Tue May 21,2013
Thomas Enraght-Moony Former CEO
As mobile ad spend continues to rise, Thomas Enraght-Moony explains how brands can maximise this channel’s effectiveness.
Brands must view mobile as a relationship channel to ensure customer retention.
Photograph: Isopix/Rex Features
News that mobile advertising spend has more than doubled is great for everyone in the mobile ecosystem. The bad news is there’s a serious risk of disconnect developing between brands’ mobile advertising investment and mobile relationship investment.
If that happens, mobile ad spend will become far less effective and mobile will be seen as delivering below-par return on investment (ROI). Worst of all, customers are likely to become disillusioned with brands using mobile as a marketing channel.
This would be a huge disservice to the potential value of mobile marketing for both brands and consumers.
Dealing with this disconnect requires a shift in mindset. Mobile advertising is a fantastic way to acquire customers. But we’ve seen over the past 10 years that making that investment effective long-term, means holding on to those customers. Mobile must be viewed as a relationship channel, deserving of a retention strategy.
A solid strategy builds a relationship by offering customers benefits or rewards they genuinely value, to keep them coming back to the mobile channel. For example, nearly 70% of tablet owners make a purchase on their device every month, yet brands will only be able to capitalise on this trend by developing a more in-depth mobile relationship.
Understanding what customers value has been made easier by the tracking that is available through apps and mobile sites. It’s now possible to predict not only how likely a customer is to respond positively to a particular mobile campaign, but also the reward or benefit that will most excite them.
Deciding what customer data is most useful for accurate prediction will depend on the brand and target market. Advanced analysis can prove remarkably accurate and it doesn’t have to be as complex as you might think.
For example, BMW ran a mobile campaign for snow tyres, targeting all customers who purchased a vehicle in the summer with a timely reminder message in October, when the snow started falling. By personalising the message with the recommended tyre for the individual customer’s car and an option to call, or get a call back from their closest dealer, BMW was able to significantly increase effectiveness, and capitalise on the unique functionality of mobile.
Once you’ve got data you can use, the next element of an effective mobile relationship strategy is the ability to execute it in as close to real time as possible. This is a very different skillset, and requires a technology platform that can respond immediately to key customer behaviour, and trigger an offer or message relevant not only to the customer, but to the moment.
Understanding mobile as a relationship channel means understanding opt-in, the right time to push a message, the right mobile channel to push it on (whether using SMS, MMS, in-app notifications or email), the right frequency and the right offer based on the individual customer.
Mobile relationship strategies can also be tightly integrated with existing mobile marketing and loyalty programmes. This could mean following up an app download with an SMS or in-app push notification. Perhaps offering a 4G upgrade bundle, a discount for a new store in a customer’s neighbourhood, or an invitation to an exclusive branded event.
A “closed-loop” approach to mobile data will also continually enrich your database, by recording how individual customers respond to particular campaigns, learning from those responses and applying it to future targeting strategies.
If brands want to build a mobile relationship, they must build trust though messages that increasingly focus on customer preferences and individual moments such as birthdays and membership anniversaries. The only alternative to not having a mobile relationship strategy is to spend more money, acquiring more new customers to replace the ones that have left.
With any investment, marketing professionals must demonstrate return. Only a mobile relationship strategy can turn a one-time advertising investment into a long-term conversation that gets you closer to your customers.
Thomas Enraght-Moony is the Former CEO at Lumata