How brands can maximise the effectiveness of their mobile ad spend

The recent IAB report that mobile advertising spend has more than doubled is amazing news for marketers.

Money talks, and the creative and commercial potential that follows this level of recognition at the highest level is enormously exciting.

However, brands should be wary of allowing disconnect to grow between their mobile advertising investment and mobile relationship management investment. 

Mobile advertising is a fantastic way to acquire customers, and bring them to a brands doorstep, so to speak, or even invite them in for a first visit.

The challenge for brands is to make that investment effective in the longer term, which means finding ways to hold on to customers and encourage further visits.

This means focusing on mobile relationship building, and offering something that keeps the consumer coming back to the mobile channel (such as an app or mobile site) and following through with an on-going conversation and value exchange.

If mobile is to fulfill its potential to become the primary marketing channel, then its effectiveness as a relationship management platform must be realised. This is especially important when you consider the opportunities presented by mobile commerce; already nearly 70% of tablet owners make a purchase on their device each month. Brands will only be able to capitalise on this growing trend if they develop a more in-depth mobile relationship with the consumer.

The increasing migration of our lives to the digital world has seen mobile devices become an extension of our personal space. Brands that intrude upon that space must deliver on their promises or risk alienating the very consumers they are looking to engage.

As consumers increasingly live their lives through mobile, brands accordingly are looking to build their mobile presence – which is why mobile advertising is the first to grow as these brands seek to drive traffic.

However, the immediate next step must be to foster and build an audience for on-going communication. And this is a very different skill-set.

Truly understanding mobile as a relationship channel means understanding opt-in, understanding the right time to push a message, the right mobile channel to push it on, the right frequency at which to do so and the right kind of offer based on the individual customer’s history.

In the old pre-app days getting hold of the data to work all of that out was incredibly difficult. Today, with the detailed customer information available through apps and tracking available through mobile sites, it’s pretty straightforward. Now, the question is how quickly and how well brands can interpret and apply that data to make intelligent, actionable decisions about their communications.

By developing an ongoing mobile relationship management strategy, brands can capitalise on a variety of marketing opportunities, and create multiple interactions and touch-points through which they can build a stronger relationship with the consumer.

For instance, new customers who have downloaded a brand’s app could be rewarded with an offer in return for sharing more profile information. This information could be used for ongoing engagement, such as special offers matching customer preferences on birthdays or membership anniversaries.

Brands can follow up their mobile advertising activity with everything from SMS or in-app push notifications to complex interactive messaging. These could contain product information and loyalty communications, as well as a variety of promotional offers and rewards to create a genuine value exchange with the consumer.

This could be a telco upselling a 4G bundle to a 3G customer, a retailer alerting a customer about a new store opening in the customer’s neighbourhood or a brand sending an invite to a loyal customer for an exclusive event.

Such offers could be an effective strategy for retailers to respond to the increase in showrooming, where a shopper tries a product in-store, and uses their mobile to compare prices, and often then buys the product online from elsewhere. Recent research showed that around a quarter of all UK shoppers were carrying out mobile price comparison in-store, with over 40% saying they bought elsewhere as a direct result.

For example, sending a relevant offer in the form of a mobile coupon when the consumer is still in the store is a great way to encourage a purchase there and then. Especially when you consider that according to an OnDeviceResearch survey, 74% of respondents would be happy for a retailer to send a text or email with promotions while they’re using in-store Wi-Fi. Debenhams, for example encourages users of its apps and Wi-Fi to scan in-store QR codes for a free coffee.

Furthermore, such a mobile relationship management strategy need not be standalone. They could be integrated with existing loyalty programmes, thereby enriching the loyalty database.

A closed-loop approach to mobile data also allows brands to identify people that will be most impacted by a campaign, learn from their responses and incorporate them back into the targeting for future campaigns.

For instance, you can use previous campaign responses to predict whether a customer is more likely to respond to a 20% discount on a pizza or a free small pizza on purchase of two large pizzas, although both offers may be economically identical to the brand.

Ultimately, mobile should be seen as a conversation device with which to build stronger relationships with your customer base.

With any significant investment, marketers are under pressure to prove its worth.

By developing a mobile relationship management strategy, brands can cost effectively turn a one-time ad investment into a long-term campaign that gets them closer to their customers.

The only alternative, if brands choose to ignore this, is to over-invest in acquiring more new customers to replace the ones that came through the door, and left, never to be seen again.

 Adhish Kulkarni, CMO, Lumata.