Express Opts for Rich Media Messaging to Boost Sales | MMA Global

Express Opts for Rich Media Messaging to Boost Sales

January 16, 2014

Express Opts for Rich Media Messaging to Boost Sales
Mashable, December 17, 2013

Strong sales over the holiday season can make or break a year. Standing out from the crowd becomes even more important in a year like 2013, when 
Morgan Stanley has projected retail sales to be the weakest since 2008.

Capturing the attention of potential customers is what every marketer strives to do. For their part, customers seem equally adept at tuning out unwanted advertising. But engaging and relevant content is often welcome by discerning consumers. This is the line Express is trying to walk with its rich media messaging campaign around the company’s Passbook of Savings, an annual coupon book to encourage shoppers to return throughout the season. This year, the retail company created a digital version of the offering that centered around rich media messaging. The campaign supported Black Friday efforts and ran from Nov. 12 to Dec. 3.; users opted in on a landing page and received eight messages throughout the campaign.

Rich media messaging is a format pioneered by Iris Mobile. With an RMM, campaign content is tailored to the particulars of a customer's device — think of it as a coupon with responsive design. When a customer opts in, the software communicates with the handset to determine what combination of media to send. At a minimum, there are different sizes of image and text based on the phone's size. The software will also calibrate add-ons depending on the mobile device, so links won't be sent to phones without Internet access and images will automatically resize. Since Passbook is a feature found only on iOS devices, consumers won't receive a Passbook prompt unless they're using an iPhone or iPad. Social sharing options, on the other hand, are available in almost every message. Express promoted the Pass Book of Savings (PBOS) in stores and online, with calls to action directing customers to opt in through their phones. While a physical book could be picked up in-store, only the mobile campaign had access to all the promotions.

 “We're really focused on using that mobile component to drive traffic, in store or online,” says Shalini Gupta, Iris Mobile's Director of Client Services.

Because phones are such a personal medium, more care has to be taken to get permission and really provide value to the customer, or else the consumer will opt out. Holiday deals, however, tend to be welcome by consumers. Rich Media Messaging can be a potent tool for brands, especially in retail, to maintain a valuable connection to their customers. "We don’t buy clothes every day, but we have to maintain this relationship," says Cezar Kolodziej, president and CEO of Iris Mobile. Even though consumers might not buy from a brand every day, frequent interactions over a long-term basis mean your brand will be the first company that comes to mind when the consumer decides to make a purchase.

Though mobile messaging can be perceived as invasive and brands should tread lightly, the added TLC pays off — open rates are five times higher for mobile messaging than for traditional email marketing, says Kolodziej, and the opt-out rates are lower than for traditional text message campaigns. Plus, because the coupon stays on the phone, there's no need to follow a link to get to the promotion at the point of sale, making redemption seamless on the customer's end.

One of the main KPIs a brand analyzes for a RMM campaign is open rates, which so far have been "excellent" for the Express campaign. Social shares and click-through rates are also tracked, and the coupons include unique codes so Express knows how many offers are redeemed. Iris says 35% of consumers who are sent a rich media message go on to make a purchase, either online or in-store, while average redemption rates for traditional SMS messages are 16%.

Aside from directly driving sales through the holiday season, an RMM campaign is a valuable source of data for potential customers. Once users opt in, brands can tailor content and target its messaging to improve the campaign's efficacy. Therefore, RMM clients have access to analytics that aren't available in other messaging channels, and as the Metrics That Matter series has illustrated thus far, data is money. Of course, that data needs to be combined with an understanding of consumer behavior to best market to your audience and drive ROI.

"It's the innovation piece. It’s not just simply sending the image. It's being smart about how we're communicating with the audience," says Gupta.

Express' Black Friday campaign was just one part of the brand's mobile efforts, which includes an app that offers mobile payment via a digital version of the company's Express Next credit card.

Has your business tried an RMM campaign? Tell us about your experience in the comments.