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News/ Emerging Media

No One-Size-Fits-All Approach To Mobile, Marketers Say

by Giselle Abramovich
Senior & Strategic Editor
CMO.com

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Article Highlights:

  • The first step is understanding consumers and what they need from your brand in terms of services and tools.
  • Marketers have not done a good job explaining to consumers what providing data really means.
  • The mobile Web is for harvesting, while apps are for loyalists.

Mobile marketing is top-of-mind for most brands, but there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to the channel. Every company needs its own unique strategy.

That was the consensus at Mobile Marketer’s Mobile Marketing Summit yesterday in New York City. To that end, the first step is understanding consumers and what they need from your brand in terms of services and tools, according to Martin Lange, executive marketing director of digital strategy and global head of Mobile@Ogilvy. He told attendees to ask themselves: What are the factors that influence the needs people express when shopping?

“A mom in a supermarket with her child is time-pressed,” Lange said. “She needs to bring her son to soccer practice. She may have a shopping list, which means she has lots of things on her mind so she needs to write things down. On the other hand, teenagers in a department store, these are socially engaged individuals. They are on their phones and are distracted from the shopping experience. They have different queues than the mother we just saw.”

Location also influences need, as does time of day, he said. Then add to the mix the volume of consumers have at their fingertips--a person could buy an item for $199 in-store, but he could also wait to research a better deal online, or maybe there’s a better product altogether--which often stalls a purchase decision, and marketers are challenged.

Lange also said that marketers haven’t done a good job explaining to consumers what providing their personal data really means. “Personal info is anonymous, and we as marketers know that, but outside of our industry no one gets that,” he said. “We don’t know who a consumer is per se, but we’re just trying to derive future behavior from what you have done in the past.”

Lange’s agency divides consumers into three groups: brand lovers, those who want transparency, and loyalists. Brand lovers are conscious about a brand--they know they like it and know where to buy its products. Consumers who want transparency are looking to make the best informed decision. They use ratings and reviews, Yelp, and others to find the best places to eat, for example. Finally, loyalists are your existing customers, and they’re the ones willing to give up a lot of data.

In the mobile context, marketers should plan for separate services/experiences for all three sets, Lange said. The first step to planning an approach is to stop looking at the consumer journey as linear; it’s continuous, he said. Next, look at each touch point throughout a journey. Then identify the needs for each touch points and come up with a different approach for each need.

The Citi Approach To Mobile
Melissa Stevens, head of Internet and mobile for Citi Consumer Banking, is of the mind that customers should not be able to do whatever they want from every touch point in their journeys.

“It’s our job as marketers to help them realize where they should do what,” Stevens told attendees. “You just don’t want to do certain things by yourself. For example, if you’re trying to get a mortgage, you’re going to need that human connection, and our Web site’s not going to give it to you. On the other hand, if you want to check your account balance, there’s no reason for you to come to the branch and wait in line for 20 minutes.”

Citi, which has a slew of mobile services, including SMS alerts, phone and tablet apps, and a mobile Web site, is now focusing its efforts on making experiences seamless regardless of the device, Stevens said. Think omnichannel, like Amazon. If a person stops halfway thought paying a bill on her tablet, when she logs into her account on Citibank.com, she should receive an alert asking her if she’d like to complete paying her bill.

And while experiences should be tailored based on the device a consumer is using, the branding– look and feel–of the experience should be consistent, she said. People need to know they’re at a Citi destination. To do that, Citi has turned to responsive Web design.

“Responsive, or adaptive Web, technology has made it possible for us to make that experience holistically the same between devices,” Stevens said.

GE’s Storytelling Approach
GE’s approach to mobile is totally different than Citi’s. People don’t visit a GE factory. But a lot of interesting stuff is happening there, so GE uses mobile to let people take a look inside.

The company started with Instagram two years ago; today is has 141,000 followers.

“What we love about Instagram is it gives us the ability to talk about stuff people don’t think about, [to] capture GE at its most beautiful and most human,” said Linda Boff, executive director of brand marketing at GE, at the mobile event. “What we’re trying to do with Instagram is throw open the doors and let people in. The strategy is recruiting for the best and the brightest–the best engineers. We’re trying to be relevant to that Millennial generation, and we are finding that Instagram is proving good for recruiting and for new partnerships.”

And then there’s Vine. GE’s first Vine, “#6SecondScience,” showed viewers what happens when you combine milk, food coloring and dish washing soap. The video did so well that GE asked consumers to create their own #6SecondScience Vines. More than 600 videos were created, and GE added 50,000 followers as a result. GE then took all of the videos and created a compilation video that resulted in 1.1 million consumer engagements and video views of 700,000.  

“My lesson to you all with Vine is listen to the people around you,” Boff said.  “Some of our most successful stuff were  just experiments. The results for #6SecondScience gave us nerd cred, and it was truly on-brand. We have always said we don’t want to reach the most people. We’re looking to reach people that share our passion for science, technology, and innovation.”

According to Boff, GE has made agility and speed priorities when it comes to new platforms. From a process perspective, the marketing team meets every morning to make sure they are aligned. And every day, the company is on mobile/social to make sure it is catching those moments where GE can be part of the conversation. In addition, GE has a mobile center of excellence within the organization dedicated to apps--it has more than 100 to date.

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Why Time Says Mobile Doesn’t Mean Tablet
Publisher Time Inc. is bullish on mobile, with 27 percent of its total digital traffic coming from mobile, said Sol Masch, director of mobile sales and strategy at Time. Time advertisers who add mobile to a multiscreen program see, on average, a 38 percent lift in reach, he told attendees.

Another interesting point he made was about marketers considering tablet and mobile one and the same. But 95 percent of purchases that happen on tablets happen in the home. That means a tablet isn’t all that “mobile” after all. Marketers need to understand that and tailor their mobile experiences for each device. For example, the tablet experiences should focus on consumers in lean-back mode.

Echoing Lange’s point time of day is also a factor, Masch said. “We’re finding that desktop is the work platform,” Masch said. “We’re seeing that people are hitting our content at work during their lunch break. On tablets, we see usage spiking in the evenings. That means we need to program for each device.”

And that’s exactly what Time does. It has a mobile editor on board who helps figure out what type of content would be better-suited for the mobile user. For example, the Fortune mobile phone experience vs. the tablet experience are very different. On the tablet you get a unique experience that’s not a straight replica of the site. It’s like a dashboard of the content available to readers–both long-form and short form. On the phone, the content is shorter and easier to digest.

IHG’s Holistic Guest Journey
InterContinental Hotels Group says 18 percent of its Web bookings come from mobile devices, and mobile is the only technology that lets IHG stay connected to customers through the entire guest journey. 

According to Bill Keen, IHG’s director of mobile and emerging channels, the company can now market to consumers while they research their vacation packages, to when they book, to when they’re looking for transportation from the airport to the hotel, and then again after the vacation to make sure they enjoyed their stay. Mobile has a different role in all of these touch points.

For the research phase, IHG has a pretty hefty mobile advertising strategy that focuses mainly on mobile search and very little on mobile display ads. Consumers can book their stay via IHG’s mobile app and Web site. Then once consumers are in the hotel, signs all over encourage them to download the IHG mobile app. A bar code to make the download process easier is also available. By focusing on all the ways consumers use their devices throughout their travel, IHG has ensured it has a true 360-degree mobile strategy, Keen said. 

“We’re finding that the mobile Web is for harvesting, while apps are for loyalists,” he added. 

About Giselle Abramovich

Giselle Abramovich is senior & strategic editor at CMO.com. Previously she wrote for outlets including Direct Marketing News, Mobile Marketer, Mobile Commerce Daily, Luxury Daily, and Digiday. Reach her at abramovi@adobe.com, or follow her on Twitter @GAbramovich.

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