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Mobile marketing strategy isn't a bolt-on to existing strategy

Too often, companies falter in their marketing strategies by tacking mobility onto what they already do. Instead, you should create 'mobile moments.'

Marketers understand that mobile marketing poses new challenges, but many view it as a bolt-on to their existing strategies. However, a mobile marketing strategy shouldn't be an add-on: It should be an entirely different way of engaging with customers and prospects.

According to Forrester Research, 200 million smartphones are in use in the U.S. today, so the mobile opportunity is real. That's the good news. The bad news is that many companies have yet to harness the power of mobile marketing. Too often, a mobile marketing strategy consists of creating mobile versions of websites and email messages and jumping into mobile search. Others think that mobile success is driven by mobile push messages promoting special offers. In fact, a sound mobile strategy is not about moving to mobile. Rather, it's about harnessing the vast power of mobile.

Mobile marketing requires a different approach from traditional Web-based marketing. Yes, mobile is part of your broader marketing strategy -- so your mobile strategy should support business, marketing and sales goals. And mobile systems must tie into your other CRM and marketing systems, so you can coordinate prospect and customer interactions across all touch points -- from mobile to social to email to a company's website and so on, which is the vision of omnichannel CRM. But there's more. Let's look at some of the drivers.

There are hundreds of mobile opportunities, daily

Mobile marketers have a variety of options with which to reach customers and prospects, including smartphone apps; mobile messaging, comprised of text, images or videos; scannable quick-response codes; and yes, websites optimized for mobile.

Smartphone apps are powerful because they allow more data capture and a more tailored user experience.

"Smartphone owners pick up or glance at their mobile phones 150 to 200 times each day," according to Forrester Research, "spending on average over two hours a day accessing apps and websites. With more than 200 million smartphones in the U.S. alone, that's 30 billion mobile moments each day, conservatively." Forrester adds that 75% of those moments are momentary glances to check appointments or learn of a sale that just started.

These mobile interactions can take place anywhere and at any time -- from a person's home to a store to an office. And even for B2B, that means that your prospects may be interacting with your company or brand anywhere, anytime. These interactions no longer take place just while customers are sitting at their desks. Instead prospects and customers are interacting with your company first thing in the morning, while commuting to work, between meetings, sitting at their desk, researching a product while standing in a retail store aisle or while waiting in the checkout line, or at home in the evening.

"Think about the power of this device," Avinash Kaushik, digital marketing evangelist at Google, said. "You can be closer to your clients ... [because] the device is always on their body or within arm's reach." At the same time, companies have to craft mobile strategies that don't treat mobile moments the same as their laptop counterparts or even the same as one another. Consider, too, that a mobile moment while a consumer is getting ready for work may differ from one while he is at his desk checking an app, checking out his perks in a loyalty program and so on. Smartphone apps are powerful because they allow more data capture and a more tailored user experience. "Mobile apps provide a greater opportunity for customer relationships and intimacy than on the Web," Gail Ennis, chief strategy and marketing officer at FollowAnalytics, said.

At the same time, mobile apps can be difficult to find in crowded app stores, studies indicate that consumers use only a small fraction of the apps they download. According to Quixey, only 12% of 1,059 respondents would prefer to download an app, even if they could get all the features and functionality of an app without having to download it. In the same survey, half of respondents dislike using mobile apps for two primary reasons: They chew up device storage (26.1%) or are slow and have inconsistent performance (23.6%). Again, mobile marketing needs to take a mobile-first approach to make these apps compelling, easy to use and the first choice for consumers rather than a necessary evil to get loyalty points, special deals and so on. Companies need to address these issues to get consumers to embrace mobile apps, to trust them and to use them in greater numbers.  

Mobile moments, not campaigns

So how can you stop tacking on mobile marketing to an existing marketing strategy? To start, think about "mobile moments," not outbound campaigns. Your mobile marketing strategy should have these characteristics:

  • Always on. Enable interactions at all times of the day, not just when you have a specific marketing campaign.
  • Context- and location-aware. Know where the consumer is, what they are doing and respond accordingly. For example, cosmetics retailer Sephora's mobile app lets shoppers see items in their account's shopping cart, and scan bar codes to instantly see product reviews. And beacon technology lets them share special offers with customers who have entered their stores.
  • Aware of consumer intent. Understand and respond to what the customer intends to do: are they researching an upcoming purchase, making a purchase, looking for help post-purchase?
  • Delivering value added mobile experiences. Don't sell. Rather, help the prospect or customer to accomplish a task or goal. Your mobile app becomes an extension of your product as much as it is a marketing tool. If you don't provide value, people won't use it.

As Chuck Martin said in The Third Screen: The Ultimate Guide to Mobile Marketing, ask, "What does your product or service do for consumers, and how can you encapsulate that value in a mobile website or a branded app? Is there a logical brand extension that customers can use?" Columbia Sportswear, an apparel company, developed its GPS PAL app to help users track adventures, which provides added value, not just another avenue with which to purchase products. With this kind of move, Columbia begins to look more like a lifestyle company, not just a company providing commerce on a mobile app.

  • Simple and fast. Streamline interactions as much as possible. For example, prepopulate form fields, only ask for the most important information and so on. Make sure that alert messages are short and content is snackable.
  • Segments of one. Mobile enables marketers to target users individually based on a variety of data, including user demographics, behavior, intent and location. Savvy marketers use all of this data to provide a true one-to-one experience that best meets the needs and interests of the customer.

A platform to manage mobile engagement

Similar to traditional marketing automation, several platforms are beginning to emerge to automate mobile marketing. It's interesting to note that these platforms do many of the same things that traditional marketing automation platforms do -- but are closely tailored to the needs of the mobile marketer. No one platform does everything required, but many offer common functions such as these, according to Forrester Research:

  • CRM and other integration. Ensures a continuous experience across all channels and interactions.
  • Targeting. Enables the marketer to create and market to segments based on various criteria such as purchase history, demographics, in-app engagement and more.
  • User identity. May capture data for an anonymous profile that can later be connected to a specific person once he or she become known through a login, email and so on. Connects all information about a user throughout devices.
  • Campaign metrics. Includes initial engagement metrics such as open rates, interactions such as app opens and click-through rates, and more.
  • Channel optimization. May automatically deliver messages and interactions across different media. Forrester cites the example of an abandoned cart within an app triggering a discount email.
  • In-app analytics. Tracks user actions through the app to optimize campaigns or improve user experience.
  • Location. Captures and uses GPS, Wi-Fi, beacon and other location data to trigger actions, for example, based on where a user is located within a store.
  • Multivariate testing. Tests for the optimal personalization, time of day, or creative content in messages.
  • Raw data collection and export. Collects and exports raw data for use by third-party analytics tools.

Crawl, walk, run

With so many choices, how do you begin? Start simple, measure results and expand from there. For example, the following is a progression that a retailer might follow as it builds out a strategy built on a mobile marketing platform, smartphone app and beacons:

  • Start by using beacons technology or sensors in and around stores that track customer behavior, to track store visitors and deliver the same offers to all visiting the store.
  • Break down locations, providing department-specific offers based on where a consumer is physically located within the larger store.
  • Deliver highly tailored, rules-driven personalized experiences based on an increasing number of variables such as location, content, behavior and demographics.
  • Add in data from the CRM system, such as purchase history.
  • Use predictive analytics and machine learning to deliver ultra-personalized experiences to each user.

Based on these recommendations, how is your mobile marketing strategy going? Can you make some adjustments?

Next Steps

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This was last published in April 2016

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