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How to make the most of mobile marketing in an omnichannel world

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14th Jul 2015
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Smartphone, tablet, connected TV, wearable device, desktop and laptop: what do these all have in common? They are all touchpoints that make up the modern shopper’s purchase journey. Yet, the biggest challenge faced by advertisers today is being able to understand the customer journey across these devices and deliver personalised content that is relevant, optimised and seamless across screens.

And of all touch points, there is one which is proving the ‘challenger channel’: mobile. Mobile uptake is on the rise, and for many consumers it is the channel that ties their shopping journey together. Consider this: in 2014, global mobile traffic increased by 69% and shows no sign of stopping. In addition, research from RetailMeNot shows that mobile commerce spend in the UK is set to grow by 77.8% in 2015, outstripping the rest of the world. The sharp rise in mobile traffic indicates that an effective mobile strategy should be high on marketers’ agendas, and as a result marketers are having to adapt their campaigns to address these changing shopping habits.

However, marketers shouldn’t forget that desktop sales still own the lion’s share of the market in terms of driving conversions. The same report from RetailMeNot shows that while mobile commerce is growing at more than twice the rate of desktop ecommerce, it still only accounts for 26.6% of online retail sales.

There are two points to take from this: firstly, fast growth shows that mobile commerce is making swift gains to catch up with the power of desktop, so clearly there’s an opportunity here to convert mobile traffic into sales. This isn’t happening yet, but with the right approach marketers could obtain a much larger return from this channel. Secondly, mobile is one cog in the wheel towards driving customers to a purchase. An omnichannel approach is essential for brands to drive sales because consumers are considering purchases and typically using numerous brand touch points before they buy.

Our own network data supports this, showing that the average consumer has nine interactions with a brand before committing to a purchase. Mobile cannot be viewed in a vacuum. Today’s user journeys are multi-device, and multi-channel. Both desktop and mobile channels are valuable components of the customer journey which need to be addressed individually, yet as parts of a greater whole. The conversion funnel is becoming cross device, and that is creating a disruption poised to change the landscape of online commerce as we know it. How can marketers win in this new environment?

Winners and losers

Firstly, they need to pay attention to the mobile monetisation gap. Marketers already know they must optimise the funnel to achieve conversion, yet many still haven’t even optimised their websites or landing pages for mobile. Similarly, many mobile ads are still unengaging, poorly targeted and disjoined from the rest of the customer journey. Mobile ads are not just desktop ads on a smaller screen, they need to be created and tailored specifically for a different shopping environment. Strong creative designed for mobile brands can achieve this; for example more value is added to a campaign when ads become interactive or when the product image or information is dynamic. If brands don’t tailor their ads to mobile, they will see diminished viewability, which leads to poor consumer engagement and fails to drive ROI.

Targeted reach is another area that needs attention. Mobile ad spend is expected to reach £3.3bn this year, a 45% growth from 2014. In order to make sure their budgets are spent well, marketers need to make sure that they understand their target customers’ patterns and how to best use the data they are able to glean. Today, there is more data being processed than ever before, largely because of the advances in data processing technologies that make it possible to do more with less.

The fact that vast amounts of data can quickly and cost effectively be processed opens the door for more relevant and personalised advertising. The challenge for marketers is to be able to effectively tie together the different data strands that originate from the cross device user journeys. For example, brands have been able to remarket to shoppers on one channel after an abandoned purchase for a long time, but now because consumers are now moving from channel to channel retailers need a single customer view to serve the right content at the right time. With access to cross-channel insight, brands can remarket based on the context of the consumer’s whole journey.

One of the most effective ways to achieve this is to glue together probabilistic and deterministic user data to derive a cross device user graph with reach and accuracy. This enables marketers to identify and reach consumers across devices at scale. This methodology also allows for cross-channel attribution, which not only optimises campaigns and improves ROI, but also delivers advertising that is more sophisticated, relevant and increasingly personalised to each customer.

As advertisers continue to navigate today’s complex mobile landscape, there will be winners and losers – harking back to the initial ecommerce revolution in the early 2000s. The stakes for advertisers to truly understand the omnichannel journey have never been higher – but with the right insight and tools, this opens up a whole new era of opportunity to reach the ever-evolving consumer. 

Rakhee Jogia is director of display at Rakuten Marketing Europe

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