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The 5 worst mobile marketing mistakes that brands make

The 5 worst mobile marketing mistakes that brands make Cezar Kolodziej

There's good news and bad news for all of you mobile advocates out there. The good news: Among consumers, mobile usage continues to surge, and more marketers are starting to get serious about it. The bad news: While more marketers are executing mobile campaigns, not all are being executed effectively, leaving many mobile marketing initiatives with dismal results. While we all make mistakes here and there, a major mobile faux pas can leave quite an unfavorable impression of your brand with customers.

The 5 worst mobile marketing mistakes that brands make

Of course there's no question as to why marketers industry-wide are eager to jump into mobile -- it has redefined the marketing standard. This is most notable in the retail market, as research reveals 47 percent of retailers believe mobile currently influences customer purchases more than half of the time. There has also been a dramatic shift in the path of purchase, with the customer journey now beginning on a mobile phone long before they walk into a store. It's the marketer's job to ensure a seamless customer journey, and that can only be accomplished when mobile marketing is done right.

Here are common mistakes marketers have made with their mobile campaigns and how you can avoid them.

Mistake: Not delivering optimized content

In a mobile campaign, providing optimized content and value to customers is essential. While this may seem obvious to most, a number of marketers have missed the mark. When executing a Black Friday/Cyber Monday email campaign in 2013, Amazon sent emails to customers that weren't mobile friendly. It's surprising that a company as progressive as Amazon would send an email with links to a non-mobile site when 50 percent of consumers now view emails on their phones. Another example of missing the mark on optimized content is the execution of messaging campaigns using MMS, which Macy's, Vans, and even Starbucks have all tried. But what often happens with MMS is the degradation of content using a one-size-fits-all approach. The resolution of an iPhone is drastically different than a Samsung Galaxy 4 or a BlackBerry. The user often receives content that won't work on their device or is illegible. Alternatives to this method include technologies like rich media messaging, which sends messaging content that conforms to each device's resolution and capabilities to ensure an optimal customer experience.

If a mobile campaign has flaws from the beginning, then there's little hope that the desired campaign objectives will make it out alive in the end. The initial planning for a mobile campaign is crucial, and success can only be achieved if we focus on the customer experience as it relates to the brand objective.

Mistake: Creating a complicated opt-in process

Using QR codes is complicated, which is likely the reason that they have delivered marketers with poor results. First, marketers going down the QR code route (depending on the target audience) are missing a hefty chunk of the consumer market, as a significant amount of them still have feature phones. Second, how many people actually have a QR scanner on their phone? Scanner apps aren't native apps for most devices. In order to opt-in to your campaign, participants would have to take the extra step to download the app, learn how to work the app, scan the QR code, and then hope that these steps will directly opt them into the campaign.

In the past, RadioShack included a QR code on one of its direct mail pieces. This technology landed scanners to a mobile website, which then input the consumer information online. Most customers have the initial thought that once they scan a QR code to receive special offers, the process should be over and done. Adding the additional step within a mobile campaign can lead to disinterest and complete abandonment from customers. So, keep it simple. Luckily for RadioShack's direct mail recipients, there was also an SMS opt-in alternative. But in a number of cases, marketers are leaving that option out, and customers are left feeling frustrated.

Mistake: Forgetting to spread the word to customers

Promotion is one of the most important ingredients in the marketing mix. Time and time again, brands have plans for great mobile programs, yet they forget to answer one question: How are customers supposed to find out about how to participate in the program? Just because you've built it doesn't mean they will come. Whether the aim is to drive opt-ins or app downloads, make your mobile campaigns efforts big and loud to the target audience. It's always recommended that multiple touchpoints be leveraged to encourage participation in a mobile program, which includes website, social media, in-store signage, etc.

It's no secret that a well-promoted campaign can generate big results. Avenue, a retailer for real-sized women, was able to achieve a 6,600 percent ROI with its rich media messaging mobile campaign by spreading the word to customers through social media, in-store, email, and online promotion. Avenue sent compelling images and attractive offers to encourage customers to opt-in, as well as suggest to their friends to opt-in to the campaign through social media. Leveraging all of their available touchpoints, the retailer was able to see a dramatic increase in store traffic and overall sales.

Mistake: Missing the call to action

Along with promotion, there also needs to be a strong call-to-action. Target made a critical error while introducing its in-store app. Customers were told an app was available to help their shopping experience, but the in-store signage didn't inform or provide a value proposition for downloading the app. While Target had good intentions to enhance the shopper experience, perhaps it would have been a little more helpful if people were informed of what the app did and where it was available.

Mistake: Not integrating a mobile campaign with other touchpoints to create a powerful omni-channel experience

Marketers who view mobile as a separate entity instead of a piece to the overall marketing campaign are missing an incredible opportunity. With all the options a consumer has to engage with your brand, it is very likely that every customer will choose a unique path to purchase. With that reality upon us, it is important to know how to direct traffic between your campaign touchpoints. From a mobile perspective, this starts with knowing your customers and the devices that they have in their hands. Unique technologies like rich media messaging allow the marketer to get this information in real-time and drive the customer to the next interaction point. This all depends on the device capabilities, thus resulting in an optimal brand and customer experience.

The bottom line

While marketers can't be perfect with every campaign move, there are ways in which they can avoid making these common mistakes.

Here a few tips to consider for your next mobile campaign:

  • Integrate mobile in to the overall marketing campaign.

  • Spread the word to customers.

  • Deliver optimized content.

  • Create a user-friendly opt-in process.

  • Include an effective call-to-action.

Keeping these tips in mind will help keep you on the right track to delivering real results with your next mobile marketing campaign.

Cezar Kolodziej is president, CEO, and co-founder of Iris Mobile.

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"Barber shaving off too much hair" image via Shutterstock.

Cezar Kolodziej, PhD is the President, CEO and Co-Founder of Iris Mobile. He is widely recognized as one of foremost mobile technologist and visionary experts on MMS, rich media messaging and universal mobile marketing. He is actively participating...

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