June 23, 2009, 12:00 AM

One retailer shouts from the rooftops for a mobile Mother`s Day

1-800-Flowers.com, which sells through an m-commerce site, two mobile apps and text messages, ignited an all-out marketing and advertising explosion—web, print, TV and mobile—to get the word out on m-commerce. It paid off: mobile web sales rose 173%.

To be successful in m-commerce, a retailer has to get the word out that its mobile web site or mobile app is there and ready.

1-800-Flowers.com Inc., No. 31 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide, launched text messaging in 2006, an m-commerce site in 2007, a BlackBerry app in 2008 and an iPhone app in 2009. This year the merchant pulled out all the stops when it comes to getting the word out, pumping up its mobile marketing efforts to attract consumers to its mobile shops for Mother`s Day.

The retailer included banners and copy for its mobile site and apps in e-mail marketing. It sent out special text messages with 20%-off coupon codes to its opt-in text list members. It included mentions in newspaper and television ads and in its catalog. It ran a banner ad on its home page that directed shoppers to the App Store on iTunes where they could download the appropriate app. And it even plunged into the uncharted waters of mobile app advertising—placing ads for its mobile app within the apps of others. In these ads were coupon codes for 20% off Mother`s Day orders.

We wanted to make sure everyone was aware of our mobile opportunities, said Kevin Ranford, director of web marketing at 1-800-Flowers.com, during the M-commerce Workshop last week at this year`s Internet Retailer Conference & Exhibition. Mother`s Day gave us an opportunity to really get mobile out in front of people. And we used existing internal channels like print advertising and e-mail marketing with large budgets to help mobile. In the end we got a 42% join rate to our text message promotions list, 173% mobile sales increase year over year for the Mother`s Day period, and a 46% increase in app downloads week over week.

Regarding those mobile app ads within others` mobile apps, Ranford said there is great opportunity in this nascent field, especially because it is so early.

"Other, non-retail apps are just starting out, too, and need pilot partners," he said. "Keep an eye on BlackBerry`s App World, Apple`s App Store, the new Android Marketplace and others—you will see interesting marketing developments there in the year ahead. There are excellent opportunities right now for two companies to learn together."

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