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Five Lessons for Success in Mobile Marketing

 By Christy Pettey

Digital marketers see mobile as the last mile of customer intimacy. As an emerging discipline, mobile marketing offers few proven patterns and precedents for success. Many marketers are unclear on where to begin. 

The rapid growth in the use of mobile devices for brand engagement has pushed many marketing organizations into mobile with ‘‘ready, fire, aim!’’ thinking. Often, low-barrier, “shiny object” tactics create the appearance that a brand has gone mobile.

However, as Jake Sorofman, research vice president at Gartner, will discuss at the upcoming Gartner Digital Marketing Conference, a set of tactics does not necessarily equal a strategy that addresses the challenges and risks of mobile as well as the opportunities.

“Unlike other channels, mobile is personal,” said Sorofman. “Consumers are more sensitive to unwelcomed contact because of the physical constraints of the format and the ubiquity of its presence. Without a sound strategy, mobile engagement can quickly become mobile alienation.”

Mr. Sorofman laid out five best practices for mobile marketing success:

Begin With Your Customer in Mind

Customer-centric thinking leads to mobile experiences that align to and augment customers’ established behaviors. This is easier said than done, particularly for organizations with segregated functions and inside-out cultures. The most customer-centric thinking comes from collaboration among technical, marketing, design and operational functions. Collaboration broadens perspective and deepens customer empathy by identifying and acting upon factors such as customers’ mobile usage patterns and high-value touchpoints.

Build Your Mobile Marketing Foundations

“Walk before you run” is often forgotten under internal and external pressure to strike first or to close the competitive gap. Foundations must be built before becoming overly ambitious about sophisticated mobile campaigns and experiences. Organizations will soon run into trouble if they are missing some of the basics, such as a mobile optimized website, an appropriate use of personal data, and representative profiles and personas to guide relevant and resonant experiences.

Appoint a Mobile Marketing Leader, but Don’t Go at It Alone

All too often marketers assume that their mobile strategy is owned by someone else in the organization. In this situation, nobody really owns mobile strategy, and you do not get the marketing expertise necessary to support the design. Appointing a mobile marketing leader who is accountable for all aspects of mobile experience is often the answer. This person should have a cross-functional orientation, and can connect the dots among marketing, operations and technology. However without developed substantial mobile marketing maturity, it often makes sense to partner with mobile marketing providers and digital agencies for expertise and scale.

Start With Small-Scale Projects

Moving too fast with mobile can seriously endanger a brand. Marketers under pressure to re-energize a tired brand may favor aggressive execution over a test-and-learn approach. Often, organizations will adopt customer engagement lessons from leading-edge mobile marketers, but are not ready for these activities right away. The lesson here is to begin with small-scale projects. Focusing on one customer segment or on a single tactic or product can help to contain the scope of initial investments.

Design and Integrate Multichannel Experiences

An understanding of customers will inform an understanding of how digital and analog channels can come together to create integrated brand experiences. Customers do not think in terms of channels, and neither should marketers. Instead the focus should be on finding the points of synergy between online and offline channels and exploiting them to create engaging brand experiences. An example could include timing second-screen experiences with other channels such as enhancing broadcasts with in-depth interviews available on tablets or smartphones; or augmenting in-store experiences with mobile apps that provide utility and convenience to the shopper.

Digital marketers clearly see mobile as the last mile of customer intimacy, but organizations must avoid running that mile before they can walk.


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