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Voice of the Customer

My company recently published statistics from some research we called Disconnected Customer Channels, which found that 90 per cent of companies want to integrate communication channels, but less than one-third have been able to do so. Not a great success rate so far, but on the bright side, it’s clear that a large majority of organisations realise they need more integrated marketing capabilities if they are going to connect effectively with today’s always-on, multi-channel customer.

Since that research, the marketing world has latched on to a new term that suitably captures the concept of what it really means to connect customer channels successfully: SoLoMo.

In case you aren’t already aware, SoLoMo is an abbreviated term for 'Social Local Mobile', which neatly encompasses both the many formats that organisations have at their disposal to engage with customers, and also the channels and methods that customers are increasingly using to communicate. Handily, Google has actually recently published some stats which show how the omni-presence of smartphones in stores is changing not only the way we shop, but how much we are likely to spend .

Highlights from their study show:

• 82% of smartphone shoppers use mobile search to help make purchase decisions

• More than 70% of smartphone shoppers use their phones in store to help with shopping.

• 1 in 3 smartphone shoppers would rather find information using their smartphone than ask a store employee. In categories like electronics and appliances, this behavior occurs for close to 50% of smartphone shoppers.

• We compared the in-store purchases of moderate and frequent smartphone users and found that basket sizes of frequent mobile shoppers were 25-50% higher. For instance, while the average appliance smartphone shopper spends $250 per shopping trip, frequent smartphone shoppers spend $350.

With the widespread use of smartphones, tablet devices and mobile applications, organisations can communicate with customers socially, taking into account their location, and offering them experiences and buying opportunities that brands have never been able to before: entertainment ideas, dining recommendations, alternate directions, retail discounts – the options are indeed plentiful.

At the moment, though, it’s hard to find examples of large organisations that actually do this well across all three areas. Google’s revamped Maps application, announced in May at their I/O conference, may actually be one of the most advanced technologies for this so far. With the new version, local search is now easier for brands, advertisers, and consumers, and specific search results can be sponsored listings or coupons from nearby businesses. Currently it is only for desktops, but Google maintains it will be available on mobile platforms soon enough, giving marketers a good tool through which they can manage fully coordinated SoLoMo marketing activities.

The general concept and benefit of connecting these three aspects to reach customers is fairly obvious. But if our previous survey on disconnected customer channels is any indicator, understanding the potential isn’t the challenge here. The questions are, are organisations ready and able to deliver these kinds of experiences, and how big of a priority is this for them?

To try and get to the bottom of how well businesses are actually prepared to execute SoLoMo strategies, we have launched a survey that specifically explores the maturity of organisations’ SoLoMo implementation strategies, investment priorities, barriers to adoption, and benefits, both for them and their customers, of better leveraging these technologies in a holistic manner.  Even in the survey’s early stages now, some trends are starting to emerge:  more than 80 percent of respondents have indicated that SoLoMo is either a key investment priority for 2013 or are now reviewing it.

We will be announcing the full results of this survey in September, but until then, we’re inviting marketers, business managers and executives of all levels and industries to take the short, 5 minute, 10 question survey and share their experiences with and expectations of SoLoMo initiatives. Take the survey at: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/PBS-SoLoMo.

Kieran Kilmartin is VP, International Marketing for Pitney Bowes Software

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