Connecting Customer Acquisition with Mobile Engagement

Unless you're some sort of audio purist, stereo music sounds better than mono.

It's a truly immersive experience to pop on a pair of headphones and hear your music surround you—to be the center of it all. Back in the day, mono may have seemed great, but once you heard true stereo, the difference was so compelling you never looked back.

It's the same for brand mobile marketers: We've been operating in a monaural world—or at best, primitive stereo, with two unblended channels. One side deals with mobile advertising and customer acquisition: getting folks to sign up for, download, or browse your offerings. On the other side is another strategy—a set of vendors and reporting features kicks in to handle the engagement function. Each side gives us a piece of the picture, but to date, they haven't really played nicely. But if you put them together on a common management platform, it's just like the first time you heard true stereo—you have everything you need to optimize your mobile marketing investment.

Let's walk through the typical mobile engagement timeline:

Mobile customer engagement is totally opt-in. Unlike every other advertising medium, consumers have all the power: As a marketer, you've got to get them to click, SMS, or fulfill some other call to action to become engaged on their mobile devices. CRM-driven mobile engagement solutions are only as good as the acquisition strategy powering them. Data collection is from multiple vendors, with different functionality, latency, and quality, and very few have any insight into what happens next. If you stop here, you're hearing less than half the music.

You've gotten them to click—great! But the post-click engagement piece is just as important—you need to give them a reason to want to come back, to share more, to have a two-way conversation with your brand. Contests, unique content, landing pages, loyalty programs—each of these provides unique ways to tighten the connection between you and your consumers on their mobile devices. Vendors that provide these services generally have good data collection abilities, but very little insight into what drove the engagement in the first place. And often, this is where the music stops…or at least, is played on a different station.

There's an important side of the house here—CRM—that is usually locked in the back office, away from the incredible, rich data being generated via mobile advertising. And typically, step three is handled separately from steps one and two. Historically, ERP and CRM systems have been great at managing post-sale interactions—once the transaction is closed. They have had limited exposure to pre-sales leads and prospect interactions—most of the important interactions taking place in steps one and two.

And this is why mobile marketers are only hearing half of the music—one side is acquiring leads and providing programs to start the engagement, while the other is measuring success and trying to build that engagement. Ideally, these need to be together, accessible in a centralized, mobile management platform—both to best optimize mobile and to feed the data into legacy ERP/CRM systems. Tying all your mobile advertising and engagement efforts into a single database is the single best thing you can do to prepare for the next phase of converged media.

There are massive amounts of customer engagement data—vast collections of location, contextual, and psychographic information—that can be aggregated in real time through mobile marketing and advertising campaigns. Blended together, this data is gold—but often ignored, because legacy CRM/ERP systems aren't equipped to mix it with other customer data for the full stereo effect.

There's no reason to listen to your customer in mono—there are comprehensive solutions that can manage acquisition, engagement, measurement, and retention without having to lock into a single ad network. When selecting your mobile marketing platform provider, make certain it has the capability to accept and manage data from third-party ad networks, apps, and messaging providers to display alongside any offerings they originate to provide a clear picture of your entire mobile presence. Even better: Look for technology that can use the same audience-targeting segmentation across both acquisition and engagement arenas.

Otherwise, you might as well string together a few cans and hope for the best.

Alan Sultan is the senior vice president of business development and channel sales at Hipcricket.

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