Mobile brand interactions getting more personal
Just when online marketers were getting a handle on website personalisation and conversion rate optimisation for their websites, the extreme growth of mobile commerce has thrown a new challenge into the mix, according to Mark Simpson, president and founder of Maxymiser.
Simply creating a cut down version of the website for the mobile platform is not enough, Simpson warns. In fact, to maximise brand loyalty and improve the timeliness and relevance of customer offers, organisations need to take into account both the limitations of the mobile platform - not least screen size - and the very different ways consumers will use the mobile to interact with the brand.
By 2015, it is estimated that shoppers around the world will spend about US$119 billion on goods and services via their mobile phones, according to a study by ABI Research, so it is important to ensure that the level of sophistication, segmentation and personalisation that is now being achieved online is also mirrored in mobile sites.
Organisations are already discovering the value of true personalisation online, leveraging real time insights into each customer's known interests and needs to optimise content and offers, and to drive greater long-term brand engagement and loyalty. Creating the right mobile offer with the same highly effective personalisation, however, requires more than simply translating an existing web site to support mobile devices.
Customer modelling is essential to really target the right customers with the right content at the right time, and to predict what those customers will probably want to do next with the brand. However, with a smaller area of real estate (that is, the rather limited screen size of the average mobile device) than is available to traditional web sites, mobile marketers need to be far more precise and accurate with personalisation.
With traditional web sites, they can display a great deal of information across different areas on each page, 90% of which can be irrelevant to the consumer as long as the 10% that is relevant is in a prominent position and works effectively. But this luxury is not applicable to the mobile platform. With limited screen size, marketers have got to ensure the right content is put in front of the consumer, in the right format, first time around. And that has to happen without even being able to exploit other 'test areas' on the page. There is absolutely no room for guesswork.
There are also other considerations: page load times are generally slower on mobiles than on the web, so think about the timing of content and number of steps you put a visitor through. Marketers also need to understand how the consumer is interacting with the brand, and whether that will vary from mobile phones to tablets. For example, is it worth considering the development of a parallel mobile site that takes into account the different functionality and features of a tablet device compared to a simple mobile phone handset, such as a larger screen size or the practical ability to use a keyboard? The decision will of course depend on the brand and the sophistication of the mobile offer, but it is an issue that requires consideration and planning.
Marketers therefore need to consider how and why the consumer will be using the mobile to interact with the brand, and how that process could or should differ from the traditional web site interaction. For example, a banking customer is unlikely to want to complete a loan application on the mobile, but would probably be happy to use their mobile to check account balances or find the location of the nearest branch.
And there are other opportunities to add innovative services, such as location based services, to enhance the customer's experience. But use these functions wisely: for example, augmented reality (AR) using the mobile's camera can be novel and compelling, but how relevant is it going to be to the consumer audience?
Critically, the mobile must be approached as one of many channels to market. Consumers now expect a consistent brand experience, look, and offer irrespective of channel. Any personalisation on the mobile site must be mirrored on other platforms, including any tablet-specific site and the web site. So, for example, an airline customer checking their flight details should receive the same offer of an upgrade, discounted hotel or car hire, regardless of whether they use the web site or a mobile site.
Indeed, mobile interactions can add even deeper insight into customer behaviours, all of which can then be used to improve the modelling techniques that determine the next best offer, content or action. In essence, the mobile provides another channel that should be used by brands not only to enhance the customer experience but also to monitor and improve it.
With the mobile channel taking an ever increasing proportion of online revenue, it is essential for organisations to come to terms with the challenges and opportunities associated with mobile personalisation. The speed of development is far outpacing that of the online channel, putting greater pressure on marketers to meet the needs of an ever more demanding and sophisticated consumer audience.
Marketers can't simply take their existing web site and offer it to the mobile marketplace; not only must the site reflect the advantages and limitations of the mobile platform but it must also take into consideration the very different ways in which consumers will interact with the brand via mobile devices.
We must therefore make use of iterative testing to ensure that mobile sites are being developed correctly, using segmentation and personalisation techniques to maximise the usage of the mobile platform for consumers. If this is done correctly, e-commerce businesses will be well placed to provide a consistent customer experience across all their digital channels, thereby reinforcing both brand loyalty and engagement.