Ami Upton, Associate Director, on How Brands Can Cut Through the Clutter
When Ami Upton joined the Customer Success Team at Vibes a few years ago, she’d been working in strategic event management with a focus on building engagement and brand loyalty. Despite the differences in mobile technology, she found a lot of overlap from her previous experience in her role in Customer Success at Vibes.
At Vibes, she found herself asking her clients and her team: “What is the overall goal of the program? What is the customer journey? What pieces of communication are the most relevant to deliver?”
Since then, she’s risen the ranks to become an Associate Director on the Business Outcomes Team. She’s still asking those questions as she works with CMOs to create mobile strategies and checks in weekly and monthly to ensure that they’re meeting their goals.
We sat down with Ami to discuss challenges brands are facing, and how mobile is countering those issues.
Q: What do you believe to be the biggest challenge that brands are facing today?
A: Plain and simple: clutter.
It’s the over-messaging that consumers are facing everywhere they go.
I recently purchased a plastic container at the hardware store. On the label of the container, there was a promotion encouraging shoppers to download a free app.
Why would I need an app for my storage container?
This example goes to show how brands are missing the mark and inundating consumers with too many marketing messages on too many channels.
As a result of this over saturation of messages, brands struggle finding ways to deliver relevant information that the consumer is actually going to see, first of all, and second, relevant information that encourages them to engage with your brand.
Q: What do you recommend to help them face these challenges? How does mobile play a vital role?
A: Brands must understand the customer’s interactions and experience. For retail brands, they need to have a solid understanding of how shoppers are finding and interacting with the brand. They need to know what shoppers are doing online, and what types of messages compel them to make a purchase.
In-store, retail brands need to understand what the shopping experience is like. When shoppers enter a store, are they greeted by an associate? What signage do they see while standing in line? Is there appropriate store signage to alert them to special offers and promotions? In the fitting room, does anyone offer to help? Is there a decal on the mirror explaining the benefits of joining the text club ($10 off purchase)? At the register, what’s the experience like to redeem a text offer? Is the associate knowledgeable about how to redeem it?
For brands that are already leveraging mobile marketing, they need to continually fine-tune that mobile strategy to ensure that they constantly offer value and relevant content. For brands that aren’t yet using mobile, they need to understand how mobile can help the consumer in the moment. Brands can encourage shoppers to sign up for text messages to receive an offer on that day’s purchase or send a follow up text after purchase (free coffee on next visit).
Q: As a consumer, what do you prefer/want from a brand? What marketing strategies or tactics entice you in your lifestyle?
A: I love getting a text reminder of an upcoming appointment, as well as a follow up text with a thank you for coming in, a summary of the visit, or an offer for next time. It makes me feel like I’m valued by the brand. It makes me want to continue to do business with them.
For loyalty programs I’m a member of, I like getting text reminders to redeem offers or notifications that rewards are expiring soon. I want the brand to make it easy for me.
But I also want relevant information.
When I’m providing my information, I’m accepting that they have that information and that they’re using it to give me relevant marketing. If I always purchases jeans, I would love to get an offer for 30% off jeans, as an example, or details on a new launch of a category that I regularly purchase.
Q: As you've been in the mobile space for several years, what have you seen to be the biggest accomplishment? Where do you see the industry headed?
A: By far, seeing brands figure out how to leverage mobile wallet offers has been the biggest accomplishment in the industry in the past two years. Airlines, retailers, restaurants, and other brands are latching on to mobile wallet in major ways. It’s easy for consumers to have offers in their pocket.
I’ve also seen brands learn how to target and personalize messaging. People now expect mobile messages to be tailored, and because technology has evolved past a machine sending the same message to each subscriber, brands can now create 1:1 messaging with personalized content.
In the near future, I see artificial intelligence taking a more prevalent role, especially in SMS/MMS. Brands can set up what feels more like a conversation with a friend, where a subscriber can interact with a brand, and even view merchandise or place an order via text.
Q: What types of programs excite you? How do you build that growing relationship with Vibes customers?
A: Any program that brings value to the end consumer excites me, as well as solving a problem or adding value that can lead to future purchases or engagement.
Mobile bridges that engagement gap.
I focus on building trusting relationships with our clients. Because I work from ground zero to set up clients with their mobile marketing campaigns, I'm involved with identifying goals and challenges to create an initial strategy. I look at performance each month and identify ways to improve results.
My team and I also leverage what we see in the market and in the Vibes Mobile Engagement Platform, including NLP and Conversational Analytics as part of Vibes Advanced Analytics. Using real-time data, A/B testing, and behavior insights, my team and I continue to target and hone in on personalization for best results.
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