Mobile marketing best practice: Exclusive interview with Ensighten

By Chris Lee

NMK recently asked an expert panel whether 2012 had been the much-anticipated “Year of the Mobile”. While those digital marketers consulted could not agree whether or not last year had indeed signalled the dominance of mobile, the consensus across the board is that mobile should be factored into every brand’s digital marketing strategy. Brands already on board with mobile marketing are finding out that the way consumers behave on mobile devices – even between tablets and smartphones – differs greatly from traditional computer-based activity.

Mobile by numbers

Mobile search and commerce is on the rise across the world. According to researchers at GlobalWebIndex, over the last three quarters of 2012, the percentage of mobile users who made a purchase using a mobile phone increased from 13 per cent of all phone owners to more than 21 per cent (187 million consumers). Gartner estimates that by 2015, more than half (50 per cent) of all ecommerce transactions will come from some kind of mobile or tablet device. 

Mobile marketing best practice

To learn how marketing managers can make the most of the opportunities presented by mobile channels, NMK spoke to Adrian James, managing director of Ensighten across Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA). James believes that brands from all sectors appreciate that smartphones are a customer connection point that cannot be ignored.

“Whether it’s creating an app or a mobile website, there is no question that mobile marketing is as essential a channel to market as a website or a shop,” he said. “Consequently, marketers need to think about integrating mobile marketing into the broad marketing mix and ensuring data collected when a customer downloads an app or browses a mobile site is integrated with the overall customer analytics process.”

James said that high street retailer Next is a good example of a brand following mobile marketing best practice, rendering its content for mobile and tablet devices.

The role of analytics in mobile marketing

Analytics is as crucial in mobile marketing as it is in any other channel but traditionally it has been harder to normalise mobile data with Web data, according to James.

“The key is to first set measurement goals and then to integrate data collected via the mobile channel with other digital marketing activity,” he told NMK. “The ultimate aim for any brand is to understand how much revenue the mobile channel can generate, or what sort of engagement it can drive. This will vary by brand and product, but the need to undertake analytics to try and find the return on investment answer is crucial.”

James added that historically, free mobile analytics tools have not provided the depth or consistency of data compared to what is possible with paid formats, such as Webtrends or Omniture. He believes this is changing as the latest tag management technology enables marketers to capture the same sort of information across mobile and Web channels, and then quantify this with advanced analytics tools.

Five top tips for mobile marketers

Ensighten recommends the following five steps for marketers looking to either improve their existing mobile marketing efforts or for those starting from scratch.

1) Mobile inventory: “Different strokes for different folks” — the requirements serving ads to a mobile browser and a mobile app are different, and different mobile operating systems and devices further complicate the problem. This means marketers must know who they are targeting and what they are targeting them with — whether it is a series of ads or videos. The more context a marketer can provide the great success your mobile marketing will be.

2) Mobile design: It has to be responsive and consistent. Mobile developers are wrestling with considerations such as going native or using HTML5 — but the consumer’s experience is paramount. Consider what sort of experience you want for your customer and design your app accordingly — but don’t forget to enable accurate data collection.

3) Mobile maintenance: Changing content on a mobile app is a non-trivial process that involves resubmitting your app for approval with Apple, Google or RIM. So make sure you use tagging technology that can be changed without requiring a recompilation of the app.

4) Mobile measurement: On the browser side, the metrics are much like the good old Internet, but remember conversion rates and browsing times are very different and attribution in a multi-device world is not simple. Avoid “data stove-piping” and design your campaign so that mobile analytics can be easily compared with Web analytics.

5) Mobile integration: With the huge adoption by consumers of advanced smartphones, mobile is now a central part of any marketing campaign and a key factor in the many customer touch points of any brand. Optimise the design of your mobile-specific campaign elements and data collection so that you can accurately attribute consumer engagement and understand the return on your mobile marketing investment.

Other considerations in mobile marketing

James advised that marketers remember that when sending personal data over public networks, marketers must ensure customers can first opt in before logging onto a mobile site and use the latest encryption standards.

It is also important to remember that mobile devices will be operating over different protocols, affecting the performance of campaigns.

“4G is fanatic for marketers but don’t forget those 3G or even 2.5G users when you design your campaign,” James advised. “Marketers must pay careful consideration to the size of the app or page — if it takes too long to download you’ll see terrible engagement and disappointing marketing campaigns.”

James added that creating a mobile experience was a complex process of planning, testing and design.

“Test a site or app with a focus group and see how it responds. Sometimes we miss obvious points such as font size, colours on a screen, or the number of clicks needed to access content,” he said.

Finally, James recommends, marketing managers should follow tag management best practice. “Being able to manage the JavaScript code that adds advanced functionality to mobile apps or websites in real time is the key to optimising a multichannel marketing campaign,” he concluded.

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