Imagine it’s a hot summer day, and you want to cool off by eating some ice cream or frozen yogurt. However, when you walk into your local ice cream store, the manager says, “The only flavor left is vanilla--no more chocolate, strawberry, or cookies and cream.”
How would you feel? Most consumers would feel very disappointed with a “vanilla-only” response. In today’s world, we expect choice and the option to personalize what we purchase.
I spend a lot of time analyzing the mobile strategies of brands across the retail, media, travel, and financial services industries. One common challenge I see is too many “vanilla” experiences for mobile apps and Web sites. Basically, every consumer receives the same generic experience that lacks any form of personalization.
Mobile And Opportunity Costs
If we simply look at market research and analytics from our digital channels, it becomes clear that marketers can no longer ignore or place a low priority on consumers equipped with smartphones and tablets. According to eMarketer, the U.S., U.K., Australia, and South Korea now have smartphone penetration rates exceeding 50 percent of mobile audiences in 2013. In addition, tablets now account for more consumption of mobile Web pages than smartphones, according to the Adobe Digital Index.
As a CMO, your mobile strategy should include not only the choice of which channels to invest (e.g., mobile apps, mobile sites), but also the level of personalization provided by these experiences. A vanilla experience has implications in terms of opportunity cost, branding, and loyalty:
- Revenue lift: How much incremental revenue will be lost if we don’t personalize?
- Brand image: Will the customer perceive that my brand lacks innovation and customer focus?
- Customer loyalty: Will my customer leave my mobile experience and switch to a competitor’s?
My key message to inspire your team is to “think mobile unique to deliver mobile delight” for your customers.
First, let me explain what I mean by “mobile unique.” Smartphones and tablets provide unique capabilities that can be leveraged by marketers to enable contextually, relevant experiences. Key elements include:
1. Device type: Providing a mobile app or Web experience for a smartphone vs. tablet is the most fundamental level of targeting. Specifically, a smartphone is usually limited to a 4-inch screen.
2. Operating system: Audience behavior can vary by operating system. For example, demographic differences may exist between Apple iOS and Android users.
3. Connection type: Consumers can shift between WiFi and 3G or 4G connections depending on their current locations. Experiences can be optimized for a fast or slow connection speed.
4. Location: Inherent to each mobile device is the ability to provide the current GPS position (latitude, longitude). If the consumer opts in to providing their location, then this information can power location targeted experiences.
5. Camera: Every mobile device provides a camera that can be used to provide a real-time image of what can be seen by the user. This information can be used to provide more context to the consumer and enable discovery activities.
6. Sensors: Increasingly, mobile devices can be used as sensors to capture information about a person’s environment and potentially hisphysical condition (e.g., heart rate).
Now onto the next part of my message. By including mobile unique elements in a personalization strategy, your team will be on the road to providing consumers “mobile delight.” Because we have information or can request information from our customers, we should include consumer profile data to power the user experience. Some key elements to consider include the following:
1. Preferences: Ask your customers about their favorite content areas, products, etc., and then use that information to personalize.
2. Time: You can easily tell what time of day or day of week the consumer is using your app or site. Time provides more context about the consumer’s activity (e.g., commuting in the morning, eating lunch).
3. Behavior: Online behavior including search terms, categories browsed, and items that are added to a cart can be easily captured with digital analytics.
4. Social graph: Consumers who provide their Facebook logins to access your app or site can receive personalized content that is related to their friends, likes, and interests.
5. Offline data (CRM, purchase history): Customer data can be accessed from your offline systems that include information about past purchases, loyalty status, and demographics.
Mobile Personalization Framework
If you can bring together mobile unique data along with consumer profile information, then the opportunity to deliver highly relevant and personalized experiences in your mobile channels is enhanced significantly. To help you explore the possibilities, the following graphic classifies “good, better, and best” examples of mobile personalization.
With this framework, you can evaluate your current mobile apps and sites to see where they stand and evaluate opportunities for moving to the next level. Mix and match different elements to help achieve mobile delight for your customers.
In practical terms, here are some examples of mobile experiences that use both mobile and consumer data to deliver a superior experience:
1. Good (ESPN): ESPN provides a “Scorecenter” mobile app that allows users to enter their favorite sports teams. Once they specify these preferences, they can easily launch the app and view the latest scores and updates from their “My Teams” page. By allowing users to save their preferences and optimizing the user experience for a smartphone, ESPN provides a high utility app to sports fans.
2. Better (REI). At outdoors retailer REI, the mobile team is focused on providing a great shopping experience across both smartphones and tablets. Given the limited real estate of a smartphone experience, REI decided that “behavioral recommendations” would be a good tactic for driving purchase conversions. Since most users do not have the time or patience to search and browse for items on a 4-inch screen, REI automatically captures what items are being viewed and purchased in order to suggest new items to the consumer. Recommendations generate mobile delight because they save time for consumers and also make the experience personalized to their behaviors.
3. Best (American Express). After AmEx card members download or update their AmEx iPhone apps, they can click to see "Offers Available for You." The list of offers are ranked based on relevance, taking into account the card member's spending history and current location. By leverage the mobile unique element of location and the customer’s purchase history, AmEx delivers a highly relevant set of offers that should satisfy every consumer.
In summary, here are the key takeaways that I would like you to consider as you plan and prioritize a mobile marketing strategy:
- Evaluate the opportunity cost of not investing in mobile personalization.
- Use what you know about the customer to deliver the best experience.
- Mix flavors from mobile leaders and innovators to go beyond “vanilla.”
If you would like to see additional examples of mobile personalization, please click on this link to view my presentation at Adobe Summit.