To achieve this level of personalization, companies will need to obtain data across devices and platforms, and then integrate it into a holistic consumer profile. They must be able to generate insights from the data that can be used to inform segmentation, marketing strategies, and spending. And, of course, they will need algorithmic and engineering expertise to deliver relevant, personalized messages to consumers wherever they are.
Second, think three years out, but start building today. Companies face a challenge as they try to get out ahead of the mobile curve. If they don’t build now, they risk ceding leadership positions to their competitors. But if they commit when the endgame is not completely clear, they risk betting on the wrong capabilities and wasting valuable resources.
Start by creating a vision that involves and is embraced by the full organization—not just by marketing and sales, but by all the functions that will help bring it to life, such as IT, human resources, and finance. Just as some companies have been using “digital first” as a way to focus on the online experience, they should now rally around “mobile first” as a way to inspire groups throughout the organization to create integrated customer experiences that stretch from pre-store research to in-store engagement (both at the shelf and online) to post-store sharing via social media.
With a vision in place, companies have the basis for developing the detailed road map needed to bring that vision to fruition. To begin building a mobile capability today that will still be relevant and differentiated by the time it is built out, companies need to leverage best practices in agile development and rapid prototyping, apply a user-centric perspective, and be able to iterate quickly to find the best ways to drive engagement and conversion.
Third, don’t just advertise, activate. Although mobile advertising campaigns can be highly effective if they are contextually relevant, to fully capture the mobile opportunity, don’t think of mobile simply as a delivery channel for advertising. Instead, think of it as a connector between digital and physical life. The primary role of mobile technology in the marketing ecosystem should be brand activation, that is, directly engaging consumers through content and offers.
Activation can take place pre-store. For instance, mobile enables consumers to multitask while watching TV: They can research a product they’ve just seen advertised via a tailored app or mobile-optimized website and, thus, move from entertainment mode into shopping mode. Activation can be sparked in-store, too, for example, through a call to action on a display or on product packaging that can be triggered via the consumer’s device. Once activation is achieved, mobile can be used to ensure sales. For instance, the Kmart Corporation has created a Ship to Home service that enables a shopper who can’t find a product on the store floor to use a mobile phone to have it shipped to his or her home free.
Activation can even occur after the purchase via activities like photo sharing, reviews, and tweets through which consumers share reactions to their purchases, or indicate consideration of future purchases. To fully leverage digital engagement and build end-to-end experiences, marketers need to focus not only on crafting pre-store solutions, but also on reinforcing a customer’s emotional connection with the brand all the way through post-purchase activities.
Many companies will need to develop stronger capabilities across several functions, including insight development, content marketing, data analytics, and technology integration, to capture the opportunities in mobile activation. This will require nurturing new talent in the organization and working together in new ways.
Fourth, approach mobile as a team sport. If mobile is to be the glue that holds once disconnected parts of the consumer experience together, it will necessarily cross the internal and external boundaries of the marketing ecosystem. Mobile takes a team.