Mobile advertising is coming of age—at last. This year, it led the rise in total U.S. ad spending, with brands and publishers shelling out 83 percent more on smartphones and tablets than they did in 2013, according to eMarketer. That’s an increase of $8.4 billion.
With the average consumer now spending nearly three hours per day on a smartphone, marketers have discovered that the best place to engage consumers is via mobile.
Given the uptick in mobile ad spending, one would assume that most brands are creating highly engaging, relevant, and effective mobile campaigns. Sadly, that is not always the case. However, the brands that are succeeding with mobile follow five golden rules.
Rule 1: Mobile Should Not Be A Separate Entity In The Marketing Mix
Brands that “get” mobile integrate it within their overall marketing/media mix along with broadcast TV, radio, print, and digital. Case in point: Unilever. (Note: Unilever is a SessionM client.) Its integrated approach uses broadcast TV to drive brand awareness, while leveraging mobile to drive location-based sales and instant connections with consumers. It also makes sure that its mobile ads are contextual and relevant to what the consumer needs at a given point in time—whether it’s the best deal or a specific product at Wegmans. Conversely, brands that fail with mobile use it as a sidecar, employing pop-ups and banner ads that are irrelevant to consumer needs, as well as highly annoying.
Rule 2: Location Is Everything
Ford is another brand that understands the consumer mind-set when it comes to mobile. In a recent mobile campaign, the automaker targeted mobile users who had identified themselves as in the market to buy a car and. Ford encouraged them to test-drive new cars in exchange for branded content and offers that are relevant to their lifestyles—and ultimately tracks the number of vehicles sold at any given location. Like Unilever, Ford uses upper-funnel activities to build greater awareness of its new cars, but pulls the mobile lever to corral consumers to locations where they can buy their products.
Rule 3: Loyalty Is King
Dunkin’ Donuts has had great success with mobile by implementing a loyalty program called Perks. By taking a page from the gaming industry, Dunkin’ Donuts created a mobile check-in app that rewards consumers every time they check into a store, bestowing them with free coffee, products, or discounts on future purchases. According to Forrester Research, more than 70 percent of consumers will engage with a mobile ad if they know that they will receive some type of tangible reward. Since implementing this mobile loyalty campaign in 2012, Dunkin’ Donuts has realized a 24 percent increase in in-store sales alone.
Rule 4: It’s About Time
Immediacy must be part of the mobile consumer experience; you must fulfill consumer expectations very quickly on mobile or else you will lose them. Rental car company Uber set a very high bar—its mobile app guarantees a pick-up within five minutes, and today’s consumers expect that level of service. This puts brick-and-mortar retailers, such as Staples, on notice. While Staples introduced a mobile app that allows consumers to order office supplies via their smartphones and then pick them up at a local store two hours later, it failed to meet the customer expectation of instantaneous response–especially when consumers can order the same supplies from Amazon and have the goods conveniently delivered to their doorsteps in less than six hours.
Rule 5: Brick-And-Mortar Integration Is Key
With the right mobile strategy, brands have the ability to drive people to stores immediately and lead them to the relevant merchandise. Once people are in the store, brands must be ready to have a real, physical conversation with them and fulfill their expectations. Determining the most desirable items to deliver to that consumer at that particular point in time, as well as the best way to serve them, requires tight integration between the mobile/digital world and physical brick-and-mortar stores. If these two worlds are not properly integrated, it will create confusion for consumers—particularly if a mobile offer does not compute with the sales clerk ringing up their items at the cash register. Therefore, brands that have vertically integrated systems that link their mobile offers to in-store point-of-sale systems and cash registers will be victorious—especially during the critical holiday shopping season.
Fixing Mobile Gone Wrong
The mobile consumer experience needs to be seamless, fast, integrated, and enjoyable—yet brands that have failed at this in the past can still get it right.
Before starting a mobile initiative, they need to get the right mix of folks in the room during the planning process. Rather than just talking solely to the media sales team, they need to engage the content and product experts working for those publishers. For example, Ford engages the full team of experts at CBS—those who oversee editorial content, products, and sales leads—to determine which mobile creative and media approaches will be most effective with its core demographics. These publisher product teams do a great deal of user testing, so they have an intimate knowledge of what consumers want from the mobile experience. Following this approach has helped Ford create mobile campaigns with far better conversion rates.
Bottom line: Don’t treat mobile as simply a media buy in display. Pop-up networks and display ads drive attrition, degrade brand value, and alienate consumers.
Next, if video is part of your mobile campaign, it must be full-screen, in HD, and organic to the consumer experience. Think about delivering interesting responsive design elements that offer real benefits to the consumer.
Consider adding brand ambassadors to the mobile effort. Converse, the sporting goods giant, created content for the table and mobile environment that spotlights the respective superstars in such sports as skateboarding, basketball and hockey. Its target demographics, younger men on-the-go, as well as slightly older hipsters, love engaging with this content, so now Converse will introduce it across all platforms.
Last, mobile is a highly creative medium, so have fun and experiment with it. However, know that fulfilling the consumer’s needs is your top priority.