When Apple Pay was announced as part of the iPhone 6 rollout last year, it accelerated the adoption of mobile payments’ march to the consumer. But mobile payments is just part of the mobile wallets equation, which Mark Tack, Vice President of Marketing for mobile marketing technology company Vibes, says holds the key in turning mobile phones into full-fledged engagement platforms.
Tack shares how Apple Passbook, Google Wallet, iBeacons and other technologies are helping companies go beyond doing transactions over the phone, to creating full-blown experiences that cross the customer engagement life cycle. (This transcript has been edited for publication. To hear audio of the full interview, click on the audio player at the end of this article.)
Small Business Trends: Give me a little bit of your personal background.
Mark Tack: I’ve always been in entrepreneurial marketing roles helping to create new markets, and help marketers seize new opportunities. So I’ve always been in and around the marketing ecosystem, and the digital marketing ecosystem.
Small Business Trends: Tell us a little bit about Vibes.
Mark: We’ve been around for nearly 17 years and have a platform called Catapult that helps marketers manage all their mobile touch points across the various mobile marketing channels. And one of the hottest areas right now is around mobile wallets, and managing content in Apple Passbook and Google Wallet.
Small Business Trends: How are mobile payments starting to morph into mobile wallets?
Mark: A lot of people, when they hear the term mobile wallet, think payments first. But Apple first introduced Passbook in September 2012 as a non-payment application pre-installed on the iPhone. So Passbook was all about helping the customer shop easier by mobilizing coupons, offers and loyalty cards. It wasn’t until recently, when Apple introduced Apple Pay, that actual payment functionality was brought to the iPhone.
On the other side, Google Wallet has been on the market for quite some time. Its evolution is actually the opposite of Apple. It started as a payment application, and then Google introduced the non-payment functionality in September 2013. And when the Google Wallet app was updated, they added functionality for offers and loyalty cards and all those non-payment sites.
Our clients have been most excited about the non-payment opportunity and how marketers can leverage these apps that come pre-installed on the phone, to engage with their customers. And we’re starting to see the market identify this as a new marketing channel.
When you think about the customer journey, the customer is getting organized for their shopping experience before they ever make it in the store. And then, of course, at the register, they make that transaction. That’s only one part of the customer journey.
After they leave the store, as marketers, we’re trying to figure out how do we get them back in the store and how do we build that ongoing loyalty. So the payment piece is only one sliver of it. But mobile wallets can be used to help marketers connect with their customers before, during and after that experience which really extends the opportunity for the marketer.
Small Business Trends: But now mobile wallets are starting to set up as a mobile marketing platform, all around customer engagement.
Mark: What our customers are finding is if you get the customer to save content on their phone, it becomes one of the most valuable experiences you can deliver as a marketer. So what’s emerging here is this concept of mobile wallets becoming marketing platforms. It’s really about activating all other forms of marketing with the mobile wallet.
For example, one of our clients is Men’s Warehouse, and through all of 2014 they were adding a big button on all their emails that said, save this offer to your phone. They found a 10-times increase in in-store redemptions with the save to phone functionality.
So for them, it was a dramatic difference between having it and not, and it’s all about getting the customer to save that content on their phone.
Small Business Trends: So the idea of a mobile marketing platform is to keep their attention and make sure you have it at the right time?
Mark: Our phones are becoming the closet at home that just continues to have more and more items piled up in it. And none of us want that. We all want our experiences and our lives to be simplified. So what the mobile wallet does is take all those paper coupons and those plastic loyalty cards and it allows the consumer to mobilize that content and get it on the phone.
Now the other source of convenience is around location. Once you save a coupon to Passbook, and then walk past a retail store, you’re going to have a subtle reminder on your phone. And your iPhone’s going to say, ‘remember two weeks ago when you were on Pep Boys mobile website and you decided to save that coupon for 50 percent off your next oil change? Well there’s a Pep Boys right across the street. You may want to go in there right now and redeem that.’
Pep Boys was actually a real example I just talked you through. They saw a 30 percent in-store redemption rate once the customer saves that content on their phone. That is extremely high.
Small Business Trends: How does your service work with a service like Adobe’s marketing cloud to get a 360 degree view of a customer in order to engage them over the mobile device.
Mark: In the mobile channel, we are collecting a lot of data that’s unique to the mobile user. But the real power comes in when we align and connect that data with other sources. So it could be a retailer or brand CRM system. It could be through the partnership that we have with Adobe that we announced last Monday. And there’s a variety of ways that retailers of brands can bring their data sets together to create that unified view of the customer.
Tying it back to mobile wallet, our clients having the most success with their wallet campaigns are the ones that deliver content that’s unique to a person. If you know that Mark Tack is an avid fisherman, and I grew up in Iowa and I’m a big Iowa Hawkeyes fan, that content that you deliver me is going to have way more odds of me paying attention to it if it’s relevant for me.
And we do have some customers starting to really deliver content that is one-to-one personalization at scale. And it really does start with getting that data set combined.
Small Business Trends: Where can people learn more about what you guys are doing with Vibes, and mobile wallets?
Mark: Our website has a variety of resources at Vibes.com.
This is part of the One-on-One Interview series with thought leaders. The transcript has been edited for publication. If it's an audio or video interview, click on the embedded player above, or subscribe via iTunes or via Stitcher.