Mobile Marketing Is Essential for Brand Differentiation

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Businesses need to do more to incorporate mobile strategies into their marketing efforts, according to a report from Forrester Research.

While many brands are attempting to make their ads viewable on mobile phone and tablet screens, few are creating truly immersive experiences for their customers on mobile platforms, the study found.

In fact, most companies are underinvesting in mobile strategies, a trend that Forrester expects to continue this year. According to the research, just 20 percent of marketers admitted to having the budgets they need to effectively engage customers on mobile devices, and only 33 percent know how to measure mobile ROI.

Forrester further expects that only a small number of leading marketers will begin to fully integrate mobile solutions into their marketing strategies, measuring the impact of mobile efforts across channels and seeking opportunities to promote their brands.

Companies are struggling to integrate mobile strategies into their marketing plans for a number of reasons, according to Thomas Husson, vice president and principal analyst covering B2C marketing at Forrester. "From a philosophical perspective, [companies] think of mobile as a sub-digital channel. They don't necessarily think big about mobile," he says. "You need to rethink the customer journey. You need to evolve store operations. You need to evolve your processes. You need to evolve your culture to really embrace mobility as a catalyst for business transformation."

Another part of the problem is that executives need to be more aware of the importance of mobile initiatives in an overall marketing strategy and make the necessary changes in focus to promote mobile marketing, Husson maintains.

Husson also emphasizes the importance of investment and skills development to strong mobile marketing strategies. "More often than not, marketers struggle to evaluate the ROI of mobile. They know mobile is important, but it’s not necessarily prioritized," he says.

Additionally, while many marketers track measurements such as unique visitors and app downloads, they do not necessarily look at the impact that mobile devices have on other channels, he says.

"Mobile enables brands to improve the customer experience throughout the customer journey—not just on mobile or digital or through cross-channel devices, but also in stores, in branches, wherever people are," Husson states. "To truly deliver on this, you need to automate, define scenarios of engagement, and define the messages that you want to send that would be relevant to particular individuals based on their past behavior, their preferences, whatever you know about them."

Some leading marketers are already starting to see this and are now looking to incorporate mobile strategies into their legacy marketing and campaign automation systems to produce visible value for consumers.

The study also identified vendors, such as Adobe, Oracle, and Salesforce.com, which are now adding machine learning to current automation offerings to produce actionable insights from Big Data and promote campaign optimization.

To highlight the importance of mobile strategies, Forrester also reported that consumers spend 78 percent of their mobile time in apps, with Web browsing accounting for just 22 percent of that time. The average consumer has 25 apps installed on his device, though he uses only about five of them regularly. That makes it difficult for companies with stand-alone branded apps to ensure that consumers will regularly use their apps, the research suggests.

While this could be taken as evidence that companies should not invest in their own apps, Husson thinks otherwise. "[Businesses] should evolve a more advanced app strategy to precisely connect the dots with what they know about their customers, to act upon data based in their CRM systems or the contextual data they can leverage from mobile…to really target their most loyal customers," he says. 

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