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CMO by Adobe: Does Your Customer Journey Cater To Mobile Customers?

by Brian Solis for CMO by Adobe

People interact with their phones an average of 13 times per hour. That’s what Bain & Company found in a recent study. If you play these numbers out over a conservative estimate of 12 hours per day, consumers may check their phones up to 156 times daily, which can add up to whopping 1,092 times per week. This behavior is changing the very dynamic of customer engagement.

Now more than ever, brands need to think about how mobile activity is changing the customer journey or risk missing critical opportunities for engagement. But many are still underplaying or misunderstanding the role mobile plays in customer experience.

In an interview between Google’s director of marketing, Matt Lawson, and Bain & Company’s global marketing practice lead, Laura Beaudin, it’s clear that brands still don’t get it. During the conversation, Beaudin cited Bain’s research, which found that only 13% of direct media budgets are directed toward mobile advertising. Much of what’s used for digital advertising is actually not designed or optimized for mobile at all. In many cases, it’s simply repurposed content from other digital programs.

In my own research report on digital transformation, “The 2016 State of Digital Transformation,” I found that only 20% of companies had studied the mobile customer journey. Yet, when you look at customer data or mobile case studies, it’s clear that mobile-centered marketing can be extremely valuable and effective. For example, Bain discovered that companies that engage consumers via mobile-specific ads are winning. Specifically, 60% of useful mobile ads are influential in a purchase decision. Furthermore, according to a Google research, 70% of smartphone users do research on their phones prior to making a purchase.

The Great Mobile Disconnect
Time and time again, I see that mobile is viewed as a subset of digital; as such, it becomes a bolt-on to digital strategies. Even though we do see digital budgets growing, there is still a lack of appreciation for the relationship between mobile devices and mobile media, as well as the influence they can have in each stage of the entire customer journey.

I’d go so far to say that many executives don’t live the brand the way customers do, and, as a result, the everyday marketing checklist and measurement framework is still rooted in a very traditional past. This is a time to not only rethink the balance between traditional and digital, but to also better understand how to design more useful, mobile-centered touch points in the customer journey.

Intersection Of Relevance And Irrelevance
The first mistake brand marketers make is that they erroneously assign mobile as a subset of overall digital campaigns. The second mistake is that they measure the wrong things or use dated attribution formulas. This prevents the ability to recognize the real role and value of mobile. Mobile evokes a different set of behaviors than desktop or laptop-based activity. Therefore, marketers simply cannot use the same tactics or KPIs and metrics for mobile that they do for other forms of online advertising.

Bain found, for example, that 79% of consumers use their smartphones to research purchases, but only 10% are completed on a mobile device. Using traditional metrics, it’s impossible for this activity to demonstrate mobile ROI. This, in turn, makes it difficult, if not impossible, for marketers to innovate in micro-moments—those real-time mobile moments in a person’s day when consumers are ready to know, go, do, or buy.

One challenge for mobile consumers is that most journeys aren’t mobile-optimized; therefore they cannot complete their purchases easily on mobile. At the same time, if a consumer needs to switch screens or channels to complete a transaction, marketers will usually count this activity as a purely digital engagement and thus miss the connection between mobile and the actual outcome.

To help marketers better measure micro-moments, Bain analyzed 534 marketing campaigns and discovered that for every $100 of revenue attributed to mobile display ads by conventional metrics, an additional $90 should be attributed to mobile for purchases made on another device. Doing so helps marketers assign greater ROI to mobile and make the case for pilots that drive growth in micro-moments.

Restaurant chain Red Lobster is a solid example of a company that decided to test and learn around dedicated mobile engagement and, in the process, broke new ground in customer engagement

One of its more successful pilots targeted mobile customers with focused advertising when they were near one of its restaurants during prime dinner hours. The idea was that, of course, they were hungry within that window and might use mobile to find a place to eat nearby. The Red Lobster team didn’t just guess; they arrived at this conclusion by studying micro-moments. In doing so, Red Lobster learned the importance of mobile in people’s day-to-day routine. The team discovered that about 75% of the traffic on came from a mobile device and that traffic (60%) happened during dinner hours (3 p.m. to 8 p.m.). That’s, of course, the time when people are most likely hungry and reach for the device closest to them (mobile).

In its pilot, Red Lobster boosted its mobile investment in two geographic markets that had a large concentration of stores. Then it compared the results with a similarly sized control area. One of the common challenges that Red Lobster faced is that it couldn’t directly link specific purchases to mobile ads. Instead, the team used store visits as a proxy to measure the impact of the mobile campaign. The result? Nearly one-third (31%) of mobile users were more likely than those who didn’t see an ad to visit a restaurant that day and 17% more likely to do so the next day.

Dedicated Approach
Once marketers start connecting/understanding how mobile activity drives real outcomes, they can learn exactly how mobile customer behavior unfolds. More so, companies can then design mobile-centered campaigns that thrive in micro-moments to drive meaningful growth and engagement.

Specifically, to win in micro-moments, marketers must do the following:

  1. Analyze how and to what extent customers use mobile to make decisions, who they are, what keywords they use or questions they ask, on which devices, where this takes place, and what happens as a result in each moment.
  2. Identify key micro-moments, visualize a new mobile-first customer journey, and optimize it for growth.
  3. Test and learn with bold micro-moment-optimized campaigns that align with customer expectations and behaviors. Do not repurpose content from other digital initiatives.
  4. Develop a more modern set of mobile metrics that better track for attribution and measure for growth.
  5. Repeat.

Don’t miss the moments that matter. We don’t just live in a mobile-first world; to engage consumers and drive growth, marketers need to now design for mobile-only engagement scenarios. By investing in programs that are native to mobile-first micro-moments, you drive new opportunities for growth by engaging connected customers in ways that are useful and productive. And if it’s one thing they appreciate, it’s that your brand aligns with what they prefer and value.

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