mobile program, you can include these benefits so that customers take notice and action. See below how Pete’s highlighted 3 reasons to join. These were mobile-only offers, meaning they weren’t being offered through other channels. You had to join the mobile program to receive them. Another good example is Hibbett Sports with their MVP Rewards & Alerts. See their graphic below where they highlight the benefits of the program so that customers know what to expect.

If you don’t make the mobile program stand out and give customers a reason to join, your program will start off on the wrong foot. This is why I say that your mobile marketing engagement strategy is very dependent upon the other channels you use to engage customers. It’s a very complimentary and can extend those channels you’ve been using the last few years into a new personalized and interactive experience with customers.

Step 3:  Give Customers A Reason To Take Action

Getting the right call-to-action is not always easy. Especially on the first try. Don’t get discouraged if you don’t see engagement right away. Adapt, optimize and try a new call-to-action after you’ve given the first one a fair chance in front of your audience. Most retailers give their customers an immediate satisfaction for joining like a $$$ OFF coupon or % off deal to get customers to opt-in. You can even tie this to a spend and get program with something like Save $10 when you spend $50.

Here is an example from Cabela’s keyword campaign they ran in-store. There was signage right at the point-of-sale where cashiers would let customers that had items over $50 know that they had saved $10. List growth spiked. 

Is your business open to incorporating sweepstakes and or /instant wins to drive list growth and engagement? If so, can look into similar programs you’ve done in the past that worked in other channels and consider mobilizing them. 

It’s important to know that incentives do not always have to be monetary. You can still win without being a discounter. Adding an immediate incentive or reward will absolutely make a difference vs offering something generic and that cannot be experienced right away. Think immediate gratification.

Step 4:  Nurture Your New Mobile Relationship From The Start

Ok, so your customer has opted-in to your new mobile program. Now what? I want you to think of your new mobile engagement strategy much like you would a new relationship. Remember the “honeymoon phase” of your relationship? Those first few weeks or months that were just so amazing? Things couldn’t be better right? That’s a lot like the relationship you’ve just started with your mobile subscribers. You have to nurture it from the beginning. A great way to do this is to create a “welcome series” similar to the way you might be doing it with your email marketing. You have a welcome series in your email marketing right? Right out of the gates you want to be delivering your first promotional opportunity immediately right after they’ve opted-in. This should be followed by a few messages over the next few weeks that sets the tone for the mobile relationship you will have with the consumer. Watch how Pep Boys just sweeps me off my feet in the first few weeks.  After this welcome period is over, you’ll move the subscriber into your main alert database. The first few weeks of your mobile engagement strategy should be like “courting”. When customers see the value early, they are much less likely to opt out. [click to tweet] A successful #mobile #engagement strategy should be like the courting period. See why here.

Step 5:  Automate For Success

Your initial “welcome series” or courting period can be completely automated. So once you identify which messages are converting and bringing customers back in or increasing their cart size, you can set this welcome series up so that every new subscriber will go through the same courting experience. If you’re using mobile only offers and codes, over time, this will allow you to forecast the incremental revenue that this program is creating. You’ll see just how these mobile offers have led to increased basket size and more visits.

Step 6:  Create Additional Opportunities To Engage, Recognize and Reward Your Best Customers

Let’s face it. The subscribers to your mobile program should be treated differently. By different, I mean special. These people have just invited you onto the most private, personal and intimate device they own. Most adults sleep within three feet of their mobile device. This relationships should not be mistreated. So don’t just stop your engagement with your first message or first contact. Your mobile engagement strategy will be more successful when you create new opportunities to engage, recognize and reward these.

Create Post-Click (Post-Tap) Experiences

Your conversation doesn’t need to end with the most recent message you’ve sent. Think about how you can bring your customers on a journey that ends in one of your other channels. Ahhhhh, the true omni-channel experience. Your mobile offer can drive traffic to your mobile landing page or website for customers to checkout using a special code.  Your message can include a link to a an offer that can be redeemed in store.  Your message can include a trivia question that reveals a new offer available in-store and online.  Your message can drive entries into a sweepstakes through a mobile optimized form or two way conversation that allows you to capture more data about your customers.  Your message can lead to a digital scratch and win game to unlock prizes. 

Step 7:  Record Your Results

You can’t do all of this work and then not track your results. You’ll want to have a few metrics you’ll be using to measure the success of your mobile engagement strategy. In most cases this won’t all be available in a nice pretty dashboard so you’ll use some sort of a spreadsheet to keep track of the following.

  • Mobile database growth
  • Opt-out rate
  • Redemption rate
  • Welcome series conversion
  • Offer specific conversion
  • Basket size lift
  • Click through rates
  • Added wallet objects
  • Redeemed wallet offers

You’ll want to keep track of this on a weekly and monthly basis to determine which offers are converting best, which might need to be updated and or removed. While you can automate some of your strategy, your mobile engagement strategy is not a “set it and forget it” initiative.

Step 8:  Optimize (AKA Rinse and Repeat)

The nice little spreadsheet that you’re using to measure your success will help you optimize over time. While you’re watching your campaign results week to week and month to month, you’ll want to revisit the strategy every 90 days. In your week to week reports you may see campaigns performing better than others, but you need some time to determine if it’s a keeper or something you’ll need to optimize. Set 90 day milestones to revisit and optimize your overall messaging strategy including the offers you’re using, incentives, the welcome series and how you’re promoting your program throughout new and existing channels.


It may take you a little time to build your first plan that delivers consistent and repeatable results. If you possibly can, use a mobile marketing expert first to help you iron our the cracks and bumps of your campaign. Commit to following your strategy for a few months until you start seeing any real results, which may not be all that impressive to start with. Trust me though, if you keep at it for 6-12 months, you will seeing some great results as your mobile program grows in subscribers.

Let’s quickly look back at Pete’s.

They saw some quick wins in the first 14 days of their campaign. For example their mobile coupon campaign resulted in:

  • Over 13x return on investment
  • 49% mobile coupon redemption rate
  • 411% increase in average customer cart size
  • 36% click-through rate from deal slider to actual coupons
  • 190+ new members signed up to Pete’s local Mobile Coupon Club with less than 1% unsubscribed.

A great start right? The interesting part is that after a year of this program, they found that each new mobile subscriber was worth $427 in new sales annually. That’s just one person! Now, even if they have 1000 people in their Mobile Coupon Club, that is $427,000 in new sales a year. Not bad right?

So Let's Jump Back to You

Remember, right now you’re investing your time and resources so that you can get those results. Keep that in mind in the months ahead. Before you do that, tell me how getting more store visitors and increasing your basket size from mobile marketing engagement is working for you right now. Leave a comment below, and let me know how you'll be revising or creating your mobile engagement strategy.

Rate this article:
No rating

9 comments on article "Stop Guessing: Here's A Mobile Marketing Engagement Strategy That Works"


7/18/2015 4:20 AM

Thanks for writing such a detailed blog post. This type of information is much needed and very helpful for me. I'll be referring to it as I work on s couple projects for clients.


7/22/2015 5:54 PM

Anybody that is still on the fence as to whether mobile works needs to get a clue. The train has already left the station and is another example of consumers embracing mobile engagement.

Brent Rodriguez

12/1/2015 10:22 PM

What a descriptive post is this! This is authentically great research, I have ever seen. Really incredible writing. I would like to say "Thank You" for this post. It's really fabulous.

Bart De Pelsmaeker

1/12/2016 12:11 PM

Thanks for the insightful piece Sean Lots of great tips in here. Particularly love "Mobile VIPs." Enjoyed that so much I quoted it in a roundup piece quoting mobile marketing thought leaders.

Thanks for sharing!

Ananya Vadapally

3/8/2017 3:18 AM

Very informative article Sean

Rochell Marco

3/22/2017 2:22 AM

Valuable thoughts! I think, this mobile engagement strategy work, if we work according these steps. Great effort to explain it in very easy way.

Rochell Marco

4/3/2017 12:09 AM

As we all know that today mobile users are increasing day by day due to the advanced technology. Mobile engagement is very important, if you want to promote your business. Interesting topic that you have picked. You must continue your writing. I am sure, you have a

huge readers’ base already!

Lenin Zapata

4/4/2017 11:26 AM

I have seen that there is something more to attract customers with your article, thank you very much is very useful.


9/21/2017 12:01 AM

Thanks for the great article.

Please login or register to post comments.


No content

A problem occurred while loading content.

Previous Next

Boost your leads in 30 days

Step behind the curtain and see step-by-step how we create lead and sales explosions for business marketers:

how to