No Need for Rogue Mobile

As marketers eagerly embrace and explore any given, newest “channel,” they always encounter fresh issues, technologies, regulations, obstacles, and opportunities. And, with new layers of input, our data-age, celebrated Big Data gets even bigger. As one of these channels, mobile is still on this curve for many marketers racing to get up to speed and operational on the opportunity.

As our practices and methods mature, and we refine the so-called best of these, the challenge of channel entry and effectiveness is further complicated by an industry-within-the-industry, where technology and customer adoption are both evolving at record speeds, perhaps more quickly than in any other. As the industry tears forward, tech and customer adoption fuel one another at record speed.

To date, there has been surging experimental innovation and haphazard attempts at simply porting over and tweaking what we did in the most recent other new channels to juice progress in the world of mobile. If we want to be effective, to measure and learn and scale, we must focus on consistency, and the smart application of tried and true. We are wise to eschew the haphazard and play smart as mobile marketing best practices emerge. This comes down to a focus on setting clear goals and making rational choices to service those goals.

A Quick Look at the Concept of the Marketing Goal Itself

If you think about channel progression, you might say we’ve progressed past the definition itself.

It started with outdoor advertising: a simple message to consumers passing by, with a simple goal of awareness, of which had no other purpose than purchase. Then as each new communication channel was born, shortly thereafter, we found ways to borrow or buy time on that channel for the same simple two-step purpose – drive awareness and inspire a purchase. Newspaper or magazine telemarketing, radio, and even television advertising – they all were territory for the quest.

And, by the late ’60s, we had direct marketing. It wasn’t until 25 years later that we did have a “new channel,” primarily considered another form of direct marketing – and that was email. Less than 10 years later, brands and publishers were embracing the Internet and we had more than a new channel – we had exploding new ways to engage with consumers, capture data, and influence the bottom line directly, indirectly, immediately, and over time. Enter digital.

With all new advertising real estate, new ways to communicate, and methods to measure those engagements, beyond ultimate sales, we begin to define new goals, and new metrics. The channel was interactive, the data was rich (or at least immense), and we could, for the first time measure things besides purchase, and capture behaviors in real-time.

But as fast as we were pushing the digital, engagement, and marketing envelopes, we began getting lost in the data and technology – and yearning for our simple and easy to measure goal. Did I sell more? Did I make more money?We started asking ourselves the uncomfortable questions – checking ourselves.

And just as we were getting comfortable with having to step up to the big opportunity and hard work in digital, and getting those questions answered…in comes mobile. Mobile smartphones. Mobile tablets. So, maybe, one of our best big lessons around mobile is, “slow down.”

To situate to play smart with mobile and with a clear map, simply ask – is the goal awareness, engagement, or conversion?

  • If it’s awareness – you’ll measure lift. That is, population, area, or store-based lift. And, you’ll measure it over time.
  • For engagement as the goal – you’ll measure response. And always apply what you learn. Also, measure lift against response rates.
  • Conversion. This one is more nuanced. If the conversion can occur in the communication channel by which you are reaching out (think telemarketing, where you can order over the phone), then by all means – measure conversion (purchase, registration). If, however, the user has to change channels to convert – measure response. If you have an opt-in relationship with the consumer, you should be able to take the simple additional step, and measure conversion, as well.

And take heart – because when a purchase or sign-up experience can be designed and executed on a smartphone or tablet – this is ideal. So, we should savor the ability provided by this channel to measure as well as the clarity of that direct channel attribution. This level of mobile device engagement is where the world is headed – so keep figuring it out.

It’s worth noting that out-of-channel purchase attribution, as well as omni-channel views, tactics, and measurements, should only be a focus after a customer has opted-in to each of the coordinated channels. Attempts to the contrary will more often lead to costs of the effort being greater than the benefit of knowing.

I’m not suggesting we halt the kind of experimental innovation we’ve seen or stop pushing channel boundaries. But, I’m advocating a better tie between goal and approach, with each and every execution. Clearly, goals should be measured by metrics tied directly to the channel aptitude as well as to the more subjective measured, delight of the customer.

No, neither of these measurements ties deterministically to the bottom line – but neither does TV advertising, and yet we don’t question why we spend there!

The driving force of a mobile-led campaign should always be the goal. But that goal, by nature of the beast, should only at times be measured indirectly, and the focus or aim of direct measurement – attribution – should live directly in the tried and true: measuring lift, response, and conversion.

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