Mobile marketing today is like the Wild Wild West. There are no laws, few rules, and a drought of best practices. But as mobile becomes the platform of choice for millions of people worldwide, marketers have to develop a grasp on what works and why. Otherwise they’ll miss out on a truly massive opportunity.
So, how does a brand create an ecosystem of messages that are thoughtful, interesting to their mobile user base, and that ultimately grows revenue? My co-founder, Jacob, and I decided that question was big enough and important enough that we spent six months interviewing some of the best growth marketers in the world, folks like Chamath Palihapitiya, founder of the Facebook Growth Team, Tim Kendall, Head of Product Management at Pinterest and Lee Linden, Head of Commerce at Facebook, to get their take.
At the end of our deep-dive, we identified five characteristics stellar mobile campaigns have in common.
1. Automation is a must.
According to the marketers we talked with, automation was seen as an integral tool for preserving sanity. It saves valuable time so that you can focus on what matters in delivering engaging campaigns, fostering creativity and problem-solving across teams. Mobile marketing strategies thrive on cohesive, regular messaging. One CMO referred to automated messages as “rhythmic” – they follow a pattern that should enhance the user experience.
Sporadic, one-off communications (the norm today), negate this opportunity. Instead, marketers should incorporate automatic touch points with users throughout the lifecycle. It’s not worth it to take months to create (or code!) hundreds of one-off campaigns when automation allows you to focus on what matters – messaging and timing that adds value to the user experience.
2. Message content should be personalized for each user.
Based on the responses of marketers that we talked with, we learned that the majority of messages sent via mobile are generic due to marketers’ fears of mis-personalization. As a result, messages are sent based on popular topics or alerts but without any true relation to each user’s preferred content. The result? Low engagement rates and even lower conversion rates. The lesson here is not to guess what a user wants to hear. The technology now exists to get feedback from users, learn from it and immediately adjust to make the most out of every contact with users.
3. As the user evolves, the message content should too.
A successful marketing campaign should have a real-time component. Most important? The ability to adjust message content based on a user’s most recent behavior or engagement with your brand. Dynamic is a term we hear a lot in the industry, and it is often misused. When I say dynamic, I mean the official definition: “characterized by constant change, activity or progress.” One of the most powerful examples for retail is “Last Brand / Category Interacted With” which identifies the most recent affinity of each customer so that new messages can build upon demonstrated interests. When this happens seamlessly, customers see serendipity in a campaign.
4. Messages must arrive at the right time for each user.
Just because you can access mobile users immediately and at all times, doesn’t mean you should. There’s no golden time zone. 8 AM standard is Dave’s yoga class, 9 AM is Leah’s standing office meeting and 7 PM could be when Raheem is putting his son to bed. Mobile marketing is risky when done wrong – a push notification sent at a bad time is one of the best ways to ruin the user experience and potentially lose a user forever.
If your marketing goal is engagement or revenue, you need users to actually want to receive your message. Ensure that each message arrives at the best time for each user – not at the time when the marketer presses or schedules “send.”
5. Making changes should be easy, even after the campaign starts.
Finding the perfect marketing message requires iteration. It’s a fact. The most effective marketers get fast feedback and iterate quickly, using campaign reporting to inform their strategy and refining based on user response.
It is critical that marketing campaigns have a built-in way for marketers to understand what’s working and iterate based on these insights. Equally important is the ability to make changes with dependence on engineering effort. Switching out copy and trying new personalization points and filter criteria is what takes mobile marketing from good to great.. Starting from scratch every time is as ineffective as it is inefficient.
While this is not an exhaustive list of everything you need to ensure success, I hope it helps point you in the right direction, making your job easier, your customers’ lives more interesting, and your businesses returns climb.