Chambers: Five mobile marketing mistakes

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By: Nick Chambers, CLMP™ |

Posted on April 13, 2017

Chambers: Five mobile marketing mistakes A clear indication how far customers have shifted to mobile can simply be found by looking at Facebook's mobile ad revenues for 2016, which represents 80 percent of total ad revenue.  Only three years ago, mobile accounted for around 20 percent of the social network's ad revenue.  This shift means that marketers can no longer afford to ignore mobile - and they can no longer afford costly mobile marketing mistakes In his latest column, contributing editor Nick Chambers outlines five common mobile marketing mistakes – and advises us how to avoid making them.  By Nick Chambers
The business implications of changing consumer behavior on mobile devices are reshaping entire industries. These changes mean that companies must now respond with carefully considered mobile strategies if they are to stay relevant.  Whilst mobile strategies are slowly beginning to mature, there are several pain points that continue to frustrate marketers.  Here are five key problem areas marketers must address in 2017 if they are to succeed in the transformational world of mobile.

1. Putting apps before strategy

As mobile technology continues to evolve, marketing strategies must also change.  Most smartphone owners have already developed fixed patterns of behavior and, as a result, new brand offerings are frequently ignored.  Forrester Research finds that the average UK smartphone owner spends 89 percent of their app time on just five apps: Facebook, WhatsApp, Youtube, Stocks and Maps.

Breaking into this selection of favored apps is nigh-on impossible for those brands that do not have a high frequency of usage or purchase.  Instead of simply assuming apps are the answer, marketers need to think more creatively about how they can leverage mobile to reach and engage consumers over an ongoing basis.

With most consumers using search, rather than apps, to find content, mobile web experiences have a huge bearing on how effectively marketers can reach their target customers.  Google has made further updates including a feature that supports push notifications in web browsers, not just apps.

Forward-thinking brands are also now turning their attention to messaging apps, as they look to serve customers in those apps where they spend most of their time.  Last year, American retailers Everlane and Zulily became the first brands to try Facebook Messenger as a customer service platform.  The Dutch airline KLM plans to offer booking confirmation and boarding passes via the app, whilst the UK shoe retailer Clarks has used WhatsApp to share promotional messages with their customers.

2. Failure to personalize

Smartphones are intensely personal devices, and yet recent research shows that marketers lack confidence in their personalisation strategies.  A recent survey by digital agency Greenlight finds that 88 percent of UK marketers believe their brand is lagging behind competitors in their use of personalization, while only 24 percent say they personalize on mobile devices.

To overcome this challenge, brands and publishers are searching for ways to better personalize the mobile experience.  For example, visitors to the Powder mobile site can create their own personal beauty profile, which allows the service to deliver bespoke advice and product recommendations based on the information they provide.  The site takes into account a range of personal characteristics such as age, skin type, make-up preferences and price points. Users can then purchase recommended products or save them in a "virtual beauty drawer."

For all brands, this ability to deliver personalized messages is a key attraction, especially when the subsequent engagement can be used to gain deeper insight into predicting on-going consumer behaviors.

3. Ignoring the data Many brands have yet to grasp the market research potential of mobile.  This dearth of understanding is partly due to a lack of imagination from marketers in thinking about how their mobile activity might have an effect on consumers’ in store behaviour, and vice-versa.

Electronics retailer Dixons Carphone has revealed the results of a research project with Google that aimed to quantify the relationship between the company's spend on search marketing and its offline sales.  This research involved creating a "ROPO" (research online, purchase offline) study that cross-referenced two years' worth of the retailer's sales and media spend data with Google's search spend data.

From the resultant statistical model, the retailer discovered that for every online sale achieved through paid search, the company achieved three offline sales.  This learning helped the retailer identify the extent to which people were using mobiles to research products before purchasing in-store, which in turn enabled the company to adjust its investment in mobile search to boost sales and return on investment.

4. Obtrusive mobile advertising Research by eMarketer predicted that by the end of 2016 the global mobile advertising market will surpass $100 billion and account for more than 50 percent of all digital ad spend.  Marketers need to rethink their approach to mobile advertising and meet the demand for less annoying or data-draining ads. In the words of Tumblr co-founder Marco Arment: "Web advertising and behavioral tracking are out of control. They're unacceptably creepy, bloated, annoying, and insecure, and they're getting worse at an alarming pace.  Ad and tracker abuse is much worse on mobile."

The growth of programmatic ad trading on mobile, where ads are served automatically according to different data points such as location or browsing history, is helping to improve the consumer experience.  With the technology and data already there, the opportunity for brands to deliver more contextually relevant messages is also now there too.

5. Under-investment in mobile Forrester Research predicts that most brands will under-invest in mobile because too many marketers still have a narrow view of mobile as a "sub-digital media and channel."  Their "2016 Mobile and App Marketing Trends" report found that only 20 percent of marketers feel their companies are investing enough in mobile, while just a third are confident about how to measure mobile ROI.

While most brands are trying to mobilise their content, few are going the extra mile: serving their customers in their mobile "moments" by transforming the entire customer experience.  Emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence, virtual reality (VR), and the Internet of Things will help focus on the mobile device to activate these technologies with customers and enable business-to-consumer marketers to innovate.

In this context, whilst all brands must make mobile a core priority in 2017, only a growing minority of leading brands will start to fully integrate mobile into their marketing strategies.

Nick Chambers is CEO of Mobile Loyalty Technologies and a partner in the Customer Strategy Network.