The CMO’s Guide to Mobile: How to Delight Customers

The CMO’s Guide to Mobile reveals the golden opportunity that brands The CMO’s Guide to Mobile:  How to Delight Customers image cmo guideThe CMO’s Guide to Mobile: How to Delight Customersmiss by following conventional digital marketing approaches. Mobile is inherently more intimate than any other digital interface between customers and brands because it is integrated into every aspect of customers‘ lives—all the time and everywhere.

Conventional digital marketing is content centric and seeks to deliver relevant advertisements, marketing messages and promotions to customers. While these may add value, they fall far short of capitalizing on mobile’s potential, which is to create powerful, persistent trusted relationships with customers. According to IBM’s 2012 global retail survey, customers in fifteen developed and developing economies are rewarding fewer trusted brands with greater share of wallet (and rejecting less trusted brands).

Mobile is inherently more intimate than other digital interfaces yet current marketing practices focus on promotion and brand building, which squanders the chance to create relationship, stickiness and profit.

Before outlining a “Mobile to Delight” roadmap in the Guide to Mobile, I’ll summarize how to think different about mobile.

Using Mobile to Delight: The Secret Is Empowering Customers

It was hard to avoid hearing “mobile is big/transformational/superlative” everywhere we turned in 2013, but pundits largely missed mobile’s truly disruptive nature. Mobile is most powerful when brands help high-impact customers attain the outcomes they want when using the brand’s products (people buy holes, not drills). In 2013, telling customers you care has no impact; showing them is how brands break through. Mobile offers three main approaches to serve customers: 1) apps that empower them to attain specific outcomes; 2) location data to understand them better; 3) mobile data from smart devices to support outcomes.

Empower Users with Apps

In a 20th century sense, a sporting goods brand uses customer research The CMO’s Guide to Mobile:  How to Delight Customers image mob appsThe CMO’s Guide to Mobile: How to Delight Customersand its own testing to design products. In the 21st century and this guide to mobile, since customers (hereafter “users”) are talking in digital social venues about their activities, brands tap the social river to understand users’ motivations for pursuing activities for which they buy products and services. For example, skateboards are only a means to building users’ status among their friends, winning scholarships to college, wooing a romantic partner, etc. These are some outcomes of doing more impressive stunts.

The brand uses its knowledge of product design, features and outcomes to design and offer smartphone apps that help people learn stunts faster and find skateparks with certain characteristics and conditions. Learning stunts is one outcome but the motivation is social and emotional. The best apps explicitly support outcome and emotion.

In addition, when users use apps, they provide very granular information about their actions and outcomes, so apps become real-time learning labs to astute brands. Many apps provide social and gaming functions, so users can support and compete with each other.

When apps help users attain their highest priority outcomes, apps and brands become very important to users, who naturally reciprocate by committing more, which is shown through social actions. They interact more, share more, refer friends, prefer the brand’s products and services, share the app with friends (who tend to have similar outcomes) and volunteer their experiences and advice. They increase their involvement as a function of the importance of that outcome and the brand’s consistent usefulness and consideration.

Tablet apps are increasingly used to help business users, healthcare providers, engineers, and others to work more efficiently; for example, physicians seamlessly share x-rays, charts and other information—real-time and naturally—during patient conferences. Apps help students, cooks, hobbyists, and families do things that are most important to them. Tablets with well designed apps enable users to access and share information, video, music, and pictures to support their interactions with other people in the physical world.

Serve Users Better by Using Mobile Data

Mobile devices are digital and interactive, so they automatically provide The CMO’s Guide to Mobile:  How to Delight Customers image mob dataThe CMO’s Guide to Mobile: How to Delight Customersindividualized location and transaction data, which enables brands to understand individual user behavior in new ways, relatively inexpensively. The transactions give insight into users’ workstreams/activities, and location helps define context, as does time of day, how many other people are there, etc.

When users trust brands, they are more willing to share their data with them. Brands can buy de-identified data about various “types” of users, but data that’s tied to identified individuals are far more valuable. Brands earn the right to individual data when they consistently show that they care about and support users in their pursuit of outcomes, especially when brands truly put users first.

Empower Users with Smart Device Data

Mobile and other devices like cars, apparel (i.e., Google Glass, wearable The CMO’s Guide to Mobile:  How to Delight Customers image mob smartdataThe CMO’s Guide to Mobile: How to Delight Customerstechnology), game consoles, and myriad others increasingly interoperate with each other, smartphones, tablets and laptops. Depending on your users’ outcomes, collecting information from smart devices could enable you to deliver that data to users in ways that support their outcomes. For example, smart retail pricing system can offer (close to) real-time pricing abilities that enable clients (its business users) to price in-store items far more dynamically as a function of weather, competitor promotions, etc. The store or the brand could share some dynamic pricing information with shoppers (for example, “that item will go on sale tonight, so you may want to stop back after work”).

Imagine yourself in a retail location, you have an item in your cart, and you get such a message. Yes, the retailer is offering to take less of your money for that item. But if they do it consistently, your loyalty may increase, and you may be open to more interaction with them since they have shown that they care about you.

Mobile to Delight: How to Get Started

Social Business Strategy

To begin using mobile to delight in the Guide to Mobile, conduct a social business strategy to discover which mobile customers/users are active and where, what they are talking about most passionately, what they are doing, and what they are trying to accomplish (outcomes). It will also include a mobile current state and benchmark the organization’s/firm’s/brand’s (hereafter “brands”) mobile initiatives against competitors’ and substitutes’. If the brand has recently conducted a mobile benchmarking study independently, the social business strategy will reuse as much of it as possible.

The social business strategy shows the optimal ways to engage users around defined topics, workstreams and outcomes. Mobile, web, smart devices, etc. are only a means to the end. Mobile initiatives that aim to serve large audiences often fail to deliver because they try to “do mobile” because “it’s big.” Don’t engage in this technology first thinking. The strategy recommends several pilots to test and adjusts itself. Pilots naturally mature into ongoing initiatives when successful and stop when they fail. Pilots are optimal, irrespective of technology or platform.

In most cases, the strategy will include mobile pilots, which can take several forms: mobile apps, mobile data, mobile advertising, mobile commerce, and smart devices.

Mobile Data Current State Analysis

The social business strategy has revealed what outcomes are most important to high priority users. Now that you know what outcomes need to be supported, you can evaluate what kinds of mobile data you already have, how easy is it to use, and what gaps in your understanding exist so you can design pilots to address them. One of the biggest mistakes brands make is they develop mobile data initiatives that are easiest for themselves and consider users second.

You probably have access to significant mobile and other data, but if your brand has been using the data, you have probably been trying to sell more product to users. Very few brands understand the importance of supporting user outcomes. This means that you need to look at the data and how it’s structured in a new way.

Develop use cases for data. Consider data you can get from your transaction systems: mcommerce purchases, mobile related customer service, and location related warranty data. Also assess third party data like location related reviews of products/services (Amazon, Yelp, Google…) and channel partner mobile related data. Of course, don’t overlook data in Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook and others.

Mobile Pilots to Create New Customer Experience

Pilots are small self-contained, specific projects that test the social business strategy by real world interactions, and they rapidly build the competency of the brand’s social business teams. When you do pilots right, the fail rate is high; if it’s too low, the pilots are probably too conservative and missing opportunity. When your strategy and diligence is solid, more than half of the pilots usually succeed.

Mobile Application Pilots

Most brands have deployed mobile apps for iOS (Apple) and Android smartphones and tablets, but most of these apps fail to get traction because they try to entertain or promote, which is frivolous to users.

Now the team evaluates whether it could support users in their outcomes by offering a mobile app. Note, this can apply equally well in B2B or B2C. Study existing apps that address users, workstreams, and outcomes. What are the gaps in “the market” of apps that could support users? Socialize and iterate some of your app ideas in social networks. Think about the data apps would create: how would these help you to support users? Think beyond smartphones and tablets, although that’s where most mainstream business and retail/consumer users are. Your firm may have brands with machines or devices that are mobile enabled.

Mobile Data Pilots

Although brands have extensive data, few apply it to users’ lives effectively. Now you know what workstreams to support, so this is an optimization exercise because you want to maximize the impact you have on user outcomes while scoping the pilot as small as possible. Consider how difficult it is for you to get the data and work with it.

Start with users, and first determine what data would help you support them in a unique way that resonates with the firm and its brand(s). Where can you get the data? Smartphones, tablets, smart devices (cars, machines, appliances). What’s the process to obtain it and work with it? Also ask yourself what big data or analytics initiatives are underway; you might be able to collaborate or get part of the data from them. A key consideration will be designing how you will act on the data once you have it. It is likely that you can test the strategy with part of the data that you think you need.

Revamp Mobile Advertising

Brands have an exciting opportunity to reinvent mobile advertising and marketing when the follow the Guide to Mobile. Focus on workstreams that are taking place on smartphones and tablets. Design “ads” that provide granular bits of information that empower the workstream, and test them; again, these don’t aim to promote the brand or its products, although linking to forums, how-to pages, or FAQs can be very helpful to support some outcomes.

By emphasizing workstreams and outcomes, I don’t mean to imply that entertainment cannot be part of them. Too many ads use entertainment because all else has lost impact. That’s the wrong motivation. By focusing on outcomes (which sometimes include humor, playful features, games), brands are aligned with users. Use ad metrics to measure results, but also layer in metrics that measure social, trust, and relationship.

Mobile Commerce and Service

Mcommerce is well developed at many brands, but it is too often approached as a stepchild of ecommerce. Reorienting the brand to supporting user outcomes can make mcommerce and ecommerce more profitable. Create mobile pilots that test the mobile strategy and interact with users to verify your understanding of their workstreams and outcomes.

Brands often pursue concurrent pilots by launching apps, analyzing mobile and other pertinent data and tweaking their mobile advertising. Based on the results, they revamp their mcommerce approach. Think of it as the “back end” of mobile social interactions. Your learning from mobile pilots gives you the ability to tweak product/service selections, packaging, terms and other considerations to be more relevant, thereby driving revenue and profit. Don’t think of mcommerce as “another selling opportunity” when it implies not supporting users. Better is to ask, “How can we provide unique value by enabling users to buy this now/here?”

In many markets, mobile is the platform for accessing the Internet; however, users who also use computers are likely to be in the habit of buying things from the computer; in those markets, brands can increase revenue and profit by asking why users would like to buy immediately and designing clickthroughs to support that context.

Mobile service may refer to brands in telecoms, banking, entertainment, and others who think of mcommerce as a way to enable users to transact with core enterprise systems for “self-service.” They transfer money between accounts, pay bills, order tickets, etc. Also see Customer Service Is the New Marketing.

Smart Devices

Today’s Guide to Mobile recognizes machines and devices are becoming “smart” as manufacturers include technology that puts them on Wi-Fi or mobile networks. Brands can add value in three ways: 1) create mobile applications that interact with smart devices; 2) use smart device data to improve user outcomes in other ways; 3) use the learning from mobile projects as a feedback loop for product development. There are so many variables here that this outline is necessarily high-level.

Regard the social business strategy from a smart device perspective. Your team asks, “What are the market trends in ‘smartening devices’ that are very relevant to user outcomes?” Create a chart with smart device adoption trends.

Keep in mind your social business strategy has already prequalified users in terms of relevance to the brand’s business, so the next step is to look at the brand’s core competencies and expertise revealed in the social business strategy; look for connections with smart devices. Some examples are smart retail pricing systems, automobile systems, home theater systems, security systems, sporting goods equipment (skateboards now track movement). Create pilots that either use the smart device data or interact/control the smart device with a mobile device.

Guide to Mobile Insights and Resources

Digital social mobile enables a completely new relationship between brands and customers in which the product plays a supporting role to what’s always been most important to customers: the outcomes they want by using products. Mobile is a gold mine but only for brands that see it.

  • From the Guide to Mobile, using mobile as a means to “market” to customers and pitch promotions undermines the opportunity. Since the data enables brands to perceive behavior by knowing what, when, and where it occurs, brands can understand customer behavior. They have to want to understand, though. Most have not cared. Start caring because you will change the game.
  • Expect your agency partners and marketing/advertising vendors to push back on these ideas because they often don’t have the competencies to pursue them, and they want your business under the old paradigm.
  • Trust is the passport for using mobile data; brands that put their own agendas before the customers’ will lose trust and struggle with privacy backlashes when they use mobile data. For example, retailers are enduring customer backlash against their efforts to track them instore.
  • Pilots that focus on empowering users to attain their outcomes will engage more. Pilots are low risk mobile projects to test social business strategy.
  • See the MENG Online CMO Guides to Big Data, Omni-channel & Retail Transformation, Chief Digital Officers, Social Business and others.
  • Curated resource center with hundreds of links on mobile from thought leaders worldwide. Also see the Internet of Things and Ubiquitous Computing.

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