Why Mobile is the Nexus of Commerce

Mobile is more than just another marketing channel. It’s the nexus of all marketing vehicles, where varied sources, messages and content types come together. It has proven its effectiveness in driving commerce, but few retailers value mobile as the commerce hub that it has become.

In fact, mobile is still worked on begrudgingly. While many companies espouse a “mobile-first” mindset, it’s still secondary. Designing for mobile is tough, tactical, and less about creative than it is experience design.

Marketers are often guilty of similar disregard. Mobile is complex; there are many different layers creating variances that challenge marketers’ abilities to read the channel. Marketers are also boxed in by mobile, having to ruthlessly prioritize content for a smaller space.

The issue with those mentalities is that they’re completely internal and not customer centric. The customer doesn’t care if it’s hard to design on mobile, they don’t care if it’s challenging to prioritize content—that’s where they want to purchase. More importantly, they’re coming to mobile through every other marketing channel. And that’s where brands need to invest time and resources: the intricate jungle of tangled webs from mobile to social, digital ads, email, and loyalty.

Focal point of social engagement

Social is often over-hyped. It’s omnipresent in everyone’s life, but sometimes marketers over-estimate the link between social engagement and conversion. Numbers are sometimes inflated by loyal members who also engage on social, but one of social’s main goals is to attract and acquire new customers. At surface level it’s already a difficult task, but it’s made more difficult by the fact that few retailers have well-formulated plans for social traffic. Again, the clear majority is on mobile devices.

Another obstacle is that identifying customer motive is still a grey area. What was the content that drove a customer to purchase? Was it sent by a friend first? Was it paid or organic? Promotional or branded? Did it feature product? If so, what kind? There are numerous variables that need to be parsed to develop an action-plan. Many marketers simply take a shortcut and provide generic experiences because it’s too difficult to dive that deep into the numbers.

But as with anything in marketing, it’s best to start small—and even minor changes have outsized benefits. Test-and-learn is paramount. Start with the largest common denominator and advance to the next one. Over time, a detailed and intricate social plan to convert new customers will become natural.  More importantly, marketers will be able to identify the source and motivation of those customers—and knowledge is power.

Email and in-store experiences

Both email and in-store experiences have obvious and well-written connections to mobile. Email’s efficacy is completely tied to mobile experiences. Email is now almost a solely mobile platform for customers. The connections are easier to identify than social. Email mostly has a specific value proposition or product focus—mobile owners need to tailor experiences to those customers given the data integrity that they have on those individuals and the clear delineation of product or motive for click-through.

In-store experiences

Store experiences can be more complicated. Marketers know that customers showroom, comparing products and prices. What’s unclear is how effective in-store mobile and app experiences are when they’re driven by the brand. Those programs are typically app-based and driven by geolocation or a specific user experience such as augmented reality or sweepstakes. They are often driven by the urgency to generate foot traffic, not well-mapped customer experiences.

Again, the issue here is that customers don’t think like retailers. Instead of investing in an app that very few people will use, why not design mobile with stores in mind?

What do customers really want when they’re showrooming? It’s quite simple: they want more information about products and similar items, including price, on-figure photography, product descriptions, and alternate colors. So why not give it to them quickly and painlessly? Design mobile to get customers to product as quickly as possible, and enhance product photography and descriptions to make their experiences positive and informative so they can make purchase decisions in store.

Loyalty

Loyalty is possibly the most important mobile key to keep customers top-of-mind. Similar to mobile, loyalty is a nexus of many channels—desktop, mobile, app—they’re all important in building effective loyalty marketing, and none more so than mobile.

Brands often get loyalty wrong because they’re thinking retail-first. The misrepresentation of the customer is that he or she wants to spend significant time within the program looking at branded content, reading about the company, and engaging in a variety of other activities. That couldn’t be further from the truth.

The best loyalty programs are the ones that customers barely even realize they’re in. They want to check points balances, get notifications when they have rewards, and take advantage of evergreen soft benefits. That’s it. Very few customers–even the best customers–want to spend time in a loyalty experience.  Not to mention that brands should want to move customers on to product as quickly as possible to drive purchases.

Nowhere is that problem more prevalent in mobile than it is with loyalty apps. They’re clunky, underutilized, and provide too much extraneous content. Instead, brands should focus their resources on integrating loyalty seamlessly into their mobile experiences. Integrating directly into mobile ensures that customers transition easily from the loyalty experience back into showrooming for mobile browsing. It gets them to product—and checkout—quicker and that’s the goal.

Mobile is commerce

Just as stores have lost traction, desktop ecommerce will lose some ground as well. Mobile is where customers spend their time. It’s where they view email, see advertisements, use social platforms and most importantly, where they buy.

Mobile is the junction of all customer experiences and commerce. Customer experiences need to evolve and build a new layer of complexity to align with the environment that customers are already in.

 Evan Magliocca is Brand Marketing Manager for Baesman Insights & Marketing

 

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