The Four Stages of Mobile Marketing Maturity

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While investments in mobile marketing are surging, some marketers are ignoring their company’s level of mobile maturity, leading to practices that might not be the most effective for reaching their target audiences.

A recent report from Forrester Research identified four stages of mobile maturity for businesses: Shrink and Squeeze, Mobile-First, CX Transformation, and Business Disruption. Each of these levels “reflect the impact that mobile has across the entire organization,” according to Jennifer Wise, senior analyst serving business-to-consumer marketing professionals at Forrester.

Shrink and Squeeze occurs when companies modify existing marketing programs to fit the mobile environment. Marketers should begin with a test-and-learn approach, evaluating isolated mobile tactics through short-term, one-time campaigns. Once they have determined successful strategies, marketers can add a mobile element to their existing digital campaigns.

Wise notes that many marketers are still at the Shrink and Squeeze stage today. Marketers in this stage “create a mobile presence, but there isn’t a mobile-specific focus or shift in strategy,” she points out.

In the Mobile-First stage, marketers develop strategies that specifically target mobile consumers. This stage also involves capitalizing on the mobile environment’s unique qualities to better reach customers and “thinking about who is the mobile-specific consumer, what is their specific need, and then what is the unique opportunity…to reach them through the mobile device,” Wise says.

She also emphasizes that apps and messaging are integral to a successful mobile-first marketing strategy.

The third phase of mobile maturity, CX Transformation, involves two major changes that influence mobile marketing strategies. First, customers undergo a mobile mind shift, becoming accustomed to having their needs addressed almost immediately based on their unique contexts. Second, mobile expertise and mobile business objectives permeate the organization, establishing mobile business as a priority for the enterprise as a whole. According to Wise, CX Transformation goes “beyond just thinking about how you can uniquely reach the mobile audience—this is thinking about how can you actually enhance engagement with the mobile audience in their mobile moments.”

The fourth and final stage of mobile maturity is Business Disruption, which involves mobile business transforming the entire enterprise. “To survive the digital transformation…[business disruption] is what companies need to be thinking towards. Right now, the majority are still thinking of mobile as [just] a channel,” Wise says.

She says that the organizations that practice business disruption today tend to be those that started off as mobile or digital-first, such as Uber and Airbnb. Just as these companies created new business models, traditional brands can also use mobile strategies as a catalyst for exploring different business models.

“From the marketer’s purview, they’re going to think about mobile as a channel through which to reach the customer, but then, as mobile gains more importance across the organization, it goes beyond [being just] a channel,” she says.

The report also identifies two frameworks for marketers to use when devising mobile campaigns: mobile POST and mobile IDEA. Mobile POST is geared toward marketers in the first two stages of mobile maturity—Shrink and Squeeze and Mobile-First—and identifies four steps for devising a mobile marketing campaign:

• Understand the behaviors of the target audience.

• Determine specific mobile marketing goals.

• Identify the right strategy for achieving these objectives.

• Choose the specific mobile technologies that will enable the implementation of that strategy.

The mobile IDEA framework is aimed at marketers in the latter two stages of mobile maturity: CX Transformation and Business Disruption. Mobile IDEA also emphasizes four elements for continued mobile marketing success:

• Identify the moments when customers use their mobile devices.

• Design a mobile experience that addresses customers’ needs.

• Ensure that they have the proper platforms, processes, and people in place to optimize their mobile campaigns.

• Analyze the results of their mobile campaigns to better understand their mobile customers and continually improve their mobile strategies.

Overall, the Forrester report makes clear that the mobile era has arrived. It’s just a question of where your company is at in its marketing maturity, and where it needs to be. 

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