Alex, can you tell us a bit about your background and how you came to co-found Vibes?
I always wanted to start a company. Back in college, my co-founder Jack Philbin and I realized that marketing and mobile would intersect and when they did it would fundamentally transform marketing. As soon as we graduated college we started Vibes.
As the CIO of Vibes, could you provide us with insights into the key strategies that have contributed to the company’s success in the mobile engagement space?
Our success in mobile is all about understanding what makes mobile different from other marketing channels.
Mobile is a mission-driven device – meaning you take your phone out when you have a mission to accomplish like getting a ride or checking the weather. Marketing on the phone needs to help support the end user’s mission. Bad mobile marketing is marketing that gets in the way of that mission.
The Container Store has witnessed significant growth since partnering with Vibes. Can you elaborate on the specific ways in which Vibes’ mobile engagement platform played a role in driving this growth?
Our platform was built to help our customers easily enroll their audience into a database to receive ongoing marketing text messages. We built our software to be easily compatible so it can easily be integrated with the existing technology stack. Specifically with The Container Store they deserve the credit for building their SMS subscriber base because they were the ones that promoted it to their customers.
Mobile engagement encompasses various channels like SMS, MMS, Mobile Wallet, Push Notifications, and App Inbox. How does Vibes determine which channels are most effective for a brand like The Container Store, and how do you tailor the approach accordingly?
Each mobile channel has its own strengths and weaknesses. SMS for instance, has a wide reach these days and it effectively captures the attention of the consumer. This is great when you want to get a message to someone and know that they’ve read it. However, this also comes with a risk based on the consumer expectations of today: if that message isn’t personalized to the end-consumer or it comes at the wrong time of day, it could transform from effective to irritating.
A channel like Mobile Wallet doesn’t have the reach of SMS yet, but it has more interactivity and more images so it’s a little bit more immersive than SMS. You have a little more freedom to play around with colors and images more than a simple text message.
Personalization is crucial for successful mobile marketing. How does Vibes leverage data and customer insights to deliver highly personalized messages for The Container Store’s target audience?
Our platform was designed so our customers can use the data that they have – demographic and behavioral – to personalize their content. Once a message is delivered to the subscribers, our platform reports back on how the message campaign performed and offers up AI-powered recommendations and best practices. That full circle allows our customers to learn quickly what works and doesn’t work with their customers, helping them produce more engaging messages and increase ROI.
Can you share some success stories of other brands that have experienced significant growth and success through Vibes’ mobile engagement platform?
Laying the Groundwork for Success
Even before they had an e-commerce presence or app, Hibbett had been partnering with Vibes to activate Mobile Wallet and SMS to attract new customers and engage with current ones. As a brand that’s popular among younger shoppers, Hibbett felt that mobile adoption would be key to engaging with this target demographic.
“It was imperative for us to connect to that consumer where they are,” said Sarah Sharp-Wangaard, VP, Marketing at Hibbett. “Initially, that was mostly just texts. We knew that it didn’t need to stop there.”
That early groundwork paid off. When Hibbett built their e-commerce site, they already had a solid base of mobile subscribers and were able to utilize more sophisticated mobile marketing strategies. They turned to Vibes to help them take their mobile marketing program to the next level, who developed a more mobile-unified channel strategy that would include SMS, MMS and Mobile Wallet.
Sharp-Wangaard said Hibbett was particularly interested in instant coupons, scratch-offs and fun options, like having customers use their phones’ microphones to “blow the snow” to reveal a deal. “That’s when we started looking for partners that were best-in-class like Vibes to help us reach those end goals,” she added.
As a company dedicated to helping customers get the most out of their mobile marketing campaigns, Vibes worked with Hibbett to set their marketing goals. The retailer wanted to focus on increasing high value loyalty subscribers, creating a best-in-class mobile experience through targeting and personalization, and continuing to drive acquisitions through evergreen campaigns.
Holiday promotions and reveal campaigns are strong revenue drivers for both Hibbett and City Gear brands, so the campaigns were built around both types of events.
Data security is a top concern when it comes to mobile engagement. How does Vibes ensure that customer data is protected and compliant with relevant regulations while delivering personalized messages?
Yes, data security is absolutely a top concern that we take very seriously. We pride ourselves on being SOC II type 2 compliant to help our customers stay secure with their data.
Additionally with SMS marketing you have legal and regulatory compliance that’s equally very important. From the beginning, we’ve successfully built compliance controls and procedures into our platform and we have dedicated subject matter expertise on the importance of SMS compliance, all of which helps keep our customers confident that each of their SMS campaigns are compliant.
How does Vibes foster innovation within the company to continually offer new and creative solutions to its clients?
Innovation in mobile is more than just technology based. It’s also about how you use that technology to help create value for brands.
At Vibes we think of the value first and let the technology follow. Mobile is full of shiny objects that get a lot of attention, so as true leaders in this space our job is to understand which of those technologies will truly help brands effectively communicate with their customers and maintain brand loyalty.
Once we figure out there is value in a new solution – like Mobile Wallet – it becomes our job to build software that helps our customers capitalize on that value. A lot of our time is spent filtering out new technology that may sound cool but just doesn’t create value for marketers.
As the CIO, how do you see technology evolving in the mobile engagement space, and what role does Vibes play in shaping that future?
Obviously AI will have a tremendous impact on technology and how technology is built – as mentioned we’re already using AI to inform and optimize messaging content, like when a message is sent for instance. We’re really only at the beginning of this change though, and I’m very excited to see where it takes us.
As for our role, I continue to see us as a company that thinks about the value and business use case first. That part will never change.
Lastly, how does Vibes ensure a seamless user experience for both brands and their customers throughout the mobile engagement process?
We ensure a seamless user experience by understanding the different mobile channels and what makes each channel unique and effective. No one wants to get multiple messages on their phone with the same content and it’s our job to figure out which specific channel is going to be most effective for each individual person.
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