In today’s hyperconnected consumer economy, brands looking to remain competitive must implement a seamless mobile strategy. After all, mobile campaigns engage customers: Studies have shown that open rates for channels, such as SMS and MMS, exceed 90 percent, with an average response time less than three minutes.
In addition, customers are, in fact, seeking more mobile offerings. A Yankee Group 2014 Consumer Survey reported that 88 percent of consumers are interested in mobile commerce.
While incredible potential for mobile success exists, brands need to remember that implementing a direct marketing channel is not the same as implementing it well. To be effective, mobile must be part of an integrated marketing communication strategy rather than relegated as a standalone initiative. Consumers consider their mobile devices an extension of themselves–a social and business lifeline, if you will–and, as such, mobile has to be a personalized experience to be impactful. When integrated, the possibilities for personalization increase dramatically.
Personalization can take many forms, whether adding a customer’s name to a mail merge or sending a blast to a particular demographic segment. However, these are tactics, not strategy; brands have to remember that personalization needs to accomplish a customer goal. Savvy mobile marketers should instead adopt the approach of “personalized engagement,” which is simply a compelling message sent at the opportune time, in the correct format, to a precise location that incites action (e.g., a store visit, purchase, or friend referral).
To incite customer action, integration is a must. Channels will come and go– whether mobile Web, apps, wallet, location-based services, SMS, MMS, voice, social, and/or push messages–but customers will remain constant. By developing data profiles across channels, marketers can personally engage customers–no matter which channel becomes preferred in the future. By using personalization to produce relevant customer content that launches an interactive dialogue, marketers can maximize revenue and reduce cost over the long and short term.
5 Steps To Mobile Messaging Success
Fortunately, creating personalized engagement to drive profitable customer relationships isn’t rocket science. By adopting these five steps in a crawl-walk-run fashion, marketers will find that they already have many of the tools in place to make mobile work for their bottom-line goals.
1. Integrate mobile messaging with third-party software and/or database systems: By connecting mobile marketing data to important sources, such as email and CRM databases, marketers can better know what their customers want and what will drive them to action. As mentioned, mobile marketing should not be done in a data silo. Start by making sure mobile contact information is part of the customer account creation process, and work toward a two-way data stream across integrated systems.
2. Modernize messaging for today’s tech-savvy consumers: Do you respond to generic, out-of-touch messages from any source? Your customers don’t either. Commit to making mobile messaging content relevant and topical. Start by tweaking language to be demographic-appropriate, and work toward taking advantage of modern tactics, such as gamification and emojis, to develop branded experiences that captivate today’s distracted audience.
3. Personalize content according to the maturity of your customer relationships: Though blasting the same message on the same day to a large list will likely result in limited interaction, no marketer wants to be the one who sends a newly interested customer an “I know what you did (or bought) last summer” promotion. Strategic personalization has proved to act as a multiplier when it comes to both engagement and action. Start by asking customers to share basic demographic data (e.g., Zip code, gender) in exchange for purchase promotions or privileged brand access. From there, demonstrate value to the customer so that he continues to authorize the exchange of deeper targeting criteria (e.g., purchase history).
4. Drive up the ratio of inbound-to-outbound mobile messages: Marketers can no longer rely on unidirectional marketing blasts for customer conversions. Instead, discover what is truly important and top-of-mind for customers by enabling authentic, two-way human interactions focused on exchanging ideas. To move from off-the-rack blasts to a multidirectional information exchange, implement A/B split tests that track which content provides the deepest engagement.
5. Design mobile messaging analytics to facilitate iteration and improvement: Before launching mobile messaging of any kind, make sure you have tracking capabilities to prove success (or shortcomings so you can learn from your mistakes). Remember, mobile campaigns cannot be a one-time push–they have to instigate an ongoing, responsive relationship focused on maximizing life-time value.
Make Your Move
Progressive mobile marketers who tailor messages to the preferences of their individual customers will be the most successful in today’s economy. To adopt this methodology as your own, implement a phased approach centered around customer data that uses small, incremental steps to reach the goal of dynamic, personalized content across the five steps mentioned above. Marketers who approach mobile this way will position themselves to take advantage of not only the monetary benefits available today, but also the forthcoming technological innovations that will shape customer direct marketing in the future.