The merchant is using aggregated local data and Twitter to nab customers.
Bill Siwicki , Managing Editor, Mobile Commerce
Most Walgreens stores have stands near the front door with copies of the merchant’s print circulars. Many consumers like to check out the circulars to see what’s new and what’s on sale. Now, however, customers of Walgreen Co. can receive recommendations and sales offers on their mobile phones as soon as they enter the store and check in through any of the various mobile check-in services such as foursquare or Facebook Places, or if they post a relevant tweet while shopping.
Walgreens, No. 42 in the Internet Retailer Mobile Commerce Top 300, is using technology from LocalResponse to monitor its brand name and consumer activity and respond to consumers making mention of it or related concerns in the social realm. Walgreens uses the LocalResponse platform, hosted on the web, to set the content of mobile messages.
So, for example, if a consumer checks in via foursquare at a Walgreens store and then elects to share that check-in via foursquare’s integrated Twitter sharing function, foursquare automatically posts a tweet with a Walgreens mention. LocalResponse catches the reference by monitoring mentions on Twitter and other social networks through aggregated real-time data it buys from Gnip, a data provider. Then LocalResponse sends a tweet with that consumer’s Twitter name beginning with the @ symbol and the message designated by Walgreens. 60% of consumers who check in at a location make that check-in public by sharing it via social media, LocalResponse reports, citing Gnip data.
In her account settings, a Twitter user can elect to have a text message or e-mail sent to her immediately when her @ name is mentioned. So if she checks in and shares a tweet and LocalResponse then sends a tweet with her @ name, Twitter instantly send her an e-mail or text message, which she can view on her phone, alerting her to a Walgreens special related to her location or tweet content.
LocalResponse also can catch mentions on Twitter of words and key phrases, such as “I have a cold,” and send messages accordingly. The vendor calls this monitoring sentiment. Walgreens and Halls, the company known for its cough drops, recently ran a campaign targeting Walgreens shoppers and consumers talking about colds. Whenever a relevant message was detected, LocalResponse sent out one of a number of Halls-themed messages and coupons.
“We send a public reply to users who use check-in platforms and cross publish that check-in to Twitter. The responses are nearly instant,” says Adam Kmiec, Walgreens director of social media. “For the Halls initiative we tested between five and 10 messages. We’re looking at sentiment and receptiveness to the campaign, in addition to traditional metrics like reach, clicks and redemptions. We’re pleased with the current program and have seen a more than 90% positive sentiment from our customers and redemption rates that far exceed traditional coupon programs.”
On another mobile local front, LocalResponse has debuted technology that places mobile-optimized display ads on top of Twitter feeds in the Uber Twitter app when an Uber user mentions a retailer or makes a comment relevant to a retailer. So, for example, if a consumer mentions Macy’s or tweets “I really need a new pair of jeans,” and Macy’s has a jeans sale, LocalResponse will showcase a Macy’s display ad atop the feed in Uber. Local Response creates a mobile landing page for the display ad click that includes a marketing message or coupon. Walgreens is testing this system but declined to discuss its campaigns. The vendor plans to expand its reach through other apps.
“We’re constantly looking for social signals that can help us provide value to our customers,” Kmiec says. “Signals comes from tweets, Facebook wall posts, comments on message boards, blog posts and more. Check-ins are a strong signal, because these are people who are virtually voting with their check-in and telling us, ‘I’m here and I chose Walgreens.’ We believe that we owe it to these customers to surprise and delight them. This approach has helped us more than triple our monthly check-ins. Ultimately, each of our 8,000 store locations is a neighborhood community. We can provide better value to that community and our customers when they’re checking in.”