My organization—the Association of National Advertisers—represents the interests of thousands of marketers and hundreds of brands. As such, we focus a great deal on one word—growth.
With every new channel that emerges, both the challenge and the bottom-line equation for marketers is always the following: "How do I grow brand (B) through channel (C) to equal growth (X)?"
Marketers have already made up their minds about the expanding role of the mobile channel. Ninety-six percent of them indicate that they either are, or will soon be, utilizing mobile as a part of their marketing mix.
While marketers know that mobile is fast becoming a vital piece of the marketing puzzle—from connecting with customers to building loyalty to driving transactions—the equation is still incomplete when it comes to the growth factor. With mobile, we have yet to learn how to solve for X.
What drives growth?
The marketing industry has not yet aligned around clear, effective measurement standards for mobile. The steady increase of smarter and newer devices and applications is constantly re-shaping the landscape relative to the strategies and tactics we can deploy. There is not, nor will there be, a one-size-fits-all solution to mobile. And so we constantly find ourselves asking, "What will move the needle?"
Fortunately for the many organizations facing that question, there are a number of brands achieving success—and tangible growth—through mobile initiatives. By examining a few of these cases drawn from diverse industry sectors, we begin to gain a clearer picture of emerging best-practices in the space.
Disney has seen a tremendous spike in mobile revenue over the past year. Most of its theme park customers bring a mobile device or tablet along with them. The opportunity was there, and ultimately, the call to action was simple.
After studying the evolving habits of its customers, Disney created an application directly related to consumer vacation experiences. By providing tangible assets and opportunities to consumers via mobile, such as maps, location-based information and even ticketing, Disney enhanced its customer experience, grew revenue and established a versatile platform on which to further build.
Not every mobile solution needs to be phone-centric. PUMA made the decision to apply unconventional mobile "interfaces" to its retail spaces. Eschewing more functional offerings, like floor maps or coupons, the company sought instead to enhance its brand voice and personality in-store.
Offbeat, in-store experiences like a Creative Factory, where customers build custom sneakers via mobile devices, helped PUMA advance its unorthodox approach to sportswear. Its in-store objective is not to force its way onto the consumer’s device. The goal is to have the consumer become so fascinated by the experiential, mobile-based elements in the store environment that they’ll invest in the PUMA brand and culture.
Most of the world’s payments—85 percent—are still made via cash or checks. This presents companies in the consumer credit space, like MasterCard, with a significant opportunity in countries that are growing up with mobile instead of the familiar "plastic."
MasterCard is working toward integrating almost all of its products and offerings with mobile transactions via its PayPass platform. In 2017, when mobile payments are predicted to become a trillion-dollar industry, the effort will have been well worth it.
It’s one thing to gather examples of mobile campaigns and strategies that were successful in driving outcomes like growth. It’s quite another to address the deeper question of "why?" In analyzing cases like the above, three common factors emerge:
Marketers finding substantive success in mobile have done so in a way that aligns with their brand and their consumers. Just because 96 percent of marketers are jumping on the mobile bandwagon, doesn’t mean that mobile is the be-all-end-all for every company. And remember: mobile still only represents a fraction of overall marketing spend. It also doesn’t mean that what worked for one brand will work for another. The challenge is to focus deeply on your brand and creatively approach mobile in a way that meshes seamlessly.
This isn’t an unfamiliar process. Marketers have been doing this for years. Mobile is simply the next frontier of marketing creativity for brand managers and strategists. Yet the stakes are far higher when your campaigns are being delivered right into your customers’ hands.
The mobile device is an intimate part of consumers’ lives. It’s an avenue where people communicate and extend themselves digitally. This immediacy is what makes mobile so attractive. But with this comes the clear risk of appearing intrusive.
In every case, mobile marketing must be framed with the mind-set of, "What can I, the customer, get by participating?" We may not have the best mobile metrics just yet. But social chatter, app reviews and traffic data will quickly tell marketing if what they’re doing is offering value for their customers—and if not, how they can course-correct. Any mobile strategy should add value to what you already offer and leverage the unique, synergistic potential of the channel.
Amazing brands do not withstand the test of time unless they remain forward-looking. Too many companies are inclined to abandon ship if an early test in mobile doesn’t produce immediate results. For every success story, there are scores of misfires. The key is to lay the groundwork today for greater success and growth tomorrow. How will your brand be interacting with customers in 10 years? What about your competition? There’s a good chance a lot of it will happen via a mobile device. Brands that lay down roots now will be ahead of the curve.
Too often, we make finding success in mobile overly complex. The good news is that there are a plethora of resources, cases, and organizations with a knowledge base that can serve as a starting point for mobile marketers. Ultimately, every brand must create its own creative equation to solve for X in mobile marketing.
Bob Liodice is president and chief executive officer of the ANA (Association of National Advertisers) and a board member of the Mobile Marketing Association. Follow him on ANA’s blog, Marketing Musings, and on Twitter @ANAMarketers.
[Image: Flickr users Ryan Polei, Mark van Laere, and Patrick Loonstra/Puma]