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Apple Pay and Passbook

(Image of the Apple Passbook with some examples of the types of items that can be stored within it, including credit and debit card data)

It can be increasingly difficult for organizations to compete for voice within the current marketing landscape. With consumers who are constantly plugged into the smartphones and other mobile devices, being exposed to a near endless stream of information through websites and social media applications it’s difficult to be able to rise above the noise. In our continuingly cluttered and data bombarded lives it’s possible to receive something of clear value to us such as a coupon for a product/service that we have a need for and fail to use it because it wasn’t immediately viable to do so and then later on we simply forgot about the offering. As a marketer, when an opportunity to secure a customer is on the line would you want to have that opportunity’s success be predicated on how well organized your potential customers are? Or how likely they are to make an association in their mind between a value offering (i.e. a coupon) and a related event (such as walking by the store or visiting the ecommerce site that the coupon is for) when such a moment presents itself? Most likely you’d prefer to take chance out of the equation and when leveraged correctly as a marketer digital wallet technology may help to do just that.

An interesting article in Fortune discusses the potential that Apple Pay and Passbook software have for digital marketers. For those unfamiliar with either or both of these applications, the Apple Passbook software has been around since 2012 and allows users to store items such as coupons, tickets, and loyalty cards in digital form on their iPhones (Google Wallet is a similar product for phones that use the Android Operating System) in a way that’s easy to organize and access. Apple Pay, which is set to be released in October 2014, allows individuals to use their iPhones to make payments with their credit or debit cards by accessing the related information being held within the Passbook. For consumers the combination of these two products means it’s easier to manage coupons, loyalty cards, debit/credit cards, etc. and use them to make the redemption and purchasing experience a more seamless one.

Within the digital space the integration of mobile payment systems within a digital wallet means that it’s easier to help turn promotions and other value offerings into sales by leveraging the power of integrated data and convenience. With GPS tracking services such as the iBeacon (to learn more about the iBeacon, beacons in general, and their potential uses check out this article) a person on their way to the mall can receive a notification that they have a coupon for an Old Navy clothing item that they had received weeks before. At this point they may decide to make their way over to the store to pick out an item. Because of these technologies they are able to easily redeem the coupon and make a payment all using one device. Without the ability to store the coupon digitally and receive a notification at an appropriate time the purchase may not have occurred or could have been further delayed and potentially made without redemption of the coupon. In any of those scenarios there’s the potential for some value for the consumer and/or the related company to be lost.

Taking the scenario above one step further imagine if one of Old Navy’s competitors provided a similar offering, but through the mail in the form of a physical coupon. The consumer may have clipped that coupon and kept it in their home with the intent of using it for the same type of purchase, but simply forgot about it at the time of their trip to the mall. In this scenario Old Navy has not only captured a sale, but outflanked one of their competitors and potentially helped increase the likelihood that consumer will purchase future items from them as opposed to the competition. For marketers, the fact that this information all lives digitally also means there’s a wealth of valuable data available to them to analyze to determine the effectiveness of their offerings.

More consumers are expected to leverage digital wallets such as the Apple Passbook as their use with mobile payment systems such as Apply Pay become more common and the technology becomes more advanced. As a marketer right now one easy to way help take advantage of these trends is to make it easier for consumers to take the promotions being offered through the myriad of channels that might be used to deliver them (Text, Email, Web, Mobile, etc.) and make sure that the offers can easily be placed within a digital wallet. For instance, by providing a button or link with each option that allows the offer to be placed within a digital wallet.

Marketers need to be increasingly aware of the customer’s journey as it moves both through digital and physical spaces and a significant consideration in this regard is how to leverage technology to make the journey easier and more enjoyable.

From a marketing management perspective here are some questions to consider:

  • Given that this combination of technologies (digital wallet and mobile payment capabilities) is relatively new as a marketer would you choose to adopt them now or wait longer? Does your decision depend on the industry and if so why?
  • How would you measure the effectiveness of a campaign that leveraged the Apple Passbook and Apple Pay applications?
  • Think of an example of a creative way that a marketer could use these technologies (Apple Passbook, iBeacon, and Apple Pay) along with data stored internally for that marketer’s company and online (Social Media Sites, Customer Loyalty Programs, CRM Systems, etc.) to develop promotions that would drive sales? Assume that all of these technologies and sources of data could be used together without limitations.