Two Mobile Marketing Questions You Shouldn’t Ask, And The One That Really Matters
What are the key questions mobile marketers should be asking? Columnist Craig Weinberg helps you determine what to focus on to bring your mobile strategy to the next level.
See if you can spot the most important question mobile marketers can ask themselves right now. Here are your options:
- What’s our mobile advertising strategy?
- Is our app discovery strategy working?
- How are we making money from mobile?
If you’re like many mobile marketers, you had a knee-jerk “It’s this one!” answer to either (or maybe both) of the first two questions. But those are both too limited in scope, and it’s that kind of thinking that has kept most brands far behind where they should be in their mobile evolution.
So how can marketers get out of that mindset and into a more connected (and profitable) one?
First, we’ll take a step back and reset the definition of what it means to be mobile. Then, we’ll look at a couple of harsh mobile realities that can help snap marketers into a better frame of mind. Finally, we’ll show marketers ways to help that new, enlightened mindset pay off.
Let’s jump in.
What Does It Mean To Be “Mobile?”
Mobile does not mean apps, and it doesn’t mean how your site looks on a smartphone. Those are important components, yes, but “mobile” encompasses your product, your marketing, your content, your customer service touch points and every other opportunity for your brand to connect with your customers.
And what is it that most companies are currently talking about? They’re talking about getting the app out, testing social buying and getting IT to sign off on mobile “readiness” plans that won’t roll out until 2017, when customers’ expectations will have changed radically from what they are today.
They’re talking about attribution, SDKs (software development kits) and a bunch of other ad tech topics geared toward understanding just how many ads can be stuffed onto a user’s phone before he or she tunes the messaging out completely.
They’re talking frantically about how to get their apps more eyeballs and wondering when their apps are going to be front and center on iTunes or Google Play, but they’re not asking the most basic question: Does it deserve to be?
Some Harsh Truths About Mobile
Let’s face it, your app is not going to be the next Facebook, Periscope (Apple’s 2015 App of the Year), YouTube, Pandora or Uber — it’s just not. And if it is, that’s much more a function of how your app fills a need for a mobile user than of how well you’re spreading awareness of it.
Truth #1: The vast majority of apps fail. Your app is going to fail, if it hasn’t already. (Note: That doesn’t mean it’s dead, and it doesn’t mean it needs to be in the app graveyard, and we’ll get to that.)
Remember your own app usage; how many apps have you downloaded in the last week, month, year — and opened more than once? And of those apps, think of just why you’ve opened them. It’s not because the icon looked cool, is it?
Measuring your success or failure as being the next Facebook is not the goal, young Padawan. Measure how much revenue your mobile touch points drive, how much more quickly your customers reach customer service and so on.
Plan how to offer your users features and benefits above and beyond your competition’s, and deliver your core users thoughtful delights and rewards for, well, just being your most valuable users!
Truth #2: Mobile in a vacuum will not work. If you’re focused on incremental steps like choosing the right SDK or buttoning up the CPA (cost per action) of that one campaign that ended a month ago, and you’re doing those things because that’s what you’re supposed to report on in meetings, you’re going to look up in three, six or 12 months and wonder just how it is that your competitors got so far ahead.
When I first cut my teeth on ringtones, SMS shortcodes and album art phone wallpaper (back in ye olde days, 2006–09), we quickly learned that plastering Billy Joel’s SMS shortcode with a CTA to text in for a few MP3s in exchange for joining his fan club doesn’t get you very far if that shortcode isn’t plastered on Billy’s site, his physical albums, his posters, in concert venues and so on. If no one sees it, it’s as if it isn’t happening.
Leverage everything you’ve got to make mobile front and center. Don’t spend more money advertising your mobile product/touch points unless you absolutely need to. Think about how the pieces fit into the whole, and always, always, always, think like one of your users. We’re all mobile consumers.
Truth #3: There is no silver bullet. Getting mobile right is going to take testing, rigor and lessons from failure. Buckle your chinstraps.
In theory, this one is easy to understand. In reality, it sucks. It’s a struggle. It’s a peaks-and-valleys learning process.
Give your team flexibility, and staff them with the right resources and proper tools. Ask yourself, if this weren’t new, and if I actually understood what this business is, would I be as resistant to giving it the resources it deserves?
This is it, folks — If you don’t give mobile all you’ve got, the stakes are too high, and you will probably crash. What works for Starbucks probably isn’t going to work for you.
But one tactic Starbucks used could work for you, just as one Home Depot tactic, one Facebook tactic, one Airbnb tactic, and the list goes on. Good marketers borrow; great marketers steal!
So What Now?
Here’s how to get momentum: Stop worrying about climbing the charts. Let go of the fear of not getting featured by Apple or Google.
Instead, devote yourself to:
- Creating a useful product that provides value, utility or entertainment to your customer within a comfortable, intuitive experience. (Defining and refining those simple values is about to be the hardest journey you’ve faced in digital, no matter how experienced your team.)
- Making sure you’re set up to track the data that proves how useful (and to whom) your product is — or whether it needs to get a whole lot better.
- Setting aside test budgets and getting people on board with the idea that lessons learned from tests are more important than a little incremental revenue those tests might produce.
Ask new questions, too. Here’s a sample of questions that can open up real opportunity:
- What about that app you developed a year ago, ignored and stopped nurturing? Can we reawaken those users, or are they lost forever because we ignored them? Can we improve the on-boarding journey of your app by a few screens and increase engagement?
- What new development features coming through Apple and Google’s pipeline can we build into our app that will make our customers’ lives easier, more productive, happier or simply faster so they can get on with their day and have a warm feeling about using you?
- What key features are people using in your service or in your product that we can home in on, and, simply put, do more of?
- How, when and why do your customers engage with your product or service? How sure are you of your data?
Does all of this mean that your team should ignore steps like app store optimization, SDK integration and a better, more intuitive mobile site? No, no and no. But those steps cannot be your focus.
Build a culture committed to testing, iteration, understanding the mobile journey as both wholly unique and vital to integrate within an overall digital mission, and you’re a long way toward catching up with your customers.
Buying mobile media geared toward performance goals and designing a slick-looking app, in other words, is pretty much the bare minimum. If you’ve got the right agency or digital hire, your entire mobile revenue strategy will be under rigorous, systematic examination, with the customers (and data) telling you whether you’re on the right track.