smartphoneWhile it’s no secret that consumers have long favored online shopping, industry reports show an increasing predilection for researching products and making purchases on mobile devices rather than desktops. A recent Forrester report revealed that mobile commerce surpassed desktops in retail traffic last year, while Prosper Mobile Insights indicates that 81% of smartphone users have done product research from their phones with 50% eventually making a purchase through the same device. Most compelling of all are the statistics on the actual sales resulting from mobile commerce: TechNavio’s analysts forecast the global m-commerce market to grow at a CAGR of 32.23 % over the period 2014-2019, while new research from Mintel narrows in on the European market to show that mobile commerce is on a steady rise in 19 countries. Indeed, Europe’s online retail sales are expected to reach €330 billion in 2019 with nearly half of these purchases made on smartphones in the UK and Italy.

The increasing consumer preference for mobile commerce therefore presents demand and opportunity for mobile marketing strategies in the context of cardlinking. In order for merchants and financial institutions alike to capitalize on this growing trend, it’s imperative to employ efficient marketing strategies which reach these consumers.

Mobilize e-mail

According to a Litmus research report, 51% of consumers check their e-mail on a smartphone or tablet, yet 80% reported deleting the email if it was hard to read or did or format properly. What message can be taken away from this? When sending emails to customers, it’s critical that the format be optimized for mobile so the message–or reward–is never lost. Use a clean, uncluttered layout, large font, and small, concisely written blocks of text instead of long paragraphs—this will dramatically improve the appearance of your email and make it easier to read. While images can enhance appearance, large image files may take too long to load. It’s wisest to keep images to a minimum and also ensure that customers can respond or navigate to a new (also mobile-optimized) page with buttons. Remember that space is limited on a mobile interface and customers are always looking to save time—so keep it simple and straightforward. To make it easy for customers to redeem awards, for example, their emails need to be easy to access.

Mobilize your website

Optimizing a website for mobile devices is just as critical. While the appearance of a mobile version website does not have to match the web version exactly, the content should be rich and not lacking in critical resources. Once again, buttons allowing the customer to make a purchase, contact the business, or link to social media should be easy to find and functional. Links are hard to click on, so they should be avoided whenever possible. Research has shown that shoppers are more likely to purchase from a brand that offers an engaging mobile experience, and keep in mind that customers often compare web and mobile versions when it comes to fostering brand loyalty.

Engage with Social Media

It’s not enough to have a business presence on social media sites. As many consumers enjoy accessing their various social media accounts from their mobile devices, businesses are poised to reach a greater audience by marketing directly to their customers through these sites and making it easy for them to leave reviews. Businesses may offer especially targeted deals to customers based on their purchase history, for example. Consumers also like to look up reviews before making purchases, with First Data reporting that 81% of smartphone users checking social media for reviews before buying. It’s therefore critical to integrate a mobile program with customer reviews and offer social media sharing buttons on mobile to facilitate mobile marketing.

Localize and Time It Right

Just as cardlinking provides tailor-made rewards for customers, localization is all about keeping the customer’s preferences and habits in mind. Businesses need to always bear in mind the language and cultural expectations of the consumer depending on their location. This can mean everything from using commonly used local/regional expressions in marketing campaigns to choosing culturally appropriate or appealing colors and even fonts (while avoiding themes that might be deemed offensive or negative, such as colors or numbers traditionally considered bad luck). These small details can eventually count on a bigger scale. Timing is just as important—when customers are sent their rewards or incentives play a big role in determining customer loyalty and retention. By tracking individual purchase history, businesses can determine the best times to send offers and communicate with their customers for optimum results.

When done right, mobile marketing strategies provide excellent ways for businesses to attract customers and optimize cardlinking. For customers to best appreciate the rewards a business has to offer, it’s important for businesses to strategize how and when to engage with their customers through mobile marketing.