Mobile adoption and commerce is entering a new era of growth. Spurred by increased consumer usage of mobile devices for searching, shopping, promotions, marketing, and buying on-device and in-store, its outlook is nothing but positive. Brands now have a wide range of creative technologies and campaigns to put mobile at the core of their marketing and reach consumers anytime, anywhere.
However, 2014 should also be a year not just to innovate, but to avoid repeating these mobile mistakes made by brands in the past.
The bottom line is that mobile is growing so fast that brands simply can't afford to ignore it. It may seem daunting and expensive, and we may even feel out of our league. But let's face it: The old days of spam emails, flashing banner ads, and browser pop-ups are slowly going by the wayside as both consumers and marketers become increasingly savvy, intelligent, and demanding in their expectations: on their terms, on their time, and on the device or channel of their choosing.
As a marketer, you must use what you already know about your audience to inform mobile campaigns and focus on the tactics that will be most beneficial to your audience. Ask the right questions, including: Where and how do they interact with your brand? Is social, TV, radio, or web more effective? What do they want from you while on the go? What's more compelling: coupons, tickets, check-ins, or updates?
It's important to steer into what your audience data is silently telling you and test the mobile waters in various places. But don't wait too long -- the mobile ship will indefinitely sail without you if you fail to get on board.
Build an app just for the sake of building an app
In cases where app ROI and revenue are not your main concern, a mobile app may be a great solution for meeting other objectives. However, for brands that are dependent on mobile marketing initiatives to carry a heavy ROI load, deciding to build an app is a more complex process.
Often, there are other types of mobile content that will get the job done with less effort and heartache -- such as videos, coupons, SMS, branded numbers, mobile activated contests, social engagement, etc. However, as technology improves, and the barriers to viewing and delivering different types of content across the full spectrum of devices are broken down, it will be important to consider whether other types of content can meet the same goals as an app with much less investment.
Not give mobile the support and experience that it deserves
Nearly every conference I attended this year pertaining to mobile heavily focused on the topics of mobile optimization and responsive design. If fact, I am still amazed by how many brands and sites have not optimized digital assets for mobile yet. When it comes to your brand, if the user experience doesn't delight, you can say goodbye to audiences.
If you do not optimize specifically for mobile, not only will you be left behind in your mobile efforts, but your brand will suffer across the board. Mobile is evolving into the central channel through which your brand is accessed. There are no excuses for not developing and designing for it accordingly. Even if you don't have a specific push around mobile, assume consumers will access your brand on-the-go at some point. And as they say, first impressions are everything.
Bank on QR codes to do the trick
There was a time when the QR code was effective, but as mobile tech progresses, and consumers become smarter, pickier, and more savvy about how they receive mobile content, these funky bar codes aren't going to do the trick.
The problem lies within the execution, not the idea. Because QR codes require an app download on top of an already foreign behavior (scanning a barcode), there is too much room for breakage. If your code fails to scan or the reception is bad, they simply aren't going to work. What's more is that QR codes are only really effective on print advertising -- consumers can't scan a TV or radio announcement -- which means you could be missing out on a huge audience and their engagement potential.
Fail to embrace showrooming
The term "showrooming" often conjures feelings of fear, doubt, and worry. It's understandable -- you worked so hard to get consumers into your store, and now you have to compete with the World Wide Web right in front of you. But in truth, retailers need to embrace showrooming. Yes, the fear is that they are going to shop in your store and then buy it cheaper elsewhere. But before mobile technologies came along, you had no idea who was in your store. Now you have the opportunity to reengage and know who is there.
Using strategies such as check-in and in-store mobile coupons will increase the likelihood that they will buy with you on the spot. The human factor is still one of the most crucial aspects of in-store sales, and the customer experience is becoming far more influential than price when it comes to shopping preferences. By using mobile to swiftly give consumers what they want exactly when they want it -- whether it be a discount, a credit card, or loyalty program -- sales associates can improve both customer satisfaction and retail profits.
Treat mobile as a stand-alone channel
Mobile is no longer a single channel or one component to be ticked off a list. Instead, it is the central focus -- the hub -- to which all other campaign channels lead. It is time to use customized calls-to-action on every channel -- broadcast, print, email, web -- to direct shoppers to their mobile phones in order to execute a quick, easy task, such as typing in a code, making a call, or pulling up your app.
This is a great way to let customers opt in to receiving brand-related goodies such as promos and discounts, as well as to allow their data to be shared across channels for a more personal, individualized approach. Mobile amplifies the efforts of every other channel and makes the connections between them; no matter where customers see the CTA, they will go right to their phones and take action.
As mobile marketing capabilities continue to expand, we're already seeing some innovative and creative ways to take advantage of these new technologies. Let 2014 be the year your brand was known for innovating in mobile, not fumbling with it.
Ashley Eckel is the director of marketing at Zoove.
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