Commentary

Mobile's Biggest Problem? Forgetting Its Audience

Increasingly, the role of today's CMO is to be curator of technology and trend. What began as a focus on personalized selling and a handshake has turned into a carnival of “innovations,” “game-changers” and “disruptions.” Each is creating an increasingly fragmented and somehow more impersonal relationship, with the people they are trying to connect with -- or the audience, as we marketers like to say.
 
It’s easy for the modern CMOs to spend their days chasing the over-connected consumer from platform to platform, and thus lose sight of what their customer actually craves: connection, utility and relevancy.
 
Mobile has further confused the issue.

With mobile devices now commanding over two-and-a-half hours of daily attention, according to IBM, CMOs are eager to jump into the mobile arena. But the absence of a coherent strategy usually leads to executions that rely on gimmicks and a lack of reporting and audience understanding. Words like “augmented reality” and “gamification” have replaced the fundamentals of personalization, utility and ease of use.

This is not to say that these features can’t be part of a successful mobile strategy (see IKEAs catalog app), but they do not apply to all audiences, nor are they a strategy in and of themselves. Your audience doesn’t want your brand to create another Flappy Bird competitor, or replicate Pinterest. They want relevant information, period.
 
How many of you working in mobile have heard this: “We want something cool and unique for our app.” Heads up -- cool is not a strategy. Cool can get initial downloads to an app, but it’s utility and relevancy that drive long-term usage and return visits. For today’s CMO, understanding that your mobile audience is your best and most loyal fans is everything. After all, would a casual consumer download an app to a brand they are unconnected to? Absolutely not. But a loyal audience needs the proper tools to make their brand interaction easier and more fulfilling.

Take JetBlue mobile app, for example. It has been driving a superior mobile experience to their audience since the first data plans came into existence. Their app is the best model for the traveling audience. But look at how the engage their audience: Instead of only focusing on ticket sales for a flyer on the go (the obvious use), JetBlue creates a personalized experience while also promoting their brand differentiators.

This ranges from quickly displaying the user’s pending flight on the home screen with a tap to their virtual boarding pass, updating your destination’s weather information and including in-flight entertainment options. With one touch, loyalty members can be connected to account details and a dedicated support line. Add to that push notifications that keep app users up to date with any flight status changes and you have a useful tool.

But this technology didn’t appear out of the sky; it was created solely with audience experience kept top of mind.

The point of this example is not to discourage mobile innovation from CMOs. Mobile -- and other technologies that serve to connect with consumers -- will always continue to evolve. However, when evaluating your own strategy, CMOs need to focus not on the cool technology itself, but on the audience interacting with it. By keeping your customers’ needs in context, CMOs can ensure that cross-channel behavior at the core of any mobile strategy will result in long-lasting relationships with their most loyal customers.

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