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There are five zones of the consumer’s retail journey that we’ve identified. You can read more about all of the zones here. Out of those zones, we think Zone 4—the “engage” zone—provides a huge opportunity to provide meaningful experiences through mobile engagement for opt-in shoppers.

Why is mobile engagement so important?

As an emerging consumer touch point, many retailers and brands are struggling with how to use mobile engagement to effectively enhance in-store experiences, but the rules are becoming clearer every day.

Four rules for nailing the “Engage Zone”

Like Zone 3 (the “Experience Zone”), Zone 4 is more active than tactics like POP. True to its name, it invites the customer to engage with the product and learn more about the brand. It’s a signal that calls out “Bing! You’re in the right area, but take a closer look at….”

Before you associate this with an ever-intrusive paper clip with weird eyebrows in the corner of your computer screen (R.I.P. Clippy), it’s important to remember that this zone is for opt-in shoppers. They are still in control, and are either actively searching for these experiences or have agreed to at least consider them.

There are several ways to activate mobile engagement at retail, such as beacons, NFC interaction, QR codes, and text short codes. No matter which technical tactic you use, though, these rules remain the same.

Rule #1. Remember, shoppers opt-in for options.

Shoppers have opted in by downloading a beacon app or interacting with NFC because they want more options. With Apple’s recent news of opening up NFC on iPhones—the impact of which we examined here—the NFC crowd will get exponentially larger and provide bigger opportunities to engage. If your content or experience does not offer anything more than what can be learned on packaging or POP, it’s a Zone 4 fail.

Rule #2. Make it useful. NOW.

Offering a deal that requires a change of location or future event isn’t useful for shoppers. Provide something that benefits them right then and there. You could run a quick, hour-long flash sale for everyone in the store through a short code text promotion. You could also have NFC tags that deliver instant discounts. Whatever you do, make sure you include an incentive to motivate purchase or provide information that is immediately useful, such as product reviews, instant savings, or loyalty rewards.

Rule #3. Personalize for individual sets of eyes.

Individual shoppers have different barriers to purchase. Brands can tailor Zone 4 content specifically to a consumer according to their mobile preferences, engaging shoppers in more personalized and valuable ways. For instance, a shopper with an iOS device and another with an Android™ device would likely have different objections to overcome while shopping for a companion tablet. You could also provide offers and giveaways based on city or region, further personalizing the engagement experience.

Rule #4. Work with the retailer.

More than 80 percent of retailers say Zone 4 investments would help them serve customers more personally, though only 18 percent say they are “extremely happy” with current personalized marketing efforts.

Retailers know their customers and have been training them to respond to certain incentives for years. No matter which Zone 4 approach you propose, the retailer team will have valuable insights about what will work best for their shoppers.

The number of shoppers who engage with mobile at retail is growing at astounding rates, along with the number who agree to let your brand begin the conversation actively. This should be any marketer’s dream. If done correctly, you could be setting your brand up for success in the brick-and-mortar-meets-mobile era.