Brand engagement: Mobile connection
Mobile devices offer more than just a way to drive purchase, they can also build experiences that deepen brand engagement.
As smartphone penetration grows, many brands see mobile as another potential consumer touchpoint. In other words, it's an opportunity for ‘mobile marketing’, which continues to grow exponentially. According to research from mobile SQUARED, mobile advertising in Europe is expanding faster than previously projected, and is expected to reach $1 billion by 2014. US marketers will spend over $1.1 billion on mobile advertising in 2011 (up 48%) and, by 2014, spending is projected to reach $2.5 billion. While these are impressive figures, there is an even larger opportunity to move from simply ‘mobile marketing’ to ‘marketing mobile’ experiences.
Moving beyond mobile marketing, brands are increasingly marketing mobile as a way of transacting business and increasing sales. Juniper Research forecasts worldwide mobile payments will reach $240 billion in 2011, and grow over 2.5 times by 2015. IPads have really improved the mobile shopping experience to the point that a retailer like La Rue now claims that 22% of its sales come from mobile devices. And, the proliferation of ‘flash sales’ and daily deals are driving the immediacy needed for mobile shopping. And geo-targeting, enabled by smartphones, is helping retailers to connect their bricks-and-mortar world with a mobile experience.
But at its best, marketing mobile can be bigger than simply another way to drive transactions or facilitate purchases. Mobile can be used to build experiences that engage people with your brand.
Mobile is a fully integrated part of people's lives today... so much so that, for many, it's a lifeline. As such, marketers need to invest in learning how to create in this space and how people use mobile, so they can better understand how to market mobile in a way that creates relevant experiences to engage consumers and strengthen their relationships with their brand.
To do this, brands need to determine what role mobile can best play in their efforts. While it's easy to become enamoured of mobile as the next new thing, not everyone and everything needs an app. Just because we can be there doesn't mean we should be.
And brands should not have a separate mobile strategy any more than they should have a social media strategy. Instead, marketers need to determine if and how mobile can play a role in supporting their overall marketing strategies - and how it can strengthen their connections with people.
Just because someone over-indexes for mobile usage doesn't mean that they will engage with a brand. You have to understand them as people, and how mobile fits into their lives, to market mobile in a way that adds value.
More than anything, mobile can be used to create extremely targeted experiences by demographic, geography and context. Here are four insights to keep in mind.
1. Make it a valuable exchange
Effectively, marketing mobile isn't about sending extended advertising messages. People don't want them. Much like with social media, people will participate only if you make the content valuable. Things like recipes, coupons and special offers drive people to engage with SMS programmes, but simple ad messages don't deliver the value people want. Effectively, marketing mobile has to have ongoing value to the user. To do so, it is necessary to create mobile experiences that are mutually rewarding for both the brand and the customer.
I recently saw a great example of this in India. When Hippo baked snacks entered the $1.4 billion snack food market, the consumer response was so strong that it overwhelmed the Hippo sales and distribution system. With more than 400,000 retailers, it was a logistical nightmare to match stock to demand. That's where mobile Twitter came in. Using Twitter on their mobile devices, consumers became the inventory trackers. They were asked to tweet whenever they found a store (big or small) that was out of Hippo. The tweets were sent to a call centre that passed the information directly to the distributors in the area and they were able to reduce their out-of-stock time to mere hours.
Hippo: invited consumers to tweet whenever they came across a store that had run out of the snacks
Consumers who tweeted were sent messages back as to when stock would arrive, and the most active tweeters were sent anti-hunger bags full of Hippo product. In addition to incentives and rewards, consumers felt a sense of ownership in the brand and benefited from better product availability. But Hippo also saw real value from the programme. The tweeters created the equivalent of a 50% increase in their distributor network, and the net result was a 76% sales increase in just a few months.
2. The art of sacrifice
To market mobile in a relevant and useful way, not all parts of a brand's main site need to be part of the mobile site experience. Marketers should analyse their content and people's use of that content to determine which pieces will be most valuable in a mobile experience.
For example, spontaneity and impulse are big drivers of participation in American lotteries, and while most states don't allow online gambling, we found a way to leverage mobile to add consumer value and deepen participation with Washington’s Lottery. We created a mobile site that only did the three things people do most when on the go: check their numbers, see what the current jackpots are, and find a nearby retailer.
Following the mobile site launch, we learned through research that a huge barrier to playing still existed. Many people didn’t know how to play and were embarrassed to ask at the point-of-sale. To facilitate spontaneity, we added another element to the mobile experience, which enables people to engage with a quick how-to-play tutorial to give them the confidence to play wherever they are. The net result was a 4% increase in year-over-year sales despite a down economy.
3. Offer-based messaging has broad application
Most marketers know that offers or promotions with clear CTA s work best in getting people to act on mobile advertising. The same is true for the use of TAG codes. Typically, contests or promotional offers drive the highest level of engagement. But with marketing mobile experiences, promotions can be more than just sales techniques. They can also be offers to engage with a brand in a new way.
The International Olympic Committee is creating its second campaign to engage young global consumers with the Olympic values of excellence, friendship and respect. Through the platform called ‘The Best of Us’, it invited global youth to demonstrate these values first-hand by sharing what they are best at.
In the lead-up to the Vancouver Winter Games, Olympic athletes uploaded videos of themselves doing things outside their sport that people didn’t know they were good at. Young people around the world were invited to compete with the Olympic athletes by uploading a video of their own, or they could create an entirely new challenge around something they were good at. The campaign garnered over four million video views from more than 200 countries, and the videos were often in YouTube’s top ten most viewed.
Beginning in November, global youth will again have the opportunity to become part of the Olympic Movement by using the IOC mobile app to upload personal videos of themselves striving to achieve their own personal records. Again the offer is to become part of the Olympic movement and to be recognised for their participation. Prizes for participation will include trips to the 2012 London Games and the opportunity to be featured in an IOC global TV commercial.
4. Prioritise devices and design with touch screens in mind
To create the best mobile experiences, marketers should not assume they’ll be able to please all devices. Experience shows they should set clear priorities about which devices will be the most relevant, and then design with those devices in mind. Trying to create for all devices reduces the opportunity for rich interactions and more relevant experiences. This is particularly true if many of your mobile users are using touch screens. Experiences are more engaging when the touch screen is kept front and centre in design, particularly for navigational elements.
In the end, one thing is for sure: as new devices proliferate in the market, the opportunities within mobile will continue to grow. Whether you are just starting a mobile marketing programme or you are well on your way to marketing mobile experiences, the opportunity exists for a well-managed mobile programme to play an important role in your marketing communications strategy – and to deepen the connection people have with your brand.