In November, 2014, Forrester released a report the predicted in 2015, we’re going to see a dire lack of investment in mobile and quality mobile experiences. Specifically, the report predicted that “Mobile-shifted marketers will transform their brands’ customer experiences and drive business outcomes by taking a sophisticated approach that focuses on how to activate mobile experiences. Success stories will be few in number” (emphasis mine). So the question for marketers, and the question we’re going to (attempt) to answer in this post is: how do you ensure that you and yours are one of the few?
Why mobile marketing is important
Mobile marketing is going to continue to disrupt the business status quo (in a good way). Here are the high-level nuggets that really illustrate why mobile is super important:
- 42% of people globally will have a smart phone by the end of the year (that’s 3.067 billion people, by the way)
- The expectation is no longer that you have a website – now, the expectation is that you have an entire multi-platform experience tailored to the customer
- Mobile is going to get a lot of money thrown at it
- Mobile advertising spend and saturation are going to swell to astronomical proportions
All this to say…
Mobile’s going to be super important this year. Like, really important. Take a wander down your list of emails and newsletters in your inbox. How many of them are about mobile experiences, mobile offerings, mobile spend, analytics, or app development? A lot, if your inbox looks anything like mine. People are not only going to be on mobile, but expect you to be as well. What’s more, the expectation is going to be that you are only on the same device as your consumers, but precisely where they are in terms of geolocation, real-time offerings, and cross-network and cross-platform integration. So how do you capitalize on this and make sure that you’re providing a quality mobile product?
Mobile-optimize your organization
This is really why mobile is so interesting. Until now, most organizations have wrapped up mobile with digital marketing. And with good reason – there has been a tremendous crossover of ideas and shared objectives. The people making beautiful website experiences are also very good at making mobile experiences.
The era of mobile being an add-on to the digital marketing suite should be drawing to a close. With Forrester throwing around incendiary language like “completely redesign internal customer support processes” the notion of a mobile-specific team isn’t exactly out of left field. But like any innovation that requires a structural change, getting a mobile department is going to be one mean feat.
On a smaller scale…
If complete structural overhaul is well, a completely ridiculous expectation, then what organizations can do is create a pool of dedicated mobile resources. Invest both the money and the people to do the job right. This includes:
- Earmarking design and development time to create mobile-specific ads (or getting someone else to do it)
- Earmarking the money to buy mobile ad time, for example on Snapchat, which is likely to expand their advertising suite in the next ten months
- Hire marketers and other key personnel based on their mobile experience – that resource will become invaluable with time
- Start thinking about your digital marketing from a mobile perspective. Designing websites ‘mobile first’ is a common strategy in web design – do the same for you mobile efforts
- Start designing mobile experiences (more on that later)
Strategize your mobile marketing
With the App Store literally exploding with new apps all the time, it seems clear that getting an app as a stand-alone marketing strategy isn’t going to work. Why?
Let’s put it into a different context.
Let’s say you were running a Super Bowl ad. You wouldn’t buy the pricy ad space with no follow up, no greater context, no matching print campaign, and with no additional promotion at all (well, you might if you’re Apple). Generally speaking, Super Bowl commercials exist as the centrepiece to a broader campaign. That’s the approach you need to take with your mobile marketing.
Particularly important isn’t just how a mobile experience is going to come together (development), but how all the different pieces are going to fit together in a larger context. Uber, for example, is really excellent at this. Not only can you book an Uber ride from their app, but you can also do it directly from the United app and Google Maps. Basically, they’ve made themselves present in the context that users actually want to use them, rather than just focusing on the experience provided by the Uber app.
That’s what I mean by strategy. Companies need to approach mobile holistically, looking at the entire digital landscape to really understand how their users are going to engage with them on their mobile devices, and how they can best meet that engagement.
Providing experiences is the most important aspect
This is key to maximizing the mobile bonanza that’s going on right now. As I mentioned, companies need to begin strategizing holistically and consider all the various ways to engage consumers, in particular taking into consideration the context and the environment in which their mobile experiences are being consumed.
So what does this actually look like?
To be a successful mobile-forward company, that is creating positive mobile experiences companies need to focus on two things:
- Push notifications and micro interactions
Personalization will be essential for brands to create positive experiences. For starters, there’s going to be an enormous proliferation of messaging and stimuli forced onto consumers. Already this is happening, with notifications coming from all sorts of apps with all sorts of info. What’s more, with more devices per person (e.g. a wearable watch and a smartphone) this is set to intensify. So part of the reason that personalization is going to be important is just to stand out from the everyday digital hubbub.
Second, a personalized experience is going to be increasingly achievable as our ability to gather and more importantly interpret data improves. Very quickly, there’s going to be the expectation that an experience is tailored rather than bulk shipped.
For example, let’s say you’re a consumer shopping at a supermarket, and you get a push notification from their app telling you ‘hey, I noticed that you buy butter pretty often. It’s on sale right now, and if you get it today, you’ll get an extra 10% off! Thanks for using our app :)’
That would definitely entice me to buy.
But now when you go over to the pharmacy, you expect that same level of personalized shopping experience.
This is what is happening all the time. As the maximum possible quality of user experience increases, so too does the quality of the MVP. Just as it’s no longer acceptable to have a single page website built in flash, companies will be unable to drive sales with generic mobile messaging.
Push notifications and micro interactions
Honestly, this is one of my favourite developments, and I think one of the most interesting. First, a micro interaction is an interaction between a user and a device that happens in about a second.
Think about the time it takes you to glance at your watch (not smart watch) and tell the time. That’s a micro interaction.
When someone sends you a Snapchat and their name pops up in your menu bar on your phone, that’s a micro interaction – users very quickly decide if they want to engage further or leave it for later.
These tiny interactions, perhaps dozens of times a day, are going to make or break a mobile experience. They’re the equivalent of landing pages for sales – it’s a small, critical window to hook users into your mobile thing and thus demonstrate how useful you are to them. It’s hard. But I feel that if companies can nail the push notification experience, then they’ll be well on their way to getting the largest mobile strategy right.
Money is flowing into mobile like water into the Titanic. In order to make good on that investment and keep your bottom line and your users happy with what you’re packing, then that money needs to be spent carefully.
- Invest in the people and the time to design and develop mobile experiences that are mobile first, not mobile-adapted
- Invest the time and resources into providing a personalized and tailored experience for your users, built for specific context and environments
- Invest the time and resources to develop, test, and perfect your push notifications and micro interactions with your users, because that’s what they’re going to remember you by
Over the next nine months, companies are going to have to get their mobile game together. Are you going to be one of the few success stories?