More Marketers Must Move to Mobile Technologies

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Despite the many benefits it has over other channels, mobile messaging is regularly used by less than half of digital business professionals to engage their customers, according to a report by Forrester Research.

The report estimates that consumers have between 150 and 200 mobile moments each day, of which the majority can be classified as micro-­moments—ones that identify and deliver information that a customer can use or act on immediately.

Yet despite these opportunities for engagement, just 45 percent of digital business professionals regularly use short message service (SMS), with even fewer using push notifications (25 percent) and interactive push notifications (11 percent).

But while messaging might seem more straightforward to implement and less expensive than developing and maintaining mobile apps, it requires a more sophisticated use of context because it interrupts the consumer, demanding their immediate attention, according to the report.

One of the main issues is that digital business professionals focus on building mobile apps without planning for ongoing engagement. “Brands and enterprises still have so much baggage they carry with them from the Internet in wanting everything to be like a mobile Web experience…and somehow wanting to suck consumers into their playground,” says Julie Ask, vice president and principal analyst covering e-business and channel strategy at Forrester and coauthor of the report. “Sometimes all consumers need is a bit of information, and that’s one of the things that messaging and notifications do that brands need to wrap their heads around.”

The report offers five suggestions for digital business professionals to improve engagement with customers through mobile messaging. First, they need to develop a micro-moments strategy. Just as mobile devices are not simply smaller screens for delivering desktop experiences, mobile messaging is not simply an abbreviated version of email. Furthermore, they should also consider incorporating audio into their messages.

Second, digital business professionals need to make informed choices on messaging channel technology. More specifically, they need to understand how their target audience uses mobile devices and define business objectives accordingly. For example, SMS works on all devices, but push notifications could be dependent on app downloads or browser and operating system combinations.

Third, digital business professionals should use context to create calls to action within messages. For example, if a consumer is driving, click-to-call will be more effective than an embedded URL. Additionally, they should pay attention to information such as a consumer’s home address, commute path, and shopping patterns.

Fourth, digital business professionals need to select the right partners to assist them in automating messaging. Key considerations include which messaging technologies are necessary and whether global distribution or aggregation is needed, as well as whether integration will be conducted with back-end systems in house or with the help of partners.

Finally, digital business professionals need to select the right metrics. According to the report, evaluating the effectiveness of messaging programs won’t be as simple as measuring open and click-through rates. Instead, digital business professionals should focus on achieving higher conversions within commerce apps, improved customer satisfaction with service providers, and lower operating costs for all enterprises.

“Generally, brands have to realize they’re going to have less and less of consumers’ attention,” Ask says. “They need to put the consumer first and think about what’s convenient for the consumer, not what’s easy for the business or what fulfills the needs of the ­business.”

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