MarTech Advisor: Capitalizing on Mobile Moments with Sophie Vu, CMO at Vibes

July 21, 2017 Vibes

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This article was originally published in MarTech Advisor and is republished here with permission. By Ginger Conlon, Contributing Editor, MarTech Advisor.

View entire interview here:

Sophie delves into the importance of seamless, frictionless interactions in today’s always-on era, why marketers need to simplify their overly complex loyalty programs and how mobile wallet not mobile apps can be the better touchpoint for brands to relevantly engage with their consumers.

Ginger Conlon:

Hello and welcome to MarTech Advisors executive interview series. I’m Ginger Conlon a Contributing Editor to MarTech Advisor and joining us today is Sophie Vu who is CMO of Vibes. Welcome Sophie!

Sophie Vu:

Hi Ginger! Happy to be here.

Q: Ginger Conlon:

So glad you’re here with us today. We are going to talk about trends and opportunities with mobile marketing, which of course is a hugely hot topic. Before we jump into that let’s start by briefly introducing Vibes. Tell us a little bit about Vibes and what makes it unique?

A: Sophie Vu:

So Vibes enables brand marketers to deliver compelling and profitable mobile conversations through our mobile engagement platform and what that means is that we’ve generated more than 232 million dollars in revenue for some of our top ten retail customers and that I think makes us unique. Not a lot of companies or technologies can claim these types of business outcomes.

Q: Ginger Conlon:

Absolutely. Wow, that’s great! Well, let’s talk about mobile marketing. So obviously marketers are using mobile for all different types of engagements, you know from SMS to in-app to the gamut. What’s more of an opportunity that you see for using mobile marketing that perhaps marketers are overlooking that could really make a significant positive impact?

A: Sophie Vu:

Right! So beyond the kind of the technologies around mobile marketing, as you mentioned SMS and wallet and so forth, it is really around the concept of Loyalty! Customer Loyalty, Brand Loyalty. If an area is implemented correctly you can breathe everlasting life into a brand and as you know we focus on brand. As a CMO you need to ask yourself, “am I leaving the door open for my competitor to take my customer? Am I falling short of rewarding my customer for their patronage?” You know keeping market share is equally as important as not losing market share. With seeing many brands just focus primarily on marketing to new customers that they then lose focus on the current customers. So they never truly give them a net gain because they’re always filling the funnel to make up for their customer loss. This is where a solid loyalty strategy can help give a brand net new customers and true customer longevity.

So making it simple to join a loyalty program is one challenge and paramount to the growth of a brand program. So if you’re using manual processes like you know pen and paper or even you know redirecting your customers to your website or to an app, you’re really doing them a disservice. We live in an always-on era and people expect seamless and frictionless interactions. So, there’s a potential to basically seem like that process and in truth only a small percentage of people actually do follow up and sign up for your loyalty programs if you redirect them. So our suggestion is

like Apple Wallet or Android pay. So it’s all about keeping it simple and making it easy.

Q: Ginger Conlon:

Absolutely! You know I think that’s also true in general when you make it easy to do business with you in any way, you’re more likely to keep your customers, right? So that’s a great approach. So in terms of challenges what you mentioned one in terms of specifically for loyalty programs getting people to sign on if they have to change channels but in terms of mobile marketing in particular, what’s the common challenge that you’re seeing and how can marketers overcome that?

A: Sophie Vu:

So, I think just thinking how marketers think about mobile in general is a challenge, right? They think of it as its own channel. It’s separate from email, it’s separate from direct mail, it’s separate from you know point-of-sale, I like to call it a medium. Mobile is that interface between you and the consumer, right?  All the other channels that you’re using are being fed and being served through the mobile device, so you know being able to rethink that experience that a consumer has with their mobile device is one step towards you know keeping it from thinking just as being a separate mobile channel and then you know, marketers also forget that consumers don’t think of you as separate siloed channels, right? Like for example Nordstrom, they don’t think of you,  “Oh I’m Nordstrom email, Oh I’m Nordstrom website, Oh I’m Nordstrom app, they think of you as Nordstrom, right?” So you have to act as one brand voice across all the channels that you serve.

Q: Ginger Conlon:

Yeah absolutely! So, is there an area that is currently under-utilized in terms of mobile marketing where if marketers focused a little bit more on that area it can really you know see kind of significant gains and what will those gains be?

A: Sophie Vu:

Sure! So, you know everybody we went through a period where it was all about apps, apps, apps, right? Unless you’re Starbucks for example, or Amazon, nobody’s really going to download 30 to 40 different apps from all different types of stores, right? There’s a sense of frequency that’s required and loyalty that drives mobile app downloads. So I think another way to kind of get around that is to use mobile wallet. Mobile wallet is kind of lightweight, gateway to, linking all your existing channels as I mentioned email, SMS, in-store processes with something that can live on a person’s device, that can also be updated, it can send notifications, it can also get dynamic content so that you can have a point. t can also be location-based so if it knows that you’re in the vicinity of a store it can notify you of an offer, so I think mobile wallet is an untapped resource for brands to engage better with their consumers.

Think of it beyond just a mobile boarding pass, right, and payment you can do a lot of engagement and interaction through the mobile wallet.

Ginger Conlon:

That’s excellent. Nice. I think a lot of people do think of mobile wallet as just a way to pay and not really as robust as what you described.

Sophie Vu:

That’s right!

Q: Ginger Conlon:

Yeah. So that approach makes me think about the customer experience and you talked about loyalty and how all that comes together, customer experience is such a hot topic today. What do you think marketers should be doing in terms of these areas that you mentioned, to help improve the customer experience?

A: Sophie Vu:

Sure! So I think I’d use maybe an overused term but frictionless, and customers have been trained and have certain expectations that you know things need to work seamlessly, you know with mobile, with social, they know that marketers and brands have a lot of data on them right, on where you are, what you buy, how often you buy, what your preferences are, so you know, how does that help a brand create a customer experience that enables consumers to value them and drive loyalty, back to loyalty again? So for example, mobile marketing, we’ve seen our subscriber base and our client base being able to increase spend with their subscribers more than $15, for example, just by engaging with them through mobile marketing.

Q: Ginger Conlon:

That’s significant well. So let’s get a little bit into the weeds and talk about processes because one of the great things about technologies is they help marketers with efficiency and effectiveness. So what advice do you have for marketers in terms of using mobile technologies to help improve their processes and anything that they you know maybe are already getting right that they should kind of keep doing or do better?

A: Sophie Vu:

Sure. First off, I always believe technology should not hinder you or prevent you from doing what you need to do to create a great customer experience, right? So, as a marketer you’re always looking for technologies and solutions that enable you to do the job that you want to do, nobody sets out to provide bad customer service, nobody sets out to spam people, or you know send out personal personalized emails that call you “first name”, so I think not realizing that consumers have been trained to have these certain expectations, as a consumer, you have to be quick, you have to be there, you have to be useful, you have to do all three of these things to create this personalized experience and so I would think that you know, what we can learn from this is just learning from our clients. Back to kind of the unique value profit vibes that we generated over two hundred and thirty-two million dollars in revenue for our top ten retailers in 2016 alone. And how do you create that value is that you create this compelling experience in a way that drives your business goals.

Q: Ginger Conlon:

All right! So let’s wrap up with a look forward, what is exciting you right now in two areas, one is what’s coming up in the market maybe a tool or trend that you’re excited about and in terms of Vibes any new features or upgrades we should be watching for?

A: Sophie Vu:

Sure! So I think there’s unfortunately a lot of people who are not as physically social anymore. You find we’re all very digitally social! You go to a party or you go any venue people are on their mobile devices, and for example, I text my mother, I don’t even call her anymore right? It’s this how do we be efficient. I mean I rather text than even have in-person meetings. So I think marketing we are seeing chat bots for example, with natural learning and artificial intelligence you know,

In terms of Vibes, I talk about messaging, there’s a renaissance in messaging now, right? I remember when there was AOL Messenger and Yahoo, and all these other kind of instant messaging devices that was going to kill email, kill SMS. Well, guess what, SMS is still around and messaging is making a comeback. You’ve got things like Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, WeChat, so for Vibes it’s about us supporting those new messaging platforms and being able to let brands have the technology to engage with their consumers wherever they are.

Ginger Conlon:

That sounds great. That’s so important today because that’s what consumers expect.

Ginger Conlon:

Well, Sophie thank you so much for all the great insight and for being here with us today and I want to thank everyone who’s joined us on the video and remind everyone Sophie and I had another great conversation about what it takes to succeed in marketing today so I hope you’ll check out that video too and also check out and subscribe to Martech Advisor’s YouTube channel and thanks again for being here.

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