Mobile set to drive cross-channel engagement
With the rapid consumer adoption of mobile technologies and their device usage becoming more and more sophisticated, mobile has become a key channel for marketers to embrace in 2011 according to Sonja Keerl, product marketing manager for SDL Web Content Management Solutions.
It seems that the mobile channel is not only here to stay, but forecasts indicate that by 2014 more consumers will use mobile devices than desktop PC to access the internet. With this in mind, SDL has compiled a list of simple but effective best practices to help marketers achieve greater success in the mobile arena:
- Look before you leap This might sound pretty obvious, but 33% of all organisations still cite "to appear innovative" as a top-three reason for launching mobile initiatives. However, your main driver must be to serve the needs of your mobile audience, otherwise you may well create a mobile presence but have no mobile purpose.
And you can't assume, simply because you have studied generic research on mobile usage, that it will match the behaviour of your target audience. For example, in Western Europe an average of only 12% of online visitors are using the mobile channels on a very sophisticated level, but in the United Kingdom this group is already up to 22%. If your target group is among the 25-34 year old British population, you will find that 43% of them to be always online with their mobiles.
So, before starting to implement mobile solutions, sit back and think about what your mobile audience really expects from you and assess their current level of mobile technology adoption.
- Mobile web site, or mobile app? A common question asked by companies is whether to go mobile web or mobile app. The two should not be in conflict, but complement each other. It depends on what goal you want to achieve and what purpose you want to serve. Don't let design aspects lead your choice at this stage; modern mobile websites can feel just as 'cool' as apps.
As a rule, if you want to reach the general mobile audience, you should start with mobile web. Make sure your mobile website concentrates on serving the purpose of a mobile audience and offers easy access to all that is relevant to visitors on the go. But if you have a customer base with very specific needs, you might decide to go for a mobile app. Typical examples are mobile online banking, or airline apps for booking and check-in of flights.
We are also increasingly seeing hybrid apps, where you have an app in the app stores, but it is really just a layer on top of your mobile website. The app handles some typical features, like navigation, but the actual content and functionality is on the mobile website. This is a good compromise if you want to reach that global audience but also want to have a presence in the app stores.
Whatever system you employ, it must feed content to both mobile apps and mobile web to ensure that multimedia assets and customer information can be reused in all channels. Content reuse ensures that customers are not faced with a disconnected mobile experience.
- Mobile is not just the iPhone There is a common assumption that mobile web visitors are only using a few dominant devices, such as the iPhone, Blackberry or Android phones. This is not true - for the UK alone, according to mobile metrics from SDL's partner Netbiscuits, an average of 1,800 different types of devices access Netbiscuits-based mobile websites each month. And the top four devices only account for 28% of the mobile site requests, leaving a very 'long tail' of 72% of traffic scattered across other devices.
If an organisation is acting globally, these metrics are dramatically different for other markets. In total, there are approximately 30,000 different, active combinations of devices, mobile operating systems and mobile browsers - making the delivery of the best possible mobile experience, for each individual visitor, a daunting task. This mobile diversity means that IT departments could face meltdown by having to keep up with the ever-changing landscape of mobile devices, operating system and browsers.
So, it is crucial to have a solution in place which automatically optimizes mobile sites for all devices - using a single template that defines the structure of a mobile website. The best solution should ensure that whenever a new device or OS update enters the mobile market, the optimization rules are already known upfront. This means that mobile marketers will never leave their mobile customers with frustrating mobile websites.
It is difficult enough for content managers to optimize content for mobile experiences - they should not have to worry about the technicalities of device optimization. What is important is that they can preview the result of the optimization easily within their content management system, so they always know what's going on.
- Shift from multi-channel marketing to cross-channel engagement Mobile engagement is much more than just serving information via the mobile channel. The art of digital engagement is to look at what the customer is trying to achieve then support them, via all channels, enabling them to reach their goal. So instead of trying to cram as much information into as many channels as possible, marketers must ensure that their key channels serve information relevant to each customer.
Mixing these channels so that they support each other is crucial. For example, mobile users may look up something on the mobile web but will not engage in detailed research. So, to keep their attention, mobile websites should always have a "read up later" option that sends an email with the link to the visited page. Capturing the visitor's email address through a form then enables the marketing team to introduce further touch points, both now, and in the future.
Marketers need a solution that gives their digital teams the freedom to manage their own realm, independent of each other, but also to ensure that different channels can reuse common assets. Such a system must also ensure the consistency of brand identity and message in all channels, and if the reach is global - enable the reuse and consistency of translations.
Enabling advanced customer engagement also means that a system should gather visitor intelligence from all digital channels and make this intelligence actionable. So, whatever marketers learn in any channel about a customer, they can reuse in all channels to target and personalise the touch point - delivering a more relevant customer experience.
Putting the customer first is the key to successful cross-channel engagement. An 'engaged' customer will have a better brand experience, will be more satisfied and more likely to convert.