TARGET: New Mobile Coupon. Save up to $5.25 on Pizza, Candy, Crackers and more. Visit target.com/save Msg&data rates may apply
Target is again assuming I buy food at my local store. Right now their SMS campaign is 0-2 with me in March. This discount is again super-generic and non-specific… therefore the call to action is a total non-starter with me. The link is dead again, and I am still not going to take the time to type a URL in my mobile Web browser for the promise of maybe saving $5.25 if I buy pizza, candy AND crackers at Target (something I do not usually do).
There is an acknowledged disconnect between the online version of Target’s brand and the offline, retail version. The problem is that Target is making the assumption that customers see their brand as two entities when they really don’t. The customer is in charge. Given that reality, marketers – especially retail marketers – must choose how to best utilize its benefits. While Target has used the media to announce its intention to target coupons to customers, this ability should have been in place from day one. Segmenting from day one is possible if a more complete direct digital marketing perspective is used while developing the campaign.
When launching a campaign like Target’s, brands must consider lessons in Expectations Management 101 – a fictitious idea for a college marketing class I think should be woven into the curriculum. If Target announces they are delivering mobile coupons… deliver mobile coupons in an easy convenient way. Build an online customer preference center so a customer can communicate essential information like zip code and buying habits either on the mobile Web or the Web. Build segments and empower customers from the start. Direct digital marketing excels at connecting channels and unifying a brand experience according to what the customer is already expecting.
Here is where a long, slow transition may be in store for marketing professionals and big box retailers. Historically software vendor selection is done by the same group that evaluates advertising agencies, for example. But the criteria for a good advertising agency – and the “pitch” process – should be far different for an agency versus a software provider. A good agency can be selected on how well it makes a product or brand look and feel, while a software provider must be selected on campaign performance and execution. If the criterion for an agency is used to evaluate a software vendor, the relationship is doomed within the first three months… and vice versa.
This underlying principle extends to the creative execution, too, not just message delivery. Ad agencies write brilliant copy (have you seen Subaru’s new “Parade” spot?), but that copy does not always translate well into a text message in a mobile campaign. Saving $5.25 on random, non-branded food items does not get me to head to Target. And, even if I did go to Target based on that message, how can the sales lift be measured?
Scanning bar codes (if I ever receive a coupon that’s worth my time to redeem) is a very attractive idea for me as a consumer. But marketing basics still apply – give me a good offer with copy or content that suits the delivery channel (in this case mobile). Launching a campaign without those primary elements aligned can actually do more brand harm than good.