Understanding the different phases in the customer cycle will put your mobile strategy into better perspective.
There are many people who are advocating that this is the year for mobile. Current data and trends show that mobile impressions have grown last year and suggest they will increase dramatically in the future. Furthermore, wireless devices and the number of apps sold for various platforms continue to grow in record numbers. This has caused many to sit down and consider their own mobile strategy and how they are going to compete in the marketplace.
I was impressed by a presentation that Jeremiah Owyang gave last week on mobile strategy. He made a very compelling point that we should consider looking beyond just features (which is tactical) and align our mobile strategy to the entire customer experience. He maps out this customer experience in seven phases:
Understanding each of these phases in the customer cycle will put your strategy into better perspective. So I will outline six steps that you can use that will help you develop your mobile strategy with the customer cycle in mind.
1. Define target audience and personas. Identify and define your target audience and break them down into personas. A persona is an archetypal user or searcher that represents the needs of larger groups of users, in terms of their goals and personal characteristics. They act as "stand-ins" for real users and help guide decisions about website functionality and behavioral site design. Personas will help you become more personable with your target audience and help you map out specific needs with each persona you define.
2. Conduct your research. As with any strategy, you need to conduct the proper research to learn more about your audience and their needs. Find out from your customers what devices and platforms they are using. Are they using any tools or apps? If so, which ones? Find out what their pain points are. You can do this by polling them, participating with them on the social web, or by doing market research. Make sure you conduct this research for each persona as the needs and goals might differ.
3. Develop your mobile solution. With the research you have conducted, you now have the basis to decide how you are going to meet your customers' needs. You know what their pain points are and can develop a solution that will alleviate that pain. As you develop this solution, continue to ask yourself how this tool will help meet the needs of each persona. This will help you stay focused.
Remember that mobile is about delivering valuable services and solutions that is optimized for mobile devices. It is different than using a PC to access the Internet. Take advantage of GPS and location- based services and provide information as it is needed and not all at once. You should be sensitive to the small form factors of mobile devices and design content to show only what is needed as customers interact with your solution.
4. Design your pricing model. As you are building your solution, consider how you can reduce the friction and allow purchasing to happen in very few clicks. Consider how you can enable customers to pre-pay for your product or service. Jeremiah even suggests we may see future models where we can post-pay to help speed up the process. He also mentions that the point of purchase is no longer limited to the physical location. Starbucks started offering mobile payments at the beginning of the year.
The goal here is to reduce the friction and allow the purchasing to happen in very few clicks, making it as easy as possible for the customer to make the payment.
5. Develop your support model. It is not over after the purchase has been made. You need to continue to nurture the customer experience further by providing the proper support and help them when they need it. This can be done with self-help mechanisms like frequently asked questions (FAQ) or other documented information the customer can access on their own.
You can also create ways for them to get support from their peers through social media tools or support forums. Finally, make sure you have ways for them to contact you directly if need be. There is nothing more frustrating than not being able to find an answer to a question online and then realize there is no way to contact a company directly.
Your support model is also a great device you can use to listen and get feedback for suggestions and proposed improvements. Many good ideas for future product features can come directly from your customers.
6. Develop retention or loyalty programs. Loyalty programs are based on gaining a long-term commitment from your customers. What kind of program can you put in place to keep your customers loyal to you? Do you have any kind of rewards program or incentives you can offer? One thing to consider as you develop this model is how to reward not only long-term customers but also those influencers and their ability to share with others.
By having a great customer support model and loyalty program in place, you are on your way to create advocates for your brand. If your customers are treated well and consistently nurtured, they will share with their friends and become a new source of leads for you.
Consider each of these steps and how you might make them actionable within your own company. If you remember to keep your customer and their needs in focus, then you will be on your way to developing compelling solutions that will help you prosper in the mobile space.
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Ron was president/CEO of Symetri Internet Marketing, which provides strategic SEM consulting and training. Ron was actively involved in the SEM community and spoke and trained at conferences and seminars. Ron also served on the Board of Directors for SEMPO and was one of the authors for the SEMPO Institute Fundamentals and Advanced courses.
Ron also published a book called Keyword Intelligence: Keyword Research for Search Social and Beyond. This book outlines various methods and tips for conducting keyword research but more importantly outlines many ways to use keyword research for social media, site design, content development and marketing, and even traditional marketing and branding.
Ron passed away on June 30, 2012.
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