Mobile marketing looks set to dominate 2016, with an estimated 46% of the global population predicted to own a smartphone by the year’s end. Jon Williams at Teradata argues that mobile now shapes every form of communication and marketers must always think about how their campaign can be amplified as a result.
Mobile has been a key driver of digital transformation across all sectors throughout 2015, and according to recent research from Forrester, this trend is set to continue next year, with an estimated 46% of the global population predicted to own a smartphone by the end of 2016. One thing is glaringly clear – mobile is going to continue to innovate, evolve and develop, and it’s an exciting time for the marketing industry that will follow mobile in a bid to add more value to consumer’s lives.
The perception of mobile in the marketing industry has undergone a shift within the last 12 months. It’s no longer enough for mobile to be another channel in a wider sphere of communications that allows a marketer to reach their audience; mobile now shapes every form of communication and marketers must always think about how their campaign can be amplified as a result. Even in offline or event marketing, campaigns can be maximised through the use of a hashtag, that creates real-time content, leveraged by consumers in order to both build direct engagement and reach an even wider audience. Clever marketing involves integrated, multi-channel campaigns that understand the value of mobile as a channel to market through, but also a channel for communications to be viewed upon. This multi-faceted, versatile nature of mobile has opened up endless opportunities for marketers who are able to use insights for on-the-go customers that add true value and disrupt their thinking patterns to achieve heightened results.
What this means for marketing departments, therefore, is a focus on optimisation and implementation. At the very least, consumers must be able to view any brand’s content on their mobile device, whether that’s through a website, an app or email. If it’s not mobile-friendly, the perception of the brand will ultimately deteriorate as consumers have a bad customer experience. Whilst that seems fairly obvious, our study into the top 50 online retailers (by turnover) earlier this year revealed that 75% optimise emails for mobile platforms, meaning that there is still a fairly high percentage that haven’t embraced optimisation. After that’s complete, consumers will find it easier to interact with the brand, meaning that the brand can continue to have meaningful conversations with customers, strengthening relationships.
Once optimisation is in place, marketers can turn their attention to the content, and how it is delivered. Whether that’s in the form of text messages, push notifications, social or email, it’s vital that marketers use informed insights to make this decision. These insights can highlight which channels the consumer prefers to use, to ensure that relevant information is sent, at the right time, via the right touchpoint. Marketers must really understand the right time frame to avoid bombarding their database with the same information, and ensure they are catching their customer ‘in the moment’ to achieve the most effective results.
So, what’s next? It’s clear that mobile is innovating and developing, and we’d fully expect to see even more channels become available in the near-future that extend the possible ways for consumers to be contacted. WhatsApp, for example, is one such channel that marketers are beginning to take notice of, following its acquisition by Facebook last year. At the time, it had an estimated 420 million users, and it’s now increased to a staggering 900 million, meaning that there’s a pool of customers, engaged with a platform that marketers could leverage. Yet, marketers should approach this with caution, as they should with any new channel. Firstly, WhatsApp was not initially designed for business use, so it should only be used to compliment marketer’s current platforms. Before it’s incorporated within the wider communications network, it’s vital that marketers familiarise themselves with the terms of service. For instance, direct advertising and soliciting a business via WhatsApp is considered a ‘violation’ of service, but sharing images, posts and engaging with existing contacts is acceptable. As with any new channel, it’s highly recommended to implement a ‘test-and-learn’ approach that is introduced to complement existing communications.
In time, this could be an effective additional channel for marketers, and it will be interesting to see how this pans out in the future.
Yet, the challenge for marketers extends beyond learning the intricacies behind the terms and conditions of WhatsApp. A mobile device is something very personal to the owner, so marketers must ensure that they aren’t invading privacy when sending direct messages. Each customer will have a different perception about what is/isn’t acceptable when it comes to communications – particularly as marketers now have the power to send extremely targeted communications through location settings, for example.
Direct messaging, in the form of text or WhatsApp could be deemed, by some, as an invasion of their privacy, which is why marketers must be confident that their communications add value before they send them. If it’s perceived as ‘spam’ because the insights used are incorrect, or the customer doesn’t wish to be communicated with via that means, it’s not something worth pursuing as the damage could have a lasting effect.
In essence, it comes down to knowing who the customer is, and interacting with them at key points of their customer journey when they are receptive to hearing from the brand. WhatsApp and other direct messaging platforms could certainly shape the future of mobile communications, and it’s an exciting development, but marketers should err on the side of caution before they implement tactics that could drive customers away if the preparation and insight aren’t correct.
By Jon Williams
Country Manager UK & Ireland
Teradata Marketing Applications