A few weeks ago, I went with my daughter and son to sell nuts and magazines for the Girl Scouts, as well as popcorn for the Boy Scouts. We were armed with our refined sales pitches, order forms and a wagon full of popcorn. In addition, to make transactions as seamless as possible, we brought along the Square, a credit card reader for smartphones. The pitch was clear, as my daughter pointed out, “if you'd like to support the Girl Scouts, please consider some nuts and/or magazines -- we take cash or credit cards.”
What I came to realize is that an eight-year-old looks at mobile marketing in a more advanced way than most marketers. My daughter had no issue seeing her phone as a means for commerce. And it is clear that the next generation of power purchasers already considers mobile devices as more than phones -- they see them as an experience to engage with, from entertainment to search and shopping. With my daughter's generation becoming more mobile-centric, I am perplexed when marketers approach mobile with a "wait and see" attitude as if it is a trend that will fade.
eMarketer estimates that in 2012, U.S. consumers will spend an average 82 minutes per day on their mobile device -- a 51.9% increase from 2010. PayPal announced a 193% increase in mobile payments on Black Friday, and IBM reported 24% of consumers using a mobile device to visit a retailer's site, up from 14.3 percent in 2011. With evidence like this, it is imperative for every marketer to enact a mobile vision for their business, and do so immediately.
One of the greatest advantages that mobile marketing offers is the ability to influence consumer engagement at every stage across the purchase funnel. For many marketers, the purchase funnel is a linear path. They believe consumers travel through awareness, consideration, preference, transaction, support, loyalty and advocacy, as if they must stop at each milestone for a layover. However, the purchase funnel is anything but linear. Consumers may start with preference based on what they heard from a friend, or at transaction on a whim -- or they may go directly from awareness straight to advocacy.
Considering that many consumers at the point of purchase will use their mobile device to check a product review, compare prices or even search for similar products, the path to purchase is more like a spaghetti bowl, with numerous paths intertwined, requiring marketers to be agile across the entire purchase funnel.
Target, Toys R’ Us, Amazon and Walmart are just a few brands that are slated to reap the benefits of the holiday season predominantly because they have an agile mobile strategy to engage at every stage along the path to purchase.
Through their mobile app, Target offers awareness about their products, recommendations and comparisons, mobile coupons, the ability to find a store -- and of course, the ability to purchase via mobile or in-store. Target's mobile strategy -- to provide a compelling consumer experience at every stage of the purchase funnel -- does not require consumers to proceed on a linear path. The app allows consumers to bounce around the purchase funnel, and Target reaps the benefits by learning about their consumers' buying habits and preferences.
Mobile marketing has created an expedited route across the path to purchase and changed the face of commerce altogether. A recent study prepared by Sybase 365 and the MMA found that 87% of respondents expect to use their mobile device to help make purchasing decisions this holiday season. Beyond the holidays, mobile devices are influencing consumer purchases all year round. Forty-two percent reported that their mobile device influenced their decision the last time they made a purchase. In addition, 30 percent stated that the last time they were at the point of sale, they used their mobile device to compare prices, search for reviews, and even venture to a different physical or online store for the product or purchased a different brand altogether.
However, while mobile commerce represents an unprecedented advantage for brands, many marketers simply miss the opportunity altogether. Most mobile marketing spend is allocated to upper-funnel or awareness tactics. Velti recently issued a white paper that interviewed marketing executives, and while 90% used mobile advertising tactics, only 48% used mobile marketing tactics to move beyond awareness and aim for engagement. Mobile is undoubtedly a strong vehicle for brand awareness; however, missing the entire latter portion of the purchase funnel is investing in only half of what mobile offers to marketers to interact with consumers.
In only a few years, a generation that considers mobile a necessity for commerce, entertainment, communication and engagement will come to assume the power purchaser position. My advice to those marketers that are still unsure about mobile marketing is to consider the eight-year-old using Square to sell for the Girl Scouts. Can you afford to wait with mobile? The answer is no -- there is no time to wait when the world expects a mobile experience along the path to purchase.