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Toms Builds Mobile Success by Aiming at Top Customers

Toms.jpg

Toms, the online retailer that markets social impact along with its shoes, has found success with mobile marketing by aiming apps at the top 5 percent of its customers, according to a senior executive.

Eve Richey, vice president for global online marketing and mobile, outlined the company's mobile strategy last week at the Mobile Marketing Strategies Summit in San Francisco, which also featured presentations by Google, Facebook, LinkedIn and other companies that are vying for a share of the increasingly mobile consumer.

By ensuring its social content is relevant to its target audience, learning from other mobile apps and other tricks, she said Toms' strategy has increased its conversion rate by 85 percent while cutting the cost of engagement by two thirds. 

Social Impact

Eve Richey.jpg

Toms is building on a strongly appealing ethos of social responsibility. It donates a pair of shoes for each one it sells. Its "one for one" business model that has attracted 2.5 million followers on Twitter and a devoted legion of loyal customers.

Richey said the company aims for all generations, but focuses mainly on the 80 million members of Gen Y, sometimes called the mobile generation. Many times, that means these famously underemployed frequent-shoppers "ask their moms" to buy goods for them.

Richey outlined a multipoint strategy that begins with social media. The company has combined its social and mobile teams because, she said, social is where the mobile generation is today. "Instagram is really the sweet spot for us right now," she said.

Targeted Apps

Pointing to a graph that compared awareness and repeat customers, Richey said the company tailors unique experiences for the 5 percent of customers in the upper right quadrant and for consumers in other quadrants. It uses mobile apps to "foster relationships along the purchase cycle." For consumers who are less aware or engaged with the company's products, it relies on more traditional digital marketing, such as Google ads.

"I think the strategy of engaging your app users is really powerful," said Kristin Uttech, a professor of marketing at Madison College who was among those in attendance. "Most of the companies we've seen present here that have talked about their apps have said if you can engage those 20 percent of users in your app, those are the loyal, repeat, highest-ROI type of customers."

Uttech points out that Toms has a strong digital campaign on Facebook and other social channels already, which is a great way to encourage the installation of its mobile app.

Title image from the Toms corporate website.

 
 
 
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