The Next Stop for Everywhere Marketing: Mobile Apps

Has mobile achieved “first-screen” status? All evidence suggests it’s certainly on its way. Mobile searches this year are forecast to surpass desktop searches, even as Google ups the ante by telling companies they will be penalized if their websites are not optimized for mobile users.

Message to retailers, comScore has reported that two-thirds of the time consumers spend in online retail occurred on mobile devices. So, how can brands be more agile in mobile, convert more customers in increasingly all app environments, while boosting consistency and relevance for customers across every channel?

Continuous Optimization

That’s a tall order, as the marketing team knows. To explore these challenges Forrester senior analyst James McCormick introduced the concept of “continuous optimization” in a recent American Marketing Association (AMA) webinar entitled, “How to Optimize Mobile Moments in Real-time Through Omni-channel Digital Intelligence.”

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Continuous optimization is supported by a basic strategy summed up as “learning from each moment the customer digitally engages with us, to improve the next.”

It’s an analytics-driven strategy, which continuously leverages every touch point with the customer. How far along that road are marketing teams? Forrester conducted research among companies to identify the current state of omni-channel marketing across four dimensions, concluding that optimization teams “have made a start, but have a ways to go.”

  • Use multiple techniques to test, learn and target. Segmentation strategies across multiple channels are critical. But Forrester found that companies focused primarily on A/B testing and had limited integration among test, learn and application components, or uniform strategy across touch points.
  • Leverage optimization techniques in all digital interactive channels. Most companies are highly focused on the web to exclusive of other channels. And mobile, in particular, was very nascent, according to McCormick. Measurement and analytics are clearly in early days when it comes to optimizing mobile.
  • Optimize the experience of customers at every point of the customer life cycle. Forrester research indicated that companies focus on customer acquisition to the exclusivity of other elements of the life cycle.
  • Optimize the experience within every single customer engagement. Marketers tend to understand engagement on owned properties but much less so for other touch points, according to Forrester.

Mobile – The Newest Frontier

All this signals enormous opportunity for marketers to optimize engagement with customers across every channel, and at every touch point. And mobile, as the newest frontier in digital marketing, offers the biggest opportunities.

Marketers have a choice when it comes to using mobile as a platform. Mobile web-based applications, for example, leverage traditional web technologies, sending users back to websites. However, they don’t leverage the full power of mobile devices. In contrast, native mobile apps are developed from the ground up, depend on developers for initial coding and deliver high-impact experiences.

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You’ll remember that native mobile apps began as a “cool” addition to the digital universe, many of them in gaming. But they’ve now become fundamental to mobile marketing to support business, and some of the largest companies on the planet depend on them. Consider that native ads in apps and on mobile sites have been reported as having two-to-five times more engagement than banner ads. But challenges already solved for web-based marketing require new approaches in the mobile app world. Marketing teams need to develop capabilities to do the following:

  • Dynamically collect mobile app data. Extend tagging to your mobile apps. Integrate your mobile data with other online, offline or offsite data at the user level to create omni-channel user profiles.
  • Optimize the mobile app experience. Increase the effectiveness of apps by using A/B and multivariate testing practices. Identify what works best for users, as you swap in-app content in real-time. Let your creativity be the guide as updated content may be anything from a change in preferred button colors to better navigational processes.
  • Personalize mobile app content. Personalize in-app offers and other content based on omni-channel user-level profiles that combine information from every channel and touch point. Make sure you can modify your mobile app in real time so you don’t have to go through the time-consuming task of re-submitting changes to the App Store first.

Marketers would do well to double down on native apps: investing in agile testing practices, and stitch in the mobile app data to enrich user profiles further. The very premise of everywhere marketing is delivering highly customized and relevant experiences across every channel and touch point. Mobile apps are simply the next stop in the “continuous optimization” of the rapidly-evolving omni-channel consumer journey.

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