sitecore logoMarketers today are faced with an increasingly complex world. In this series — Marketing with Experience: How experience marketing is shaping the future — we explore the many ways experience marketing has become essential to the success — and how to succeed at it. Brought to you to by Sitecore — see the whole series here.

Are you doing mobile marketing or mobile experience marketing? You might be surprised how significant the difference a single word makes.

For instance, had U.K.-based Monarch Airlines only engaged in mobile marketing, it would be satisfied with a mobile-friendly website, SMS, and perhaps push notification capabilities with which to deliver marketing campaigns to its customers. But Monarch went beyond the device and delved into the experience.

Monarch studied its customers’ behavior and how they would use their mobile devices relative to the service it provides. If a couple changed their Malaga vacation plans to go skiing in the Alps instead, Monarch would deliver personalized promotions and content to reflect this behavior, crafting a real-time mobile experience customized to these individual customers’ needs and wants.

This is mobile experience marketing. It goes beyond shooting a campaign-driven SMS and actually enriches the mobile experience of its users, making it easy for them to do what they want — and at the same time, delivering promotions and offers that are contextually relevant and therefore valuable.

The misconception behind the “mobile doesn’t work” mindset

Marketers aren’t really caught up in the “mobile doesn’t work” mindset anymore, primarily because they’re realizing the mistake that led to that incorrect conclusion.

When mobile marketing first emerged, marketers simply migrated traditional techniques and processes into mobile capabilities such as mobile-friendly sites. But mobile devices aren’t used the same way as TVs or PCs. Traditional approaches fall flat in this new realm.

As the number of mobile device users continue to skyrocket and with Google openly supporting mobile-friendly sites, it appears that the industry is shifting to a mobile-first mindset. But leaving it at that is flawed.

It’s not mobile-first; it’s customer-first. With the consumer at the center of his own world and with on-demand marketing at his fingertips, his overall experience needs to be improved. It just so happens that his journey usually starts (and indeed, can entirely happen) on mobile. Thus the significance of the word “experience” in mobile experience marketing. He shouldn’t just receive blasts of marketing material — the content he sees on mobile should be relevant and contextual to his experiences and immediate needs.

Moving to a true holistic view of the customer

That said, mobile experience marketing is still in its early stages, and there remains a huge area of opportunity: marketers need to have a holistic view of their consumer. They need to completely understand the touch points in the customer’s journey and customize the content they engage with along the way.

A common problem marketers face when trying to draw this complete view of the customer is the technology fragmentation that comes with collecting data from the multiple channels in a customer’s journey. The average marketing firm uses 21 different point solutions in its campaigns to do this. But the more technology you bring into marketing, the more datasets you need to incorporate, and the harder it is to bring all the information together to shape the consumer experience.

On delivering mobile experiences

Despite what separates mobile experience marketing from traditional marketing, there still are some fundamental truths. Focus on the core concepts and try not to be blinded by all the shiny solutions delivering more features than the last.

The cornerstones of mobile experience marketing are quite simple:

  • Know your customer — Understand what your customers want and expect from their mobile experiences, and then bring your research and innovation into the equation. This is where information collection and digital savvy data analysts play a significant role in deciphering mobile device user data. Mobile is a still-emerging front of digital marketing. Marketers are reveling in the many technological solutions in the space, but at the same time, with the disconnected datasets of each solution, it is increasingly harder to pull together the single view of the customer that allows marketers to truly embrace them as individuals.
  • Go beyond the device — Mobile experience marketing isn’t actually about the device. The device is the enabler allowing brands to connect with customers. Leading companies understand that devices are only the bridges to their consumers. How they use that bridge is what’s important: for instance, a retailer building a mobile-friendly site that allows customers to create digital shopping lists that integrate with the stocking systems of their physical stores and enable customers to easily use shopping lists on mobile and ensure their items are available for purchase. That’s going well beyond the device and into the experience – thinking about their customers’ shopping behavior and how they can make the experience better. And through this approach they create opportunities to deliver truly relevant and valuable content and marketing messaging to their users.

The era of the Chief Experience Officer

With mobile here to stay, brands should prepare to accept mobile experience marketing as the new normal. And with this new norm comes pitfalls they need to avoid.

First and foremost: stop thinking in silos, both in terms of user experience and organizational models. All the different marketing channels belong in one fluid, overall experience. This implies integration capabilities in the front and back end, the creation of a 360-degree view of consumer data, and a reshuffling of organizational models to reflect the significance of the unified experience.

Indeed, many companies are moving beyond traditional organization models and into more innovative approaches. They’re merging the previously different teams that comprise search, social and mobile, and some are even changing their chief marketing officers into chief experience officers.

Along with this organizational shift should come a drastic change in approach: there’s no such thing as traditional mobile experience marketing that works. It’s not about a single set of best practices but about customized user experiences across all devices, including mobile.

And perhaps the most momentous hurdle this new age of mobile experience marketing brings is the challenge of reaching operational efficiency.

  • First, brands need to map out their customer experience, understand what their audiences go through and what they want to achieve when engaging with their brands via mobile.
  • Second, the fragmented technology hampers a coherent view of customer data and behavior. Many marketers are simply building their own data warehouse to pull disparate data together into one view.
  • Finally, tying it all together to reach operational efficiency is nigh impossible without overcoming the first two hurdles. The process may be manual today. It will be table stakes tomorrow.

But done right, mobile experience marketing is a game-changer. It transcends both the digital and the physical – brands can easily merge both worlds.

Imagine a shopping aisle where a consumer use a retailer’s app to get information about products on the shelves, or get reviews through social media about certain brands being sold in real time. Imagine the retailer collecting their behavioral data through the app and leveraging it to offer promotions and content relevant to what the users are expressing interest in — at that very moment.

That’s effective mobile experience marketing. It increases customer engagement, satisfaction, and conversion rates when done right. It’s not mobile-first — it’s customer first.

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