Retailers: Give Yourself The Gift Of Mobile Optimization This Holiday Season
It's not too late to optimize your mobile strategy for the 2015 holidays. Columnist Josh Manion outlines the questions you should be asking to help you improve mobile engagement.
How can retailers improve their share of holiday sales? One way is mobile.
I’d like to think this is the year mobile comes of age, graduating from a “nice to have” piece of the holiday retail strategy to something that is mission-critical. But that means more than building mobile-friendly websites and launching great-looking apps.
Mobile can deliver real competitive clout, but its real power lies in enhancing the cross-channel customer experience.
Mobile devices have become omnipresent extensions of our lives as we move through the day. So it’s not surprising that nearly three-quarters (72 percent) of consumers respond to calls to action delivered on a mobile device within sight of a retailer, according to an MDG Advertising infographic.
Yet just 23 percent of marketers are using location-based data in marketing campaigns, despite the power to engage consumers in-store and near-store.
This is symptomatic of a bigger question — how to use all sources of omni-channel data to support coordinated, end-to-end marketing strategies and campaigns.
Mobile Commerce At The Holidays
Let’s start with the numbers. IBM’s online holiday report for 2014 reported mobile commerce made up about 23 percent of online sales in the last two months of the year.
In fact, you’ll recall that one of the big retail stories of last year showed mobile’s strength in driving visitors to websites. Walmart, for example, reported online visitors viewed more than 1.5 billion pages in the five days between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday, with 70 percent of that traffic coming from mobile websites.
Forrester reported that slightly more than two-thirds of multi-screen consumers began their shopping process from a smartphone last year, while 68 percent used them in stores.
This year, the impact of mobile commerce on holiday sales is likely to be higher, with more mobile technology shipped this year, better-optimized mobile sites (think Google’s new algorithm) and better mobile payment choices.
Industry analysts at Gartner are particularly bullish about mobile’s future. Gartner this year predicted that mobile would comprise fully half of all US digital commerce revenue by 2017, driven by changing customer behaviors as they engage using mobile devices.
Asking The Right Questions
The good news is that there’s still time to optimize your mobile strategy for the 2015 holidays, but speed is of the essence. It’s good to start with the right questions:
• What’s your mobile app strategy? What apps have you built, and how are they part of your business strategy?
If you are like many brands, you are using responsive, mobile-friendly websites and native mobile apps to engage mobile users. You can measure success with metrics like time spent in app, total app users, influence on offline sales, ad impressions, customer conversions and more.
If you don’t have any mobile apps, now is the time to get prepared for next year.
• How do you manage your apps? Mobile engagement requires fast load times, easy-to-read screens and readily activated “calls to action” as a foundation. Start with the basics by extending enterprise tagging to mobile apps and sites, including analytics applications.
You also can reduce costs and greatly improve marketing agility by using technology that enables you to make changes on the fly, optimize apps and respond personally to shoppers in real time.
A no-SDK (software development kit) approach means marketers can make the changes without going back to developers for time-consuming coding and re-submission to app stores.
Cost-saving metrics include time to implement; the cost of using app developers versus enabling the marketing team to make adjustments on the fly; and the benefits of better in-app and mobile tracking.
• Can you track and engage the consumer cross-channel? Data is the foundation for a coherent marketing strategy across a complex ecosystem of channels and devices. But you need to collect and integrate all data sources as a single source of truth, including mobile.
For example, you will want to collect data generated by the new micro-location and proximity-based tools, as well as unique interactions within mobile channels. This single view of the customer enables the marketing team to make both in-app and online offers based on comprehensive user profiles containing individual behaviors and preferences.
• Are you testing mobile apps in real time? No-SDK technology enables marketing to do A/B and multivariate testing in real time. That’s a huge boost to marketing agility and performance.
A/B testing, for example, enables marketers to test for two variations of a single app screen (as opposed to a traditional Web page), adjusting items like buttons and swapping in new content to test.
Multivariate testing may include multiple variations of a single app screen, with any number of element changes (for example, images, colors, text, location of elements and so on). By optimizing mobile apps in real time, you can increase time on page and better ensure specific actions like clicks on a button, products added to carts and more.
• What about analytics? Managing analytics capabilities in mobile apps can help the marketing team generate revenue-generating metrics. These include conversion rates (form completions and purchases), in-app ad views, total app users and time spent in the app.
Marketing strategy — built on omni-channel data integrated as a single source of the truth — drives engagement, conversion and loyalty, regardless of whether it’s the peak holiday season or some other time of the year. It comes down to the customer experience, the fundamental metric for improving mobile engagement.