Many times over the last couple of months, I’ve found myself in the company of old friends and new acquaintances who have asked me a version of the following question: “How would you go about using mobile marketing to advertise my product or service?”
I tell them that the marketing world, while more complex than ever, has changed for the better in the last five years. Prior to that, owning the customer relationship was extremely difficult. Marketers instead sought to maximize the reach and frequency of their messages in the hopes that they would resonate and encourage hoped-for behaviors. That’s why so many of us sympathized with the notion that we knew that 50 percent of our marketing was effective and 50 percent was ineffective. We just didn’t know which half was which.
Today, it’s not only possible for marketing to serve, celebrate, and measure an active, engaged core audience. It’s essential. While I acknowledge that every business is different, and there is no magic formula that would work each and every time, here are five components of what I consider a solid foundation to a user-centric, mobile-friendly marketing strategy. Doing these five things will increase the chances that your marketing results in high quality engagement.
- Cement your objectives: That sounds obvious, but based on what I see and read every day, there are lots of worried executives out there who sense their businesses need to be more aggressive in mobile but don’t know how. The result can seem like a vague “Do something” strategy. Focusing instead on measurable objectives will encourage disciplined thinking and push panic aside. It also will help illuminate specific problems, which, when solved, are likely to improve some aspect of the business.
- Concentrate mobile marketing on opt-in channels: Because mobile devices offer more data about their users than any other medium I know, it’s tempting to think of mobile marketing as a more precise way to target consumers at scale. While that’s true, the vehicles with which to do this can either be intrusive (more on this in a moment) or at risk for ineffectiveness, e.g. tiny banners that run in apps and in browsers. Instead, experiment with Facebook to determine the right content and frequency of product updates for your community. Some find sponsored posts obnoxious, but if they are targeted based on good data, I recommend trying them, too. Tweet updates to your followers. Explore ways to build in-app messaging into your apps, and make sure your mobile apps and website include ways for consumers to share their information with you. Also, paid search will reach only those users who are looking for something relevant to the market you serve.
- Revisit your social media strategy: Worried that targeting just opt-ins will limit your reach? Address that concern head-on by boosting your social media marketing. Revisit your recruitment and outreach to ensure your brand’s doors are wide open to your consumers. Are you celebrating actual users with posts, photos, and videos? Do you reach out to customers who have contacted your company for service via Facebook or Twitter to make sure they’ve been satisfied? Have you tried contests, promotions, or giveaways? Given how frequently people use Facebook on mobile, have you visited your company or product page on your smartphone to make sure it looks and works great? All these tactics can grow your opt-in user base, excite your existing base, or both.
- Proactively build a measurement plan: When’s the last time you saw a funnel analysis that showed how customers went from becoming aware of your product all the way to acquiring and even recommending it? If it’s been a while, now is the time to address it, especially given how many businesses experience a seasonality spike in the fourth calendar quarter. If you can measure how efficiently your marketing builds and converts awareness into consideration, preference, purchase, and recommendation, you’ll be able to focus your investments on problem solving. The good news is that mobile marketing can generate a lot of useful data, data that can tell you when and where customers are engaging your products and channels. Make sure that your metrics include these mobile inputs.
- Promise yourself you won’t be creepy: Your customers see their mobile screens, including smartphones and tablets, as a digital experience apart from their computers. I think that has everything to do with the efforts they make to customize those screens with people/contacts, music, photographs, videos, apps, browser bookmarks, and more. The result is a device that’s far more personalized than any other tool or gadget we own. Most people are wary of unwanted intrusions by advertisers because, unlike everything else on those screens, they can’t control what someone else forces into their mobile diet. Be sensitive to these concerns because that empathy will help you avoid creeping out your customers.
I’m passionate about marketing that embraces its essential role as a voice of the consumer and the most powerful mechanism for filling the space between a product line and end users. When I used to market video games, I’d eagerly seek out the advertising I and others had worked so hard to concept, test, and produce, and I’d hang out at retail to watch customers engage and hopefully buy them. I always wanted to know how these customers came to discover my product.
Now, with the ascension of social media and mobile marketing, I can build and have conversations with my audience. I can empower them to become evangelists. I can solve their problems. I can make it easy for them to stay current on the latest news. I can ask them for feedback that will improve the experience for future consumers.
It’s a marketer’s dream.