Bridging The Divide Between Offline And Online Data With Mobile

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Ad Agents"Ad Agents" is a column written by the agency-side of the digital media community.

Christy Belden is VP Media+Marketing at LeapFrog Interactive, a digital marketing agency.

We live in a myriad of systems, which interact and work with another on a continuous basis. A great example of this is ants. Ants have the ability to communicate information throughout a vast network of hundreds, even thousands, of ants to achieve a common goal. In doing so, they must take in a wide swath of information – temperature, humidity, barometric pressure, movement, smell, sound, proximity to others. They have been doing this for eons with supreme efficiency.

We live in a marketing world of disparate data. An abundance of information can be gleaned from the online world – how individuals move through the site, what sites and content they consume and where they are in the decision process. Traditional marketing gives us even less data. The most information can be gathered when a person makes a purchase, preferably with a credit card or loyalty program. With a loyalty program and/or credit card, information can be ascertained about buying behavior and purchase cycles. Unfortunately, the gap between the point of purchase and online activity is large. If a brand could pair in-store buying data with online user behavior, that brand could speak directly to a consumer. The solution to syncing offline and online data? Mobile.

At nearly every point in the in-store shopping experience, mobile technology can be used to track that customer from the store to the checkout line. Mobile can capture the offline, in-store data with a consumer’s online behavior. Through check-ins and GPS, companies can track users as they move throughout a store. In-store product pictures on a mobile phone can record what a consumer is interested in. Scanned QR codes can reflect what offers are most appealing to the consumer. Purchases can be done through an app and synced with their account.

But how can mobile help bridge the gap between offline and online? Here’s an example. An individual walks into a clothing store and checks in using the store’s app. Because the app has a login feature, which was set when the app was logged in, the brand knows now who is in the store due to account information the user filled out either over the mobile app, mobile site or online site. A bar code scanner is housed within the app and tracks what offers the consumer uses. The app also allows users to post pictures directly to the app of products they’d like to save for later or share with their social networks At this point, because you have an email address from their account login, you can send price updates to this consumer on this particular product. When it is time for a user to check out, they can either use the mobile app purchase feature or the company’s credit card. Either way, both are tied to the account login. From this point, an in-depth buying pattern can be established to send similar or complimentary product offerings.

The real magic begins when the mobile app is tied to Facebook, Twitter or other social media tools. Not only have you matched buying behavior to a person, but also you have now matched them to their social media habits. Companies can use this information to provide an extremely customized user experience around their brands.

Ants can assimilate all of the data available because they have the ability to move and collect the information they need. Mobile allows brands to collect data, and establish patterns of data, like never before. In the future, brands will be most effective when they can create highly customized engagements for their consumers. Merging offline and online data sets allows all of the information to come together to provide a unique perspective about consumers. Mobile provides the means to bring all of the data together.

Follow Christy Belden (@christy_belden), LeapFrog Interactive (@lfi), and AdExchanger (@adexchanger) on Twitter.

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