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It’s Time to Get Serious About Mobile Wallets: Q&A with Vibes VP Mark Tack

By Brent Leary | @brentleary

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, as 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. Mark Tack, vice president of marketing for mobile marketing technology company Vibes, recently shared with me why it’s time for businesses of all sizes to go beyond the idea of payments, and focusing on owning the whole mobile wallet.

How are mobile payments starting to morph into mobile wallets?

Mark Tack: 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 started as a payment application, and then 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.  

How are mobile wallets starting to set up as a mobile marketing platform?

Mark Tack: 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.

So, the idea of a mobile marketing platform is to keep their attention and make sure you have it at the right time?

Mark Tack:  We all want our experiences and our lives to be simplified. 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 saying, ‘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. As these examples show, providing more experiences through their phone is the way to stay connected with customers.  And that goes beyond doing transactions. AT

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