[Interview] Mobile Expert Rob Thurner on the Potential and Challenges of the Mobile Revolution
An established mobile consultant, trainer and speaker with 20 years of digital and traditional marketing experience gained with agencies and international media owners, Rob is the man with the facts on mobile.
After his webinar, we were lucky enough to ask some pressing questions on this rapidly changing and industry-transforming field. I hope you find them as insightful as we did.
1. What kind of opportunities does targeting personal mobile devices bring for marketers?
Ask a group of strangers to pass their phones around the room and you’ll detect a potent sense of anxiety. We don’t share our phones with anyone. We don’t want others seeing the texts we send and receive, the photos we’ve taken, our social media pages, the sites we’ve browsed or the Apps we’ve downloaded. Our phones are highly personal.
One phone has one user. This means that we can develop highly personalized mobile marketing, mobile CRM, and mobile commerce experiences. Consider the potential for customized sites: back end integration, with APIs exposing individual customer records, which can be used to build bespoke sites which match the profile of each user. Look no further than Amazon to see how brands can use purchase history data and apply intelligence to develop sites with highly targeted product offers.
When you’re considering mobile advertising let’s remember the tremendous opportunities for micro-targeting. Mobile is unique in providing targeting possibilities in multiple dimensions. Consider the impact of leveraging customer insights and smart ad serving technology to gain traction across these targeting variables:
Tactical targeting: reach consumers based on the characteristics of their device and data connection e.g. device type, operating system, network Wi-Fi
Content-based targeting: reach consumers based on the types of content they are consuming e.g. automotive, finance, games, music, news, social, sports
Demographic targeting: reach consumers based on their demographic characteristics e.g. age, gender, household income
Behavioral targeting: reach consumers based on real world actions and behaviors
Contextual targeting: reach consumers based on what is happening around them at that moment in time e.g. by location, by daily routine, by situation – at an event, at an airport, in a shopping mall
Proximity targeting: enables the advertiser to present relevant offers to consumers at the right moment in the right place
Retargeting: reach consumers who have already expressed interest or exhibited favorable intent for your product or service
2. What do B2C organizations have to learn from B2B mobile marketing strategies or vice versa?
You could argue that the mobile revolution has been led by device manufacturers producing handsets and tablets which meet consumer needs. B2C brands have had to adopt mobile marketing to remain relevant. There are always exceptions, but B2C businesses have been earlier mobile adopters than their B2B counterparts.
Whilst 33% of all Business Intelligence functionality will be used exclusively on handhelds by 2014, according to research from Gartner, RedEye and Econsultancy’s Conversion Rate Optimization Report 70% have not yet optimized their websites for mobile, and more than 84% are not designing marketing emails for mobile.
To those developing B2B enterprise messaging services or server side and native applications, this trend will raise few eyebrows. But 2014 will feel like a long wait for the armies of field-based sales and operations teams working for multi-nationals and small businesses that have yet to experience the transforming effect of mobile on their working lives.
These staff are your foot soldiers, in daily contact with your customers. Wearing their consumer hats, they’re conversant with smartphones, tablets and multi-channel digital world. At work, they have the potential to embrace mobile-based solutions to improve efficiency, productivity and a sense of empowerment.
3. In the webinar, you mentioned that search was the single most frequently used mobile function. How can marketers optimize for search platforms on mobile?
“Truly great search is all about turning intentions into actions, lightning fast,” says Google in its AdWords blog.
50% of mobile interactions start with a search, so optimizing search for mobile is a must for today’s marketer.
Your search returns should match mobile users’ demands for quick, easy, simple
responses to task-oriented searches. Typically they enter no more than two to three words per query, and want to find directions to your address (with post codes), a link to a your (mobile-optimized) site, and a button to call your number (with correct dialing code).
As with desktop search, the majority of mobile searchers still click on the natural or organic listing, so it’s important to maximize your visibility here.
Remember that Geo-targeting is one of the greatest differences between desktop and mobile search and also one of the greatest opportunities. 85 percent of mobile search has a local intent, says Google, and 81 percent of searchers act upon the location based information they find. This explains why shopping, travel and entertainment top the list for most popular search queries.
4. What’s one mobile marketing statistic you still find hard to believe?
I find this one startling: a survey by the Chief Marketing Officer Council among 250 global marketers including Coca-Cola, Anheuser-Busch, JP Morgan Chase, and Unilever revealed that just 16% have developed a mobile strategy aimed at building customer engagement. And only 14% are happy with their mobile strategy.
The report goes further and states that only 15% are using mobile to trigger consumption, 18% use it for reactivating or acquiring customers and 18% use it for transactions.
On the plus side CMOs realize that they have a problem: 53% have or are dedicating a team to look at mobile and 51% are looking at how to incorporate mobile into their business through internal training and development.
Yet at the time of writing, the vast majority of brands have yet to optimize their sites for mobile, despite clear evidence that 2013 will be the year that Internet access via mobile overtakes PC access, and most still approach mobile in a tactical way rather than grasping the opportunity to transform their businesses with the mobile channel and integrate mobile into their broader business strategy.
The consultancy side of my business is looking strong for 2013!
5. Your webinar also focused on ensuring executive buy-in to the mobile vision. In your experience, has this been difficult to achieve? Why? What are executives most nervous about when developing or investing in a mobile marketing strategy?
To realize its full potential, companies must build consensus for a top-down mobile agenda. It’s simply not enough to expect a mobile champion or mobile task force to introduce and execute the company’s mobile agenda without Board level support. Think about the number and range of senior stakeholders who can feel highly threatened by the mobile revolution.
These ‘digital migrants’, who match the 45–54 or 55+ demographic profile boxes, may see the disruptive threat direct mobile poses, but lack the knowledge base to take advantage of the opportunity to gain competitive advantage for themselves and for their companies.
Getting agreement in a small organization is relatively straightforward, but what about a larger company? Board or senior management support for the mobile team mitigates this risk. Working in concert, and following a single mobile agenda, carefully selected stakeholders can accelerate the productivity of the mobile champion or mobile task force. All, however, have the ability to sabotage mobile progress.
6. Beyond driving ROI, what are the some of the goals for a truly excellent mobile experience?
When thinking about how we can use mobile devices and media for marketing there is a tendency to limit our thinking to mobile commerce transactions. There are certainly great opportunities for mobile commerce shown by the early, enthusiastic adopters like Amazon and eBay.
To help make the case for mobile and make the most of the opportunities, you need to explain the full range of interactions beyond mobile commerce. Mobile search volumes are increasing rapidly, as are mobile use of social networks and location based services.
I recommend that you start developing your strategy not by thinking about mobile sites or apps, but instead think about the different situations where consumers use mobiles. For example, they follow-up on a TV ad as they sit at home; search for a restaurant in town; scan barcodes or action codes in a store or simply read their emails as they commute to work.
Think smart users instead of smartphones, and ask “how are our early adopters using smartphones and tablets in practical and innovative ways?”
Rob Thurner designs and runs intermediate and advanced courses for the IDM, IPM and the IAB, where he was a founding member of the Mobile Leadership Council. He is also course tutor on the IDM digital diploma. You can contact Rob or connect through LinkedIn or follow him on Twitter: @burner_mobile. Rob’s new book, 7 Steps for Mobile Marketing Success, will be released on Amazon later this month. To order your copy and get a 15% early bird discount, email firstname.lastname@example.org quoting ‘BrightTALK 15.’
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