What Marketers Should Ask About Mobile

MobileMarketingNo one can argue that marketers aren’t using mobile: Mobile spending has passed both email and social media, and it’s expected to reach $8.2 billion by 2016. (And consumers are warming up to it, too, with mobile commerce projected to be $31 billion in five years.)

But few companies are marketing well: Many simply repurpose their online ads, missing out on the true potential of the mobile audience. In Mobilized Marketing: How to Drive Sales, Engagement, and Loyalty Through Mobile Devices (Wiley; May 2012) Jeff Hasen, Hipcricket’s chief marketing officer, helps advertisers get to the issues that will really drive revenue.

Do we have enough metrics to make wise decisions?

Mobile has a ways to go before it can provide metrics that will offer more insight into performance. Some envision the day when mobile will be included in a so-called universal dashboard that provides a real-time view of all marketing programs regardless of channel.

It’s a lofty goal and not one that necessarily will be met by a pure mobile company.

InsightExpress’s Joy Liuzzo agrees that mobile campaigns should be viewed within the context of the larger marketing initiatives.

“For our clients, metrics were always important, even if they weren’t ready to do mobile yet,” she says. “Oftentimes the availability of metrics was what encouraged our clients to dip their toe into mobile. They knew they could compare mobile performance to their other media, providing executives with clear roi and hopefully getting a larger budget for future campaigns.

“As the campaign budgets grew, we encouraged clients to expand their understanding by conducting cross-media studies to look at the synergistic impact of all their media, including mobile.”

Microsoft’s Barbara Williams, a former marketer at venerable Johnson & Johnson and Unilever, is working around the lack of precise mobile measurement.

“Now it seems to be very anecdotal,” she says. “We know we spent x amount, and we know the cost per engagement or cost per experience. We’ll look at the percent we spend in media on mobile, or media in other channels, and look at the return on that in terms of visitors or engagement and try to compare it. We’ll say we know we’re not spending nearly as much in mobile as we are in digital, but we’re getting just as much traffic.

“Right now we’re at the beginning stages of making it more scientific and more data driven.That’s where we’re starting with the framework — understanding what we’re measuring and making that consistent and standard across the company.”

espn’s John Kosner says that a bigger flow of brand dollars to mobile will solve the mobile metrics woes.

“It’s weak now, but in my experience the measurement follows the money,” he says. “Everybody complains where it is now. We’ll see significant expansion in the measurement in the next five to 10 years. In the meantime, companies like ours — that have great products, demonstrate scale and represent a safe buy — may benefit disproportionately in a world less measured.”

Will consumers continue to seek out offers?


Through more than 150,000 mobile campaigns, Hipcricket has found that mobile subscribers want a deal. That was true before, during and after the recession. Since the beginning, brands have come to Hipcricket for simple delivery of deals — a text message sent in response to a call to action that can be shown at retail. In 2009 the company brought a more sophisticated solution to the market, providing single-use discount codes that consumers could key in anywhere a Visa or MasterCard was accepted.

The Yankee Group says that the number of active mobile coupon users is expected to grow from 2.7 million in 2010 to nearly 35 million in 2014.

What’s the future of mobile and social?

As discussed previously, inserting the mobile device into the retail environment has changed the dynamic forever. Despite the hope of some businesses that the genie will get back in the bottle, don’t expect it. Consumers have made information and access to their networks as important to their shopping experience as comfortable shoes.
I’ve yet to forget the Lexus salesman who in 2010 told me that I didn’t know what I was talking about, despite my access to invoice data available to me from Consumer Reports through my iPhone. Worse for him and the brand, even before leaving the dealership, I took to my social networks and spread word of my experience and displeasure.

Where are we headed?

The latest smartphones are capable of taking at least eight-megapixel photographs and capturing video in high definition. Graphic depictions of those Moments of Trust customer touch points are but an instant away from upload to Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.

For marketers, those experiences can quickly impact brand perceptions and even sales. What are we to do about it? First, we need to plan to move quickly. Time is our enemy. Before we even get to the next negative experience, we need to impress on our organizations that customer service is more critical than ever. Further, we should celebrate successes at Moments of Trust and mitigate when a bad experience like the one with the Lexus salesman drags down our customer satisfaction scores.

Should we be looking for innovation or the maturing of existing technology?

As to what’s next, Barbara Williams of Microsoft and Jonathan Dunn of Bell Media in Canada see more maturing of technologies than the introduction of something new that will dramatically change mobile marketing and advertising.

“Innovation will come through mobile commerce and the use of mobile devices in shopping decisions,” Williams says. “I think it’s the idea of driving commerce whether it’s through the device or the device leading to the store to drive commerce also using the other technologies to enable that whether it’s augmented reality, sms [short message service], or different forms of geotargeting, gaming, social. Using all the different types of mobile technologies and integrating them in a meaningful way that will drive sales or commerce or drive people down the funnel.

“I don’t know if innovation comes in new technology or combining what we have already in meaningful ways. People were throwing things against the wall. But when you think about it more strategically and think about the customer journey and that funnel or whatever shape you want to give it, you’re going to start combining things in different ways that ultimately will create something new but components of it are known and exist today.”

Dunn is looking for adoption of mobile technologies as the next big thing.

“In the mobile media and advertising space, in the next 12 to 18 months, I see broader update and consolidation of existing innovations,” he says. “We’ll see the widespread build out of html5 Web sites/Web apps and tablet sites. We’ll see mobile-rich media ad units becoming commonplace. At the same time, I’m optimistic we’ll define best practices for each to ensure good user experiences that maintain the vitality of mobile media and respect the personal nature of the mobile device. I also expect significant improvements in ad targeting and analytics. Both will get more precise and flexible, which will increase their potency.

“Broadly, I think nfc [near field communication] is a huge opportunity for marketers. Payment and mobile wallet gets a lot of ink currently and while that’s important, I think the real play will be in loyalty. The ability to personalize a customer experience and tie that in to device features and user data is powerful. If rumors prove accurate, Apple is including nfc in a next version of the iPhone, which will be a watershed moment. Google is pushing the envelope, but Apple has an excellent track record in frictionless ux [user experience], as well as a distribution and payment platform that’s deeply integrated into peoples’ lives. As always, privacy controls will be a huge topic.”

Will hyperlocal work for my brand?

A growing number of businesses are sharpening their focus on hyperlocal advertising and marketing. Still in its nascent stage, hyperlocal presents an attractive opportunity: the power to engage with customers at the optimum time and place.

The catalysts behind the hyperlocal trend fall into two camps. First is the continued maturation of technologies, namely those capable of delivering marketers the information they need to determine a consumer’s precise location.

Today there are multiple categories of information that businesses can tap into, including derived information (mobile phone number, area code, etc.); declared information (registration process, hotel check-ins, vip clubs); network-initiated information (triangulation, carrier, wi-fi, hot spot); and gps (iPhone, Android, BlackBerry, Symbian, Windows Mobile).

The second driving force behind the hyperlocal trend is the fact that consumers have voiced an interest in locally driven communications. In fact, according to the mma, half of mobile users who noticed any ads while using location-based services took action. The mma also found that most mobile users are “interested in allowing their phone to automatically share their location in exchange for perks, such as free use of mobile applications and mobile coupons.” These are meaningful numbers that clearly demonstrate why a growing number of brands are looking to latch on to this trend.

With these figures in mind, the temptation to jump into the hyperlocal waters is high. But consumer trust is critical. They don’t want to be inundated by brands every time they pass their local Starbucks. Your customers are interested in receiving locally relevant ads on their terms. Within this community, brands should develop an intelligent hyperlocal campaign that has a cadence, delivering relevant messages to consumers perhaps twice a month, not every few hours.

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