Shake Up Your Mobile Strategy for 2015

Dec 10, 2014

Article ImageWith Americans now spending more time on mobile devices than on desktops or laptops, brands need a marketing strategy that embraces mobile. And yet, many brands are struggling to find a coherent mobile strategy. One mobile media company says that brands that don't "get mobile" must overhaul their marketing strategy in 2015 or risk becoming as obsolete as a flip phone. Companies can no longer create a responsive website and claim that they have a mobile strategy.

Smartphones and tablets are very personal devices. People carry them everywhere, unlike desktops or even laptops, so marketing needs to be tailored to how people use their devices. "Indiscriminant push notifications, irrelevant brand messages, and clumsy and complicated mobile interfaces do not impress consumers," says Marla Schimke, VP of marketing at Zumobi, a provider of integrated app content and advertising experiences on smartphones and connected devices. "Understand mobile content marketing is all about the consumer." 

"Brands are beginning to understand that mobile content marketing strategy is not a sprint, but a marathon," Schimke says. And yet, the marathon is comprised of countless sprints, as brands can no longer rely on a catchy saying ("A diamond is forever.") or jingle ("Have a Coke and a Smile.") to be the tent pole of their marketing strategy, according to Schimke.

"The advent of mobile as a media platform has thrown a proverbial wrench into branding and marketing teams' creative processes, as they no longer have to think of that one catchy idea-they have to think of 1,000 catchy ideas," says Schimke. "Additionally, they have to think about where and how they will appear and ways to keep their consumers connected to their brand."

However, a complete overhaul of a company's marketing strategy may not be necessary if its business model and marketing initiatives are aligned, says Michael Blumenfeld, managing consultant for financial services at Maxymiser, a provider of cloud-based testing, personalization, and cross-channel optimization solutions. "The business model and goals dictate the outcome of the strategy," Blumenfeld says. A major marketing redo would only be necessary if a company doesn't have a mobile strategy yet or if its "current mobile strategy supports X and you're looking to support Y," Blumenfeld says.

According to a recent IBM survey, most enterprises understand that getting mobile right is a key part of their marketing strategy. "84% of CIOs rate mobile solutions as a critical investment to get closer to customers, while 94% of CMOs ranked mobile apps as crucial to their digital marketing plans," says Michael Gilfix, director of enterprise mobile product management at IBM.

"Based on the innovations in the mobile space over the past 10 months, I am going to say that days of mobile being an ‘afterthought' within a corporate strategy are coming to an end," Gilfix says. "Major corporations are rolling out new apps to enhance their customers' online experience." 

Gilfix points out that apps such as QuickPay and Popmoney are making it easy to pay restaurant bills, for example, and Dominos' allows voice ordering. "More companies should be challenging themselves to emulate and improve upon innovations like these, turning mobile strategy into a competitive advantage for their business," he says.

Despite the progress, experts say that there's much work to be done if companies are to capitalize on mobile's promise. Take apps, for example. IBM says that 80% of apps (see graphic) are used only one time and then deleted. Gilfix says that Gartner, Inc.'s research shows that only 1 in 10,000 mobile apps "will be considered financial successes by their developers through 2018."

Creating a more engaging and personalized app experience could "represent significant opportunities in terms of loyalty and revenue," Gilfix says. "For example, 75% of mobile shoppers take action after receiving a location-based message. By designing for mobile from the ground up, organizations can provide targeted, cloud-based push notification technologies to maximize mobile customer engagement and drive a consistent brand experience through multiple channels." 

Blumenfeld agrees that the mobile experience is not where it needs to be. "Many people continue to feel that responsive design websites are the end all, be all," he says. "That statement is only true when a corporation has an understanding of what their client is doing across devices."

He sees several challenges that prevent widespread adoption of mobile strategies, including:

  • "Very few organizations have the foundation in place to capitalize on the power of mobile as part of a holistic business strategy, instead treating mobile as a siloed communications channel." 
  • Companies are finding that mobile security is a serious concern and can slow down and even prevent adoption of a mobile strategy.
  • "Apps and devices must be integrated with core business processes, workflow, and back-end data and analytics in order to bring the power of mobile to the individual." Apps must be built "from the ground up" to solve complex problems for customers, he says.

2015 will be a challenging year as brands continue to react to consumers' rapid embrace of mobile. The experts interviewed for this article were full of predictions for mobile in 2015. Here are a few:

  • Mobile will be embraced. "2015 will be the year that brands truly embrace the ‘mobile first' mindset," says Schimke. "Accompanying this trend, mobile content marketing spend will continue to increase as brands experience the value of engaging the opted-in consumer with relevant content marketing."
  • There will be more sophisticated apps. "Developers will create more sophisticated apps that rely on analytics and cognitive computing capabilities to better engage users," says Gilfix. "Developers will be able to better access and store data generated by the apps and make better sense of that data to improve the user experience. Increased use of cognitive technologies like [IBM's] Watson will lead to the development of apps that ‘learn as they go' and use data to help shape entirely new markets."
  • Mobile payments will catch on. "Mobile payments opportunities in developed markets will continue to rise, with merchants increasing use of technologies including geolocation and analytics to create greater value propositions for consumers-before and after the transaction-in order to increase consumer interaction and influence changes in purchase behavior and loyalty," Gilfix says.
  • There will be beautiful storytelling. "As brands embrace marketing on a mobile device, great content creation and beautiful storytelling will become an integral part of brands' mobile marketing strategies," Schimke says.
  • Video advertising's growth will continue, according to Schimke
  • "Content will become as important as data in the marketing mix," says Schimke.