A 2011 study by Independent Retailer reveals that 41% of smartphone owners have made at least one purchase from their mobile phones. ABI Research predicts shoppers around the world will have purchased about $119 billion worth of goods and services through their mobile phones by 2015. For these reasons and more, direct-to-consumer companies are feeling pressure to add this channel to their marketing mix. But where does it fit?
As a sales channel, it will either supplement or replace other platforms—namely, brick-and-mortar store locations, online stores such as megatailers Amazon and eBay, and/or standalone ecommerce sites. As a marketing channel, mobile has important implications in terms of expanding brands' reach and connecting them to new and existing audiences in a different way. Determining where mobile will fit in is an exercise in correctly gathering and interpreting consumer data.
Because mobile devices are an extension of each consumer's life—set up and customized to their individual needs and preferences—they potentially offer marketers more personal data about their audiences than ever before. This data should inform the direction of marketers' mobile strategies, and determine where mobile fits in as a sales channel and marketing medium.
There are three steps for using consumer data collected from mobile programs to improve sales and marketing efforts across all channels.
1. Real time content targeting: integrating CRM data into mobile campaigns
Marketers should already be using their CRM intelligence to improve their consumers' experience with a brand across all touch points. They should also be updating information to account for the introduction of new insights they gather. If mobile marketing is high priority for a company, then there's no better time for marketers to clean up their existing CRM system and update it with new mobile behavioral data.
One particular application of CRM data in the mobile environment is a marketer's ability to target specific customers with specific content in real time. That's right: real time.
While CRM practices were born and bred in the offline world, technologies that marry offline, online and mobile consumer data already exist and will help companies align CRM, mobile and multichannel marketing more strategically, with better targeting, better personalization, and a better connection with consumers, across any medium, consistently, and at the right time.
The benefits of this include: improved brand retention; loyalty; and customer lifetime values; increases in revenue per visit; and a truly connected multichannel experience.
This approach complements the context in which consumers are using mobile (on the go) and will therefore increase its effectiveness in reaching them in a meaningful and relevant way.
2. Provide a Consistent, Optimized Experience… Everywhere
Marketers must accept mobile for what it is: one of many channels to the overall marketplace. Consumers now expect a consistent brand experience, look and offer, irrespective of channel. Any personalization on the mobile site must be mirrored on other platforms, including any tablet-specific apps or sites and the online website. And vice versa. Customers checking their flight details, for example, should receive the same offer for an upgrade, or discounted hotel or car rental, whether they're accessing the site from their mobile device or online.
Aligning all these efforts first requires companies to consider how and why the consumer will be using their mobile devices to interact with the brand, and how that will differ from the online interaction. It's unlikely, for example, that a banking customer will want to complete a loan application on a mobile phone, but probable that she will use the device to check account balances or find the location of the nearest branch. Account balance pages, therefore, should be priority for targeted and optimized content offerings, which are consistent with those offerings among other channels.
Of course, different platforms allow for unique opportunities and shouldn't be treated as if they are entirely the same—because they're not. With mobile comes unique platform-specific opportunities, such as location-based features and augmented reality using the mobile's camera, both of which can enhance the customer's experience. Consumers' use of these types of features yields unique behavioral data which can drive CRM efforts.
Adding the customer's mobile interaction provides further insight into behavior. This information can be used to improve the modeling techniques which determine the next best offer, content or action.
3. Personalize all access points
With traditional web sites, organizations can put up a great deal of information across different areas on each page. Ninety percent of this information can be irrelevant to the consumer, as long as the 10% that is relevant is in a prominent position and works effectively.
This luxury is not available in the mobile channel. Given mobile devices' limited screen sizes, companies must ensure the right content is put in front of the consumer in the right format, the first time–without being able to exploit other test areas on the page.
Marketers can make the mobile experience just as customized and personal as it is on a standard website—and, along the way, draw in and win over customers.
Segmented personalization allows marketers to capture behaviors and attributes about their web and mobile visitors in order to create content tailored to their location, their time of day, type of browser or operating system, their brand of mobile device. Personalization can also be specific to each visitor: Users can be targeted by previous searches, past purchases, the time of their last visits, and even their activities in physical stores, call centers or websites.
Take the travel industry: when a repeat visitor from a marketer's website logs on to the mobile site, during a trip, the mobile site experience can recognize that they are currently in Orlando, Fla, and now may choose to re-target them with tickets to a local attraction. When this customer picks up his or her tickets from the concierge, he or she can further be offered assistance to make reservations for a restaurant or other activities based on their online browsing and purchase data.
Any way it's presented, personalizing the customer experience across all channels is an essential practice for a marketer wanting to be on top of the game.
Mark Simpson is founder and president of Maxymiser.