Customer Experience Is The New Mobile Marketing -- Just Ask Apple

Mobile marketing, in the hands of a clever brand, has always been a way to serve customers better more than it has been an acquisition tool. That's not to say that engaging content can't be used effectively on mobile to reach out to new audiences, because it clearly can. What is does mean is that the old tradition of interruption, which was carried on from the analogue world into desktop, is going to find it way harder to carry on through to a mobile first economy.

The point has been made clearly today in Marketing through a look at the way the upcoming iOS 9 allows display ads to be blocked, while at the same time allowing deep linking of content within apps. It means that once you have a customer who's downloaded your app, you can empower them to do a lot more searching among different sources in order to be more productive within your environment. The possibilities are endless, but it would be easy to see someone buying seats at a gig as well as booking train tickets and a hotel within a single app. An executive might be able to, say, download a conference speaker list from the cloud and put dates in their diary, organise meetings around a keynote and select a spot for lunch, all without leaving an app. Of course, if this happens it could be Apple's way of apologising for restricting iPhone users to a single app at a time for so long.

It brings home to me how important it is for brands to not just get their marketing right, but then get their mobile services working properly. One case in hand will always come from the airlines who struggle with legacy systems to empower users to perform seemingly very simple measures. The Hargrave family holiday took us to Portugal this year, where the national airline's creaking mobile service had the very unhelpful habit of sitting our children in emergency exits they are not allowed to occupy. It led to them saying I shouldn't have had children in that row, prompting me to point out that it was they who had put them there, or rather their technology furnished with their birthdates chose to ignore that information and assigned the offending seats. It also chose to forget any updates to our information -- meaning that original passport numbers had to be corrected four times, one for each of four flights (thanks to TAP unapologetically cancelling the direct route we'd booked).

Sorry to rant on about airlines -- but it is summer, supposedly, and they are usually the best source for wanting examples of how things can be done so badly. British Airways, you would like to think, would be a leader. Sadly not. Here's a test for anyone out there. Try spending its flight points, Avios, online -- or better still, try to find out where those Avios can take you -- and you will stumble across one of the most unusable systems going. To begin with, the calendar doesn't work on an iPad, so you can only search for a route in the month you're already in. Secondly, when you switch to a phone you can end up playing the most incredible game of battleships. Rather than ask how many people are going, the system pretends to have flights available that are immediately withdrawn when you add to the flight and route data previously entered that you want to take the kids to. BA, it really is better to not offer something and explain why rather than offer it with half the information provided and then take it away. It just leads to game of guessing which route and date combination won't have the rug pulled away from you at the last moment.

So -- rant over. There's a serious point here. Interruption isn't going to enter the mobile world as easily as it did the desktop. Sure, pre-rolls are still going to be watched, but driving awareness and engagement through display are going to be very limited. Mobile is there to show what a good, supporting friend your brand is to users. Some brands get it -- many do not. 

Mobile marketing is effectively customer service. Treat them well, they will stay loyal. Make them play battleships with your legacy systems with guesses on dates, numbers and availabilities and they will churn. It's as simple as that.

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