Debra Sharp of VentureBeat sat down with Jesse Grittner to discuss mobile personalization in preparation for participation in a webinar being held on November 4, 2015, titled The Mobile Effect: How to Turbocharge your Personalization. Click here to learn more.


Jesse Grittner is Senior Director of Loyalty, Strategy and Analytics at Aimia, a global end-to-end loyalty management provider that’s worked with some of the world’s largest brands. He points to the check-in phenomenon that created a bit of frenzy a few years back.

For Jesse, one of the biggest pitfalls mobile marketers fall into is the “shiny penny syndrome”. It’s the idea that there’s always something new emerging in the space, with new technologies, and that marketers often jump on the newest, shiniest thing without properly evaluating its fit for their brand and marketing needs.

“It blew up with Foursquare, but I don’t think it ever took off the way some expected,” says Grittner. “You’ve got to be careful and say, ‘Is this really relevant to what we are trying to offer and what the consumer expects from us? Do we have a brand that people really want to check in with, or are we just trying to fit what we have into this new technology?'”

But the shiny penny syndrome is part of a much bigger issue: No company can do everything – even Fortune 100 companies struggle to keep up with the pace of change in marketing technology. For medium to small companies, the struggle is even greater. As we all know, there are new capabilities, new technologies, and new providers emerging all the time.

“The trick is to focus on the specific needs of your customers, and the needs you have in connecting with them – use that to guide your strategy and the partners you select,” says Grittner. “It’s a way to narrow your focus and keep your eye on what matters. That way you can stay on top of emerging trends but avoid that shiny penny syndrome – which can become expensive and distracting very quickly.”

So what does that focus look like? For Grittner, it’s about understanding the customer journey – the times, the places, and the need states in which a customer might consider your product or service. It is also critical to understand the decision criteria that consumers use when choosing to engage. When considered in these contexts, mobile can be critically important when factors such as location and proximity are at play.

But despite how influential location can be, for many companies it becomes a missed opportunity. When asked what kinds of strategies brands most often miss or undervalue, Grittner immediately points to the opt-in process – whether that be for turning on location services or for gathering consumer preferences and needs.

“If you explain why you want to know, and what you’re going to do with the information — and you can actually show you’re doing something valuable with the information — consumers will be willing to provide more than you’d expect,” says Grittner. “It’s a great way to start the relationship on the right foot and ensure it builds over time.”

Notice his emphasis on the ‘start’ of the relationship. He underlines that brands need to be keenly aware this is a journey taken together with the consumer. This is how personalization becomes truly effective.

“Just as you don’t share your most personal details with your friends when you first meet them, the relationship and trust has to build over time. The same thing is true with consumers and marketers. You want to be able to show that you take care of the information folks provide you with early on and give value back to the consumer with that information – that creates their willingness to share more over time.”

And that leads to the ultimate in mobile personalization. As Grittner says, once you have a sense of how the consumer actually thinks about your product or service, and the ways you can influence their decision, you have the best chance of finding the right opportunity to push the right kind of messaging at the right moment.

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