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Mobile technology strategy, whether it’s launching an app or initiating a coupon program, is a bit trickier for some retailers due to regulatory oversight. Yet there are best practices and approaches that can, and do, work when it comes to spurring the browsing consumer into becoming a buying consumer.

For one thing it often requires a big leap of faith to move from the traditional and “what you know,” to a vibrant mobile-based program, acknowledged Tod Szewczyk, VP, director of emerging technology and innovation at Leo Burnett.

Szewczyk, along with Jennifer Bowser, mobile product manager, ebusiness marketing, for Allstate Insurance, and Sharon Eagle, digital activation manager for Beam Suntory, shared insights and lessons learned regarding their efforts with mobile coupons and fostering brand loyalty, during a session at Net World Media Group’s CONNECT Mobile Innovation Summit held in Chicago Aug. 15 -17. The session was moderated by Kane McCord, COO, Ibotta.

Noting the regulatory climate regarding insurance companies, Bowser said its challenges aren’t preventing Allstate from moving forward with mobile technology to boost customer experience. The first tough step, she said, is that many retailers and companies aren’t sure how to engage, but she said finding that path “is huge” in eventually reaching overall success.

The insurance company is using mobile optimization tools to gather insight on potential customer needs and wants, such as information about what motivates a customer to move from online research to calling an agent.Allstate is also enriching its content to provide in-depth information, via a blog, to help educate both potential clients and current customers.

At Beam Suntory, the world’s third top spirits company, the focus is on testing social media approaches within the regulatory requirements. Owned by Suntory Holdings Limited, Beam Suntory’s portfolio features brands, such as Jim Beam, Maker’s Mark, and Knob Creek bourbons, along with Yamazaki, Hakushu and Hibiki Japanese whiskies, as well as Canadian Club whiskey, Courvoisier cognac, Pinnacle vodka, and Midori liqueur.

In a nutshell, the panel experts said the goal is to use social and mobile tools to both drive purchasing activity, as well as gain insight on what customers want and expect from the retailer.

Allstate is also using mobile tools to streamline client processes, such as reducing a 15-page data form to five pages, that can also be accessed and completed on a mobile device.

“We are a bit limited due to regulatory rules,” acknowledged Bowser. Yet, there are plenty of opportunities to use such tools to help the customer experience. The top use for Allstate’s app at this point is to pay bills. But the goal is also for the app to spur deeper loyalty.

“A big concern for us is to retain customers,” said Bowser, noting that this is even more difficult with younger consumers, who are much more inclined to jump off an app than those who are older.

“We’re creating mobile moments to help keep us top of mind,” she said. One example is providing app users with info such as gas prices and weather reports, which provide additional value to the app user.

The liquor industry faces a very similar challenge in engaging with users, as liquor consumers tend to flock to brands on a pricing basis.

Such tools are allowing Beam Suntory to test and market various product offers to specific consumer segments in order to make sure marketing efforts are hitting the sweet spot. The company is also doing more experiential initiatives, such as events and virtual reality experiences like touring a historic distillery.

“It’s hard to get true loyal consumers so we start giving them experiences,” explained Eagle.

Judy Mottl

Judy Mottl is an experienced editor, reporter and blogger who has worked for top media including AOL, InformationWeek and InternetNews. She’s written everything from breaking news to in-depth trends. She loves a great pitch so email here, follow on Twitter and connect on LinkedIn.

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