This article first appeared in the August 2011 issue of Marketing magazine.

 

There is a major transformation occurring that is barely being recognised – the ability to exploit the power of mobile. Yes, mobile gets a lot of coverage, yet, in my view, most people have not grasped the true potential of this medium.

We have heard about mobile as a new delivery channel: online access, search, exposure and traffic, clicks and conversions, remote connections, messaging etc. But we seem to have stopped thinking and treat mobile as just another form of online and think we are embracing it by extending current strategies

But the difference this time is that mobile is the ‘heartbeat’ of the customer! Mobile goes everywhere and will be used all the time to reflect the thoughts, actions and behaviour of real people. Mobile is not just another delivery channel, but a vital part of the product value equation.

Let me give you some perspective on my thinking, to challenge your views and give you an insight into the way I see mobile transforming everything!

 

Today’s perspective

There is a direct parallel to the first years of the internet when, at a certain point, everyone thought they had heard enough and knew all about the web. Yet, looking back, very few really understood what the possibilities would become when users had their say.

The mindset to think ‘we know’ is dangerous and can directly impact our ability to extract and realise the potential that the use of mobile data presents. And given the pace of evolution of technologies in mobile, you would think that digital agencies and service providers would be more open to working with experienced teams… or at least be open to learning. Unfortunately, I continue to face the ‘the organisational mobile guru’, who – you guessed it – ‘knows it all’. There’s an unwillingness to listen that seems uniquely Australian.

We have seen mobile ‘grow up’ and have been educated by a constant stream of new technology, faster networks and cool devices. This whirlwind of change created bragging rights in terms of who had the latest device and how many mobile apps were available. This market has become fragmented, confusing and burdensome on the user.

It is time to stop, take off the blinkers and understand the real situation. This market is about connecting people with information and making it easier to perform daily tasks with less effort. The technology is now available to support a shift from user burden to user enablement. And the opportunity for organisations to radically change the quality, granularity and timeliness of their information systems is now!

Mobile should not add complexity nor absorb resources in the process to expand activity. Activity should be reduced and aligned to a new way of connecting in real-time with accuracy, responsiveness and user satisfaction the focus.

Emerging research into this potential is calling this shift a ‘wake-up call’ for all types of organisations wishing to connect more closely with their customers.

We have seen the first wave of mobile adoption and the lesson learned is that the power is in the hands of users: users who are customers, participants, influencers and decision-makers.

Entirely new forms of accurate, granular and real-time analytics will create ‘automated customer intelligence’. Think about it in the context of eight new characteristics that will transform what we think we know.

Instead of a typically one-way feed capturing transaction data, companies now have the opportunity to create new, interactive relationships.

In turn, process refinement can be continual and fed by activity in real time, dramatically shifting the resource costs to aligning with customer interests.

Unless organisations appreciate this opportunity, their capability to competitively respond is in jeopardy.

 

Eight characteristics driving new KPIs and performance metrics

  • Personalisation – mobile is unique, as it reflects the fact that the individual and personalisation is the future of marketing. This is not just some digital channel or another hit on your website – it is a real person whose thoughts, behaviour and actions have a direct impact upon your success. We need to adopt a view from the user’s perspective and not isolate mobile into yet another browser.
  • Real time – not only does your customer move, but they have moods, preferences and tolerances specific to their situation and environment. The metrics associated with understanding behaviour patterns and new market segments are now available. Decision-making influences are no longer just measured as traditional brand awareness or exposure, but can map across location, time and purpose specific metrics.
  • Engagement – mobile interaction is alive. It changes during the day and from a variety of influences that are far more complex than are capable of being captured through surveys. Mobile is constant, active and ‘breathes’ with the pulse of the user. Influences extend to social, community and collaborative involvement and activities. A consumer’s mood can be scaled through social media interactivity and reactions measured by engagement style.
  • Preference – mobile enables users to combine a new range of situational, personal and intelligence-based information in order to make decisions in new ways never before possible. People learn and new habits are repeated as we search to find the way we want to communicate. We can predict these patterns and must capture the relevant data to help us continually learn and align to user preferences. One size fits all is no longer a paradigm to use over mobile that can be personalised and deliver individual engagement preferences.
  • Social capital – users are human beings, so feelings, friends and networks will continue to become a source of significant influence. You need a holistic view of your customers’ influences and decision-making from their responses and actions. Measurements will be much more specific to the context and content being viewed and used by the mobile user.
  • Fresh – your user is alive, online and connected and so should your content be accurate, relevant and timely. Predictive analysis combined with extensive data capture will transform the retail experience into a constant focus on keeping customers satisfied.
  • Transparency – you have a real-time audience with an appetite for attractive snacks. This relationship is new and can be effectively used for deeper levels of input and interaction. You can now capture information specific to a buying situation, event or evaluation to develop the context that is key to measuring success. No more guesses, estimates and hit and miss programs.
  • Cohesive – integrating a company’s activities into a cohesive view by the user is the key and a challenge that will continually evolve forever. We now have a moving target with capability, choice and sensitivity unlike ever before. Gaining an accurate insight to these customers before your competition is the challenge.

 

Change the game

These characteristics will create new formulas for testing, validating and delivering campaigns, projects, product launches and all forms of strategic customer analysis and alignment.

Getting closer to the signals of demand sentiment is vital. For many years, systems have helped us be reactive, but not responsive.

Research validates that there is an opportunity to dramatically change execution across the board versus incremental improvements.

According to RSR Research, companies face three major challenges:

  • internal resource challenges with realigning priorities
  • difficulties in leveraging current digital assets, and
  • that one good event is not enough to affect customer loyalty.

Research goes further to indicate customer satisfaction goals are dependent upon effective execution across all channels, consistent brand identity and quality product information. On mobile, it’s the customer expectation of an experience that demands greater attention to embracing mobile and exploiting all the riches of the medium.

It is my view that it is the time to shift thinking from trying to drag older technology forward. Make your customers’ input, responses and feedback your source of new ‘sticky’ relationships.

  • How long does it take for you to get decision-making information today?
  • Is it accurate enough for you to act upon?
  • Are there conflicting sources of data?
  • Can you measure results?
  • How many resources are tied up in processing this type of information?

What if you could build more accurate segmentation encompassing location, device type, social media preferences and times of the day, refine your promotions to match the segmentation, track performance in real time and keep improving this formula!

You can sense that this would create a positive internal culture anxious to work on measurable customer results. You can reallocate resources based on poor systems and processes.

With better information, companies can develop optimised and personalised offers specific to new market segments, locations, times and events. The end result is greater returns on investment for every marketing dollar spent. This strategy ensures alignment to today’s priorities versus arguments on whether historical data is indeed accurate or not!

In today’s fast paced world, preferences and behaviour should dictate priorities. If you focus on useful and usable customer mechanisms for expressing their opinions – then listen and respond.

Resources cannot be spread to perform all of the past activities and do more. Take a look at the quality of your measurement data and reallocate resources to today’s and tomorrow’s activities.

Reduce lag time and discover the ‘why’ of your customers’ behaviour.

Work in real time to capture and track data that can immediately refine your offers, processes and inventory. Create a culture focused on appreciation for customer sentiment.

You need relevant and real-time data, so you can incorporate behavioural variables, such as user preferences, past activity, social profile and level of interest into new forms of customer engagement and satisfaction.

The bar is truly lifted and there is no turning back.

This is a unique, compelling and breakthrough to customer influence. Don’t think about it as a mobile initiative – think about it as real-time ratings!

Reports from RSR Research show companies indicated the following imperatives were ‘very valuable’ to embracing real-time business intelligence:

  • rapid response to changes in customer demand
  • higher customer retention
  • higher average customer transaction value
  • better ‘what if’ modelling capabilities, and
  • improved merchandising productivity.

These goals are fuelled by improved information quality.

 

Organisational impact

The shift to aligning to your customers’ preferences, understanding their true behaviour and anticipating responsiveness can significantly improve the value of your existing processes and systems.

There can be no argument when the data is your own insight to your own customers’ interactions. Embrace this shift now and create your path to a sustainable competitive advantage

Learn how you can design, develop, trial and test new programs fast:

  • personalised and relevant offers
  • on the spot feedback
  • predictive advice and information
  • new and attractive loyalty formulas
  • real-time awards, and
  • new forms of customer service.

This new way of doing business will create energy and enthusiasm.

 

Summary

Understanding and harnessing the most effective use of new technology can be difficult and overwhelming. It pays to take a step back and think about the purpose from a user’s perspective.

Users tend to determine, over time, what technologies are useful and certainly usable.

Many of the mobile realities of today were not predicted or envisioned. The rapid acceptance of text messaging and the rapid decline of individual application downloads are two examples.

I spend a lot of time talking about the process of going mobile – in respect of both messaging and mobile web. But it’s all been technology driven. It’s becoming abundantly clear, however, that before even worrying about how to implement you need to know what to implement.

Mobile is a new channel with a whole series of new challenges and a raft of exciting opportunities to exploit the fact that you are now connecting to a consumer at a new level of personal interactivity – the closest many organisations have ever been able to get to their customers.

Embrace mobile: exploit its features, measure, track, refine and analyse like never before.

Joe Barber
BY Joe Barber ON 3 January 2012
Joe Barber is a 25 year veteran of technology companies with the last five years focussed on mobile and retail. He is currently CEO and founder of Edge80.com with other notable start-ups under his belt being Third Screen Media, Sniip and Planet Internet. Joe has lived and worked in the US, Malaysia and parts of Europe and talks at numerous trade events worldwide.
  • womple_com

    Great article. With the rise in mobile marketing, businesses are rushing to “go mobile.” The mobile apps/mobile website industry is also seeing rapid growth.