Three Ways To Win With Mobile Wallets

Columnist Adam Dorfman notes that all the pieces are in place for the mobile wallet to extend its influence on local marketing. Are you taking advantage of this new technology in your local marketing mix?


Mobile wallets — the technology inside your mobile device that includes payment software such as Apple Wallet — have realized slow but gradual adoption in the United States, but they are poised to become a huge part of digital marketing moving forward.

According to a February 2015 Forrester Research report, although only three percent of U.S. mobile phone users had accessed a mobile wallet in-store in the past three months, 15-20 percent of U.S. smartphone owners will use mobile wallets by 2018.

In the meantime, brands are getting savvier about driving more foot traffic into their storefronts by inserting offers into local search results. Mobile wallets literally hold the offers that lead to local revenue. And if mobile wallets become untethered from in-store Beacons (hinted at by Apple’s acquisition of Coherent Navigation), they will become more pervasive.

Consumer Behavior

The main reason mobile wallets will soon matter more to local search is that consumer behavior favors their convergence. As Google recently noted in a report entitled, “I-Want-to-Go-Moments: From Search to Store,” searches for products and services in one’s immediate vicinity (referred to as “near me” searches) have increased 34 times since 2011 and have nearly doubled in the last year alone.

At the same time, mobile adoption continues to rise, with 187 million Americans now owning smartphones, according to comScore. Approximately 80 percent of Google’s “near me” queries came from mobile devices in the fourth quarter of 2014. And 78 percent of mobile local searches lead to offline purchase.

Consumers are willing to use mobile wallets, too. According to mobile technology provider Vibes, more than half of consumers would like to receive mobile wallet content on a weekly basis, and 70 percent of consumers will save an offer to their mobile wallet when presented with the option. Moreover, consumers are interested in receiving a variety of content via mobile wallets. For instance, Thomas Husson of Forrester notes that “57% of US online adult smartphone users are interested in having access to loyalty program points and rewards within a mobile wallet.”


Consumer behavior is an important element of the story, but not the only one. The technology that makes mobile wallets more viable for people doing local searches is maturing.

For instance, the Apple Pay technology that powers purchase activity continues to become more prevalent. Every major credit card company supports Apple Pay, as do bellwether brands such as Disney and Whole Foods (the latter has seen its mobile payments surge by 400 percent since adopting Apple Pay).

And Apple is not the only company expanding its mobile wallet offering: Samsung and Paypal are among the other heavyweights strengthening their hold on the mobile wallets space. The mobile wallet is achieving critical mass among the companies that can make the technology more pervasive among local searchers.

How Businesses Can Win

Mobile wallets give enterprises another way to generate foot traffic in-store via the allure of an offer. Integrating mobile wallets into local search means following some time-honored practices for creating analog offers as well as taking advantage of the attributes of digital:

1. Be Useful

Enterprises can be useful by making local offers that capitalize on the context of someone’s location and variable factors such as weather conditions or time of day.

For instance, a drug store on South Beach on a hot, sunny day might offer pedestrians nearby a reminder to protect their skin from the sun, along with a 10-percent off coupon for a tube of sunscreen. By making the coupon good for a limited amount of time (say, the next hour), the enterprise can make the offer more urgent.

2. Create Offers Of Convenience

Enterprises can also create more business at the local level by making offers of convenience. After someone locates a grocery store and buys a product, naturally the store wants the shopper to become a repeat customer, which is why stores offer paper-based coupons at the point of sale. The same logic applies to mobile wallets.

However, if a customer buys a 24-pack of paper towels at a nearby grocery store, it’s not as likely that he or she will be in the mood to stock up on even more paper towels at that moment. So the store might want to make a mobile wallet offer for more paper towels, but send out the offer three weeks after the initial purchase, when it’s more convenient for the shopper to restock.

Cross-selling products and services that capitalize on location is another way to create convenience. For instance, the University of Michigan has used a mobile wallet promotion to increase concession sales at its sports venues.

3. Go Beyond The Transaction

As a Forrester’s Thomas Husson notes, mobile wallets are more than payment tools. Consumers can use them to redeem loyalty rewards, get movie tickets, use gift cards, board airplanes, and read branded content.

Brands can use them for advertising, too: Honda recently launched a promotion that uses ads placed in mobile wallets to let consumers know about its Dream Garage Sales Event. Consumers simply tap on the ads in their wallets to view them. There is no transaction involved. For Honda, the ads create awareness at the local level — and the auto maker can measure the ability of the ads to drive traffic to brick-and-mortar dealers.

Local Search + Mobile Wallet

Enterprises learn from other enterprises. Brand adoption of mobile wallets will trigger more interest. Recently, Pep Boys realized seven-figure sales results within a few months after launching a mobile marketing campaign that offered consumers deals through their mobile wallets. You can be sure other enterprises are watching these results with great interest.

The real catalyst, however, is the consumer adopting the technology and interacting with the brands. All the pieces are in place for the mobile wallet to extend its influence on local marketing.

Some opinions expressed in this article may be those of a guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land. Staff authors are listed here.

About The Author

Adam Dorfman is the Senior Vice President of Product & Technology at SIM Partners where he leads the teams responsible for the best in class local automation platform Velocity. Follow him on Twitter @phixed.

(Some images used under license from


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