Home Depot has long been among the most active retailers in expanding into mobile, aiming to capitalize on the increasingly crucial role it plays in
linking online and in-store shopping.
Trish Mueller, the company’s chief marketing officer, on Thursday discussed the home improvement chain’s mobile initiatives at the Mobile Marketing Association’s Forum New York conference. The company’s efforts are guided by the goals of ensuring that mobile services are personalized and adding value to the shopping experience.
It applies those core principles across six types of mobile functions: the Web, apps, search, social media, email, and advertising. Mueller noted that Home Depot’s mobile-optimized site and apps provide access to the 400,000 different product types available online -- far more than the 35,000 in physical stores.
About a third of Home Depot’s traffic last year came through mobile; the company is making an effort to place an equal emphasis on both the mobile Web and apps. The company also extended its Buy Online program to the app side and to in-store search.
Given the cavernous size of many Home Depot locations, its main app features an interior map for each of its 2,000 stores, along with voice-activated assistance (think Siri), a barcode scanner and detailed product information. To date, the app has been downloaded 3.5 million times, with Mueller pointing out that the company has had success getting people to sign up for push notifications.
“On Black Friday, our traffic to the app was up 60% because people responded to these messages,” she said.
When it comes to Augmented Reality (AR) technology, Mueller said Home Depot is still experimenting. For now, shoppers can use an AR offering that allows them to see what a landscaped area would look like. She added that AR would be rolled out category by category, where it makes sense.
In terms of mobile search, Home Depot has seen its ROI surpass that of desktop search. About half of Home Depot’s searches are local.
In the social realm, Mueller was bullish on Twitter, calling the microblogging service “a new horizon in terms of information and connectivity for consumers, more so than other social platforms.” Home Depot has recently tested pushing tweets to mobile users based on relevant Twitter conversations, even if they are not marked with a hashtag.
That might involve sending a tweet about paint products if someone tweeted about having to paint their kitchen. Mueller said engagement has been 40% higher with such tweets in mobile than on the desktop. Home Depot has also run a test campaign with Foursquare, which she described as somewhere between “great and a failure.”
The CMO sounded a more positive note on mobile display advertising, which she said was especially effective when timed appropriately and geographically targeted. Home Depot’s mobile ads have made use of gamification tactics to boost interaction.
Last month, Home Depot signed with the Weather Company as the first marketer to take advantage of a new Twitter video offering. The retailer is integrating its “Project of the Week” videos within the tweets, which can be targeted by location, passions and other characteristics.
Mueller added that Home Depot is overall ramping up spending on mobile video -- increasing investment fourfold from last year -- as well as expanding advertising to digital audio sites, such as Pandora.