At the Marketing Innovation Summit that took place in early May, IBM announced results from its global survey of marketers, called “The State of Marketing 2011.” It covered nearly 300 direct and online marketers across a wide range of geographies, industries, and company sizes.
Results revealed a number of key findings, including the urgent need to turn data into action, social media marketing growing pains, and the increasing recognition of mobile’s marketing power.
It’s no surprise marketing with mobile devices in mind is a focus for Chief Marketing Officers now. In March, IDC reported that it expects the global market for smartphones to grow 49.2% in 2011, with over 450 million smartphones, up from 303.4 million shipped in 2010.
Also consider the growth of tablets. Up to 47.9 million tablet PC units are expected to be shipped this year, and 79.6 million next year, according to the latest J.P. Morgan forecasts. In all, this represents a $35 billion annual revenue opportunity, says the investment firm. And they are not all iPads. This dizzying array of new tablets including the BlackBerry PlayBook is causing a major disruption in the marketing department.
Compounding the problem, online transactions continue to grow at a rapid pace. Today, eight out of 10 consumers shop online at least twice a week. ABI Research estimates there will be 20 times more data and 40 times more mobile transactions by 2015. The report adds that mobile online shopping is expected to triple annually and rise to $119 billion in the same timeframe. Businesses today are struggling to find ways to create more contextual experiences to the right devices.
To further prove this point, more than 40% of those surveyed for “The State of Marketing 2011” now do mobile marketing and an additional 20% plan to do so within the next 12 months, as more consumers quickly adopt connected mobile devices.
The key to masterful marketing in this changing landscape is both understanding mobile users and creating a site that works on both traditional and mobile devices.
So the challenge now becomes, how does one redirect this experience to the variety of mobile devices in the market today? It’s actually not as difficult as you think. Here are five tips for creating an exceptional Web experience on mobile devices:
1) Know how the mobile channel relates to your overall marketing strategy. Mobile is a critical component of an overall multichannel marketing strategy. Knowing how mobile fits and strengthens other channels allows for better decisions regarding what content and services you offer to your mobile user (not everything from one channel should be transferred to another channel) and provides a consistent message of brand to your consumer.
2) Know your mobile consumer – It’s estimated that two thirds of consumers will use more than one channel in the process of interacting with a company. Mobile is rapidly outpacing desktop as the primary channel for customers and consumers to access information and services from an organization. Key areas to pay attention to include persistence of user preferences between channels, size of of mobile device screens and interaction patters that are specific to the device. Also consider that mobile interactions are normally shorter than other channels so content and services need to be relevant, consistent, personalized and formatted for mobile.
3) Think “Everywhere.” One strength of mobile devices is that they are carried around in purses and pockets. Even a tablet can fit into an average sized adult’s suit pant pocket. With the exception of a few zero mobile reception zones around and running out of battery power once in a while, people can be reached 24/7. How can a mobile website take advantage of this? Updates generated by the website can be sent in different ways, for example, via text messages to the smartphone instead of emails to our computer. Consider this when integrating various collaboration technologies that help with marketing campaign.
4) Social + Mobile. Consumer decisions are influenced by those around them and social media are driving these conversations at an exponential rate. Mobile web is a key channel for social conversations. Organizations better understand and influence visitors through customized, engaging experiences using social media like blogs, chat, forums, communities from both internal and external sources.
5) Know what mobile devices you are targeting. Clearly define business needs for mobile. These needs will drive what devices need to be supported. For example think about what type of experiences can be delivered to a broad range of different devices (thousands) versus an experience on newer, leading smart devices. This will help will drive the type of marketing experience can be provided. Newer smart devices have more advanced browsers (Webkit) that allow for more engaging and interactive experiences through technologies like HTML5 and CSS3. Older devices with limited web browsing capabilities will be a simpler experience will limited interactive marketing experiences.
There are many examples of masterful online mobile marketing. Typically, online forms are hard to fill out due to the small keyboard or touchpad. To improve its Web experience, The Republic of Trinidad and Tobago removed the online forms and replaced them with maps to the nearest government office so citizens can go there in person for help and fill out a paper form. It may seen old fashioned to send them to an office for live help, but it made life easier for the residents who did not own computers to complete the forms.
At the end of the day, an effective online marketing initiative is about reinventing the way you interact with consumers online and through mobile devices. Strong tools and standards knowledge can create dynamic and interactive Web experiences to better target consumers and increase brand loyalty.
Larry Bowden is the vice president of Portals and Web Experience at IBM which is part of IBM’s Software Group. He is based in Fayetteville, Arkansas.