Marketing executives view the rising popularity of mobile platforms with a mix of apprehension and optimism. Diving headlong into the mobile world can be overwhelming. The expectation is that every deliverable, every campaign, and every point of customer contact should be a truly interactive experience available at any time to customers everywhere on virtually any device.
Mobile marketing offers some significant advantages over more traditional methods of customer engagement—particularly because your message can be greatly extended to reach otherwise difficult-to-find customers, no matter where they are. Connecting with customers everywhere when it’s convenient for them provides marketers with unique opportunities for engagement, conversion, and long-term retention.
If you’re hesitant to take the leap, then consider some recent market data in the mobile space:
- A Morgan Stanley report highlighted that, by 2012, global unit shipments of smartphones will exceed the combined shipments of PCs and notebook PCs.
- Gartner expects mobile app downloads to hit more than 50 billion in 2012 and exceed 100 billion by 2013.
- A report in IDC Retail Insights states that nearly 30% of the more than $447 billion spent by consumers during the 2010 holiday season can be directly attributed to smartphone and mobile device sales.
All signs point to that growth continuing, making mobile-marketing strategies vital to any organization’s success. But understanding that mobile is important isn’t enough. It’s time to think about what to do and where to start.
Going mobile can be difficult for novice and experienced marketers, alike. With buzzwords such as “stickiness” and “lift,” plus new mobile-development shops popping up daily, claiming they can take your brand to the next level, sifting through the noise to create a solid strategy can be challenging, to say the least. Here are a few important factors to keep in mind:
- Mobile marketing is a complement to your existing marketing strategies. Mobile is not a reason to create another silo, and it’s not another special assignment for the marketing department. Mobile marketing channels are important platforms for building a foundation to engage global customers and to start their relationships with your brand. These initiatives should be monitored, analyzed, and adapted, just as traditional marketing programs are.
- Innovation is king. Mobile-app development provides ample opportunity to leverage the newest, most powerful technologies to create unique user experiences to captivate audiences and get them fully engaged with your company and products. Using rich, real-time data capture and reporting can enable you to understand and continually respond to changing market opportunities.
- Mobile messaging, content, and interaction should evolve as customer tastes change. Analyzing feedback will help you adapt the features, functionality, and content of your mobile initiatives to better meet the needs of customers today and tomorrow.
The biggest key to mobile success is to take a comprehensive, data-driven approach. To reach the broadest audience and maximize your returns, it is important to create a mobile-optimized Web site. Then, taken a step further, integrate analytics tools with your mobile and standard Web sites to gain real-time insight into which features and content are grabbing the attention of your target audiences, and which ones need to be altered for better engagement and returns.
Five tips to help marketers stay on top of their mobile game.
>> Build A Foundation
One of the first questions marketers ask themselves is whether to build a mobile Web site before or after building a mobile app. To reach the broadest audience and create a foundation for other marketing tactics, it is important to start by creating a mobile-optimized Web site. Beginning with an app-centric strategy can limit initial reach to one or two platforms. However, a mobile site broadens reach beyond smartphones or tablets to any device with a browser—including feature phones—while also providing a rich content experience to consumers on higher end devices. A mobile-optimized Web site can also make it faster and easier to alter content and user experiences because there is no need to release updates through a mobile app store.
>> Innovate With Mobile Apps
After establishing a firm foundation with a mobile-optimized site, the next step is to begin innovating with mobile apps. Marketing with apps is an exciting, fruitful new territory. Mobile apps can leverage the latest features of smartphones, such as location awareness and camera-scanning features, resulting in new possibilities. Retailers, for instance, can tap the capabilities of smartphones to automatically scan UPC or barcodes and provide more information on the spot to a shopper considering an item. However, many mobile users download an app and then rarely use it, so it is important to measure both app conversion and churn rates to achieve positive ROI.
>> Focus On The Customer
With an optimized mobile Web site, engaging and useful mobile apps, and automated keyword search campaigns to drive traffic, you’re free to explore emerging mobile tactics to increase your competitive edge. Some organizations are pushing the envelope even further by exploring innovative uses of mobile apps, such as location-based apps, camera apps, and quick-response (QR) apps to support more immediate response, repeat visits, and incentives for mobile users to convert more frequently. As with any marketing activity, it’s imperative to test and reassess to ensure your strategies are working. For this it’s best to use advanced Web analytics and optimization solutions to refine the look, feel, and user experience. Objectives should include maximizing click-through and response rates, conversions and revenue, and overall ROI.
>> Make Mobile Stick
Understanding how, when, and why customers access an app is essential to fine-tuning it for maximum “stickiness.” Adapting features, functionality, or messaging to drive higher use rates is important, considering the positive implications apps can have in creating new leads, driving higher traffic to traditional e-commerce sites, and exposing customers to in-app advertising or mobile display ads. Logically, increased use, exposure, and interaction with mobile apps can help increase revenue through improved click-through and conversion rates.
>> Search And Don’t Destroy
Mobile search provides another prime way to reach mobile consumers. Marketers are already very familiar with pay-per-click campaigns that reach consumers via search engines and their standard Web site; a similar tactic can, and should, be used on mobile platforms. With the strong adoption of smartphones and the ease of access to the mobile Web, consumers are now using search engines to find products and services when they are on the go. In fact, according to some recent studies, click-through rates for mobile search-marketing campaigns can be as much as eight times higher than traditional desktop-based searches.
Understandably, marketers can experience a bit of anxiety when launching their mobile search-marketing campaigns. They want to get it exactly right, but often encounter similar pitfalls in mobile search campaign management as they do in traditional pay-per-click campaigns, such as underperforming campaigns and time-consuming manual program management. Using software solutions to automate the management of keyword bid rules and other facets of keyword search campaigns can dramatically improve ROI by eliminating wasteful spending on unsuccessful campaigns and by reducing the amount of resources required to manage the campaign, enabling employees to focus on other important tasks.
Mobile marketing is the next frontier in global customer engagement. Marketers must realize that, in order to truly connect with customers, their messages need to reach audiences where they live and when and how the customer wants them. Providing exactly the content, offers, and interaction that customers crave—using detailed analyses to support creation and delivery methods—will drive customer acquisition, customer loyalty and retention, and, ultimately, returns beyond expectations.