At the end of April, ComScore reported that mobile-only Internet users finally surpassed desktop-only users. It’s a momentous finding, but it’s left a lot of marketers wondering what to do now.
The rise of mobile has led experts to caution marketers against ignoring “mobile shopping” behaviors. They’ve also been told to disrupt consumers’ digital experiences, but only with personally relevant content. And they’ve been instructed to think beyond delivering content in mobile apps and on mobile web and instead connect in more meaningful, innovative ways.
So how can brands dive into mobile in an intelligent way? And how can they ensure ROI alongside their in-store and online revenue goals? We sat down with Senior Director of the Mobile Marketing Center of Excellence at IAB, Joe Laszlo, to discuss.
Let’s tackle the mobile “don’ts” first. Are there any approaches to mobile that marketers really need to reexamine — or do away with — to make their messages more impactful and effective?
With few exceptions, I’m cautious about blanket decrees on things that marketers must or must not do. (An exception being that brands MUST have mobile-optimized websites and campaign landing pages!)
Mobile presents broad and diverse opportunities to reach prospective and existing customers alike. Any attempt to oversimplify that into a cookie-cutter set of universal best practices that can be applied to any vertical or business model may serve some marketers’ needs okay, but won’t serve everyone exceptionally well. If there is not a certain level of customization in the approach that speaks to the individual brand and its specific customer base, it won’t lead to the results most marketers want.
However, if I were to get prescriptive, I’d say marketers must avoid “flavor of the month” mobile trends. They need to think carefully about whom they are trying to reach and with what message, and that will determine the mobile tactics that will work for them.
That’s a good way to segue into the hot topic of the moment: the Apple Watch. It seems to have brought wearable technology back to the forefront of conversation for mobile marketing. Should wearables factor into a retailer or CPGs mobile strategy?
Wearables like smartwatches are still very new, and should definitely be part of research and development marketing budgets, but I would say not “real” marketing budgets for some time to come. For the moment, and probably the next 12 months, it’s probably smartest to think about wearables as a CRM opportunity, not as an advertising medium.
We may get there eventually, but ads on smartwatch-sized screens are a ways away. But companies that think hard about what a watch can do and the role smartwatch content plays in a wearer’s daily life, may well find opportunities to jump into them and build enriching and relevant brand experiences that establish better relationships with their customers.
Read more insights from Joe Laszlo featured in 5 Trends Redefining Local Marketing.
Google found 4 in 5 consumers want ads customized to their city, zip code or immediate surroundings. This insight may not seem immediately applicable to mobile, but when you start thinking about geo-fencing or beacons, it is. How would you advise marketers to begin thinking “mobile first” when looking at seemingly non-mobile behaviors?
At this point, most marketers realize that whether or not their strategies are “mobile first,” their customers are. As of now, almost two-thirds of U.S. Internet traffic comes from smartphones and tablets, and marketers must respond to this. You go where the customer goes; now that just happens to be deeper into the mobile space.
For anyone concerned that pinpointing “mobile behaviors” is challenging, the good news is there are very few behaviors that are “non-mobile.” Even for transactions or activities that are not generally done on mobile — buying a home, say — a smartphone is a vital reference tool and communication channel. Marketers can almost always identify ways that mobile can enhance a process or speed up a decision, and tap into those opportunities to enhance an overall marketing or advertising campaign.
Home Depot, as an example, is one retailer using mobile to understand those sort of behaviors and use it to increase purchasing behaviors in-store. What exactly is mobile’s strength to drive more in-store engagement and transactions?
Mobile’s greatest assets are its portability and its seamlessness. Every other medium involves a translation element to get from the message to the consumer action. I have to jot down a reminder to buy something, or I have to clip a coupon and remember to put it in my bag, or note a phone number and walk to my landline and make a call.
With mobile though, this process is so much more elegant and streamlined. Customers see a message, can add an offer to a personal shopping list, and find a nearby store location with an exact offer. And once there, they can redeem any special offers they’ve found along the way to earn loyalty points or just get a really great discount. All of that can happen on a single device — one that shoppers have on or near them at all times anyway. The specific strength is that mobile plugs directly into these existing shopping behaviors, makes them easier to do, and with more benefits to the consumer for doing them.