CMOs need to prioritize mobile as a channel to communicate with consumers. According to Janet Roberts, CMO of Syniverse, the vast majority finally get that. Gone are the days when companies would launch a mobile app and call that their mobile strategy. We’re in full mobile 2.0 mode.
CMO.com interviewed Roberts because her company sits squarely in the middle of the mobile universe, providing technology and business services to the telecom industry. According to Roberts, CMOs who haven’t embraced mobile yet are missing out on a critical channel to reach customers and prospects.
CMO.com: Why should CMOs care about mobile?
Roberts: You’d be crazy not to. When you look at how pervasive mobile is globally, not just in developed markets either, there are more people who own a mobile phone than there are people who own a toothbrush.
CMO.com: What’s at stake for CMOs who haven't yet embraced mobile?
Roberts: They are missing out on a critical channel to reach audiences and prospects. People use mobile devices for everything. I left my phone in my car this morning in the parking lot, and I freaked out and went back for it. I have a landline at my desk, but I still would feel so disconnected without my phone at arm’s reach. This is how people get their information. And brands need to use mobile to communicate to people who are already using their devices to keep in touch, make buying decisions, and actually make purchases.
CMO.com: Are you finding that companies are finally getting beyond this notion that a mobile strategy is equivalent to just having an app?
Roberts: Absolutely. They are. It has been very interesting. I think that when there is a new technology, it takes a little bit of time for people to figure it out. Brands want to jump in early and learn so they can improve with each iteration.
CMO.com: What challenges do CMOs face in integrating mobile into the broader marketing mix?
Roberts: Anytime there’s a new technology, especially one that’s constantly improving and changing, there’s the challenge of keeping up. You become overwhelmed with opportunity. It’s vital to have that strategy that flows from your company’s business objectives. At the same time, be opportunistic. When something new comes to market, like the iPad, you have to be nimble.
CMO.com: Which brands come to mind first as leaders in mobile marketing?
Roberts: Delta. I fly once a week with Delta, and I think they are making huge progress toward making people like me feel like a valued customer. Between alerts for flight delays or reminders for checking in, their push strategy is spot on.
Another role model in this area is Coca-Cola. They’re savvy with mobile, and what’s very interesting to me is how they introduce an element of philanthropy with some of their mobile campaigns as well.
CMO.com: How are the demands of mobile broadening the roles of brand CMOs?
Roberts: I think that it is very important that CMOs who are marketing experts also have very good ties with the technology side of their organizations. They don’t have to be mobile experts. But they do need to be mobile marketing experts. They need to have at least a basic understanding of mobile capabilities to better understand the opportunities there.
CMO.com: How is big data transforming the mobile industry?
Roberts: That’s the hot, shiny, new object. I think that big data brings a whole new level of value to the table. Clearly it’s along the theme of being overwhelmed with opportunity. Right now, marketers are struggling to figure out what [data] is important so that they can provide value to their end consumer. Plus, with real-time intelligence being the talk of the town nowadays, data becomes even more critical.
CMO.com: What's the next big thing in mobile?
Roberts: If I could tell you that, I suppose I could start to plan my retirement [soon] after. I love this industry and that it changes constantly. Some things you can predict and others you simply can’t. That said, we are seeing that taking big data and turning it into insights is and will continue to be the next big thing in mobile. It’s still the early days, but the brands that are getting a head start will see a big payoff.