The mobile phone has come to represent the most pervasive channel of communications and targeted engagement on the planet with nearly 90 percent of the world’s population reached. Portia Research projects over 6.5 billion mobile subscribers worldwide by the end of 2012; annual handset shipments of over 2.15 billion by 2016; and a global market projected to generate total service revenue of nearly $8 trillion over the next five years.
The immediacy, convenience, pervasiveness and personal attachment to mobile devices make this medium an ideal means of expanding marketing messages and enhancing engagement with a global customer base. Mobile social networking has not only become a better way to touch and understand customers, but it has also given consumers the ability to gain affirmation about brands, products, prices and merchant experiences from trusted friends, family and peers.
The mobile channel is an unprecedented opportunity to reach consumers in developed markets in new and intrusive ways, and to access the previously untapped, unreachable, and unbanked mass of humanity in emerging economies. An estimated 2.5 billion adults (more than half of the world’s adult population) do not use any form of formal financial services, yet about 70 percent of all people on the planet use a cell phone.
Consumer Advising Eclipsing Advertising
Using traditional advertising to engage and activate an audience is rapidly being eclipsed by the pervasive nature of social media networks, massive mobile device dependency, as well as the awesome analytics capability of cloud-based, business intelligence providers, which are pioneering new relationship marketing practices.
More targeted, timely and helpful messaging and info sourcing through mobile communications channels are helping consumers get trusted advice, find the right products and source the best deals, any place, at any time. In addition, customers are now empowered to transact and interact on demand without any limitations or restrictions on where and how they buy.
Brands are digging into online customer conversations, content postings and social media data in a big way to assume a new role as consumer concierge” or personal lifestyle assistant. They are gaining greater marketing efficiency, effectiveness and campaign response by using personal insights gleaned from public domain information in social media networks, blogs, tweets, websites, online communities, chat rooms, bulletin boards, contact centers, help desks and affinity groups to provide more relevant information, education, guidance, assistance, and individualized recommendations.
Customer insight, intimacy and engagement are essential to sustaining successful brands. Yet for many companies, especially those who sell through indirect channels or to cash-only customers, connecting with and influencing the customer is a serious struggle. Consumer marketers around the world are now trying to overcome these traditional obstacles by leveraging the power of the web and mobile social networking to create more direct relationships with customers.
The Move to Mobile Relationship Marketing
The Chief Marketing Officer Council predicts Mobile Relationship Marketing will transform the marketing mix and enable brands to engage at every stage of the consumer lifecycle. An effective MRM strategy will integrate social interaction; customer insight gathering and analytics; consumer engagement and loyalty; market listening; purchase incentive or inducement; as well as lifetime revenue optimization, all through optimized use of the mobile channel.
Marketers will employ new mobile apps, location-based messaging, proximity marketing, and smart merchandising systems in store to attract and engage consumers in any place e they are willing to interact, transact or stay in contact with brands. This includes retail, sports, entertainment, destination, education, mass transit, and travel environments.
Operationalizing MRM will help companies across multiple industries maintain continuous customer touch and interaction, sustained support and service, closer and more dependent connectivity, as well as greater insight and intimacy. MRM has vast potential to create business value, improve process efficiency, trigger product consumption and use, further loyalty and repeat purchase, as well as increase customer feedback, assistance, affinity and advocacy.
The CMO Council envisages a new PROMPT Model of Mobile Relationship Marketing. This framework will include key drivers of revenue, response and retention:
More intimate, individualized messaging, handling and engagement
Insight-driven contact and offer delivery based on behavior, preference and circumstance
Making contact, conversion, closure and commerce easier, quicker and more satisfying
Reward, inducement, benefit or perk that prompts action, induces trial or encourages repeat purchase
Geo-targeting and location-based messaging to attract customers, maximize traffic and trigger impulse buying
Customer life stage tracking, social media monitoring, and wireless user analytics to time contact and deal delivery based on highest levels of predisposition
Unfortunately, just 16 percent of 250 plus global marketers surveyed by the CMO Council in mid-2012 said they have a formal strategy for using mobile as a significant channel of customer engagement, convenience and gratification. But participants in the recent Engage at Every Stage study have no hesitation in identifying the most important ways they can use mobile channel, namely to:
- provide more personalized and relevant messaging (49 percent);
- deliver value-added services not offered by competitors (35 percent); and
- multiply the quality and frequency of communication (34 percent).
There’s no doubt brands see mobile relationship marketing as a critical area to gain competency and competitive advantage. Big drivers include the high level of lifestyle and business dependence on mobile devices, the proliferation of mobile apps, growing mobile social media engagement, and ever-faster wireless networks that can deliver rich media content.
While interest is high, skepticism exists as many marketers feel that today’s mobile channel is filled with false claims, unmet expectations, lack of visibility, and few best practice leaders. Not surprisingly, 77 percent of marketers surveyed by the CMO Council would like to see more case studies of best practices or success stories. Organizations like the CMO Council are advancing new models for MRM and showcasing innovations from both developed and emerging growth countries where mobile subscribers far outnumber online Internet users.
Bear in mind the comments of Lucas Herscovici, head of digital marketing at Anheuser-Busch InBev: “The advantage of mobile is that it’s always on, and you can reach more people in an extremely local and relevant way. The biggest challenge, on the other hand, is that there are so many different platforms and no standard. All devices have different capabilities, so you can’t engage with all consumers in the same way.”
Donovan Neale-May is executive director of the Chief Marketing Officer Council (www.cmocouncil.org).
Edited by Brooke Neuman