9 things we learned about mobile at MMAF 2016


Russell Graham, Digital Capability Director at Brand Learning 

The agenda for the Mobile Marketing Association Forum 2016 was action packed with an array of industry professionals and thought leaders, including Brand Learning, providing perspectives on the vital role of mobile in the customer experience. As the attention space of a goldfish apparently now surpasses ours, I’ve summarised our top take outs below. This may take a little longer than 8 seconds so please bear with:

1) Customer obsession is key

The single biggest point of agreement was the need to know your target customer better than everyone else. As we all work to build meaningful customer relationships we need to understand the customer journey and find ways to be fast, be relevant and in the moment. Hilton has obsessively mapped the likes and dislikes of their customers to the point that can now have the guest’s preferred drink ready and waiting for them on arrival in their room…which they open via their smartphone. Guests can even track their room service order moving down the corridor on a live delivery map via the app.

2) Expand your competition

I’m sure you can reel off your direct competitors. You might also be able to talk with some conviction about your experiential competitors, but what about your perceptual competitors? Customers have expectations that are being ever increased by perceptual competitors, raising the bar for customer experience. If your car is due for servicing by BMW, then soon after you have taken it to the garage they will send you a video of the mechanic walking around the car and showing you what needs to be done. If brands are shifting customer expectations, then take note…it will impact your customers’ expectations

3) Be prepared to collaborate

Things are moving at such pace that it won’t make sense to do everything in-house and partnering may be the only way to bring something to market in the moment. As Sarah Ellis explained in our panel session, businesses like Sainsbury’s are already collaborating with mobile partners, such as OLIO to battle waste via their ‘waste less, save more’ campaign. And WeChat, the ultimate mobile-first thinkers, use an array of partners to enable their 1billion users to hail taxis, access fitness trackers, book a doctor’s appointment, pay the water bill…the list goes on.

4) Start with a small bet and make sure you win

At the start of a mission to secure investment, choose something relatively small that you know will succeed and execute it brilliantly to build internal senior-level confidence. Ensure the necessary measurement is in place to support your success story. The Asda mobile app started life with a simple barcode scanner and online shopping companion but proved so successful that further add-ons such as live local petrol price tracking and recipe inspiration were invested in. It now accounts for over 90% of their mCommerce revenue.

5) How can we take things off the “thinking list”?

We are reaching a tipping point for digitisation, where even a hotel door can be unlocked via a mobile. If a door can be digital, then what else? How can technology flex to respond to customer needs and change our lives through a plethora of smaller, faster, flatter interactions that think and act on our behalf? Imagine T shirts that can assess blood pressure, connected to coffee machines that will suggest the decaf option.

6) Empowered customers need empowered marketers
Mobile experiences need to be evolved, absorbing customer sentiment, and modifying interactions based on customers’ attitudes to their experiences. The WhereNext app from Heineken does just this, giving consumers real-time recommendations of where to go based on live social media data from multiple platforms. The app constantly reviews fresh data and changes its recommendations based on people’s expressed emotions and experiences, your preferences and current location.
7) Mobile is as close as you can get to your customers

Apparently some of us would rather take a device on holiday than our partner! Most people certainly spend more time with their mobile. This helps explain the findings of research by the MMA and Coca Cola (in relation to their recent ‘Choose’ campaign), that mobile has 1.5x the impact of display. The recommendation: ensure a double digit inclusion of mobile as a percentage of your marketing mix, and be sure to build your capabilities in mobile.
8) Behaviour over messaging?
With the launch of screen less devices such as Amazon Echo, could a zero user future be close? We already need to start redefining search marketing for voice recognition but will we soon have to think about hideously complex advertising algorithms, as everything becomes connected? Maybe I’ll think about that again on Monday!

9) Integrate, don’t isolate

A joined up, integrated marketing strategy is critical. Creating mobile strategy in isolation risks missing out on a bigger connection opportunity through the customer journey. Ensuring you are customer-driven and not technology-driven may require more internal, cross functional collaboration…or even a change in culture. Either way, it’s not a choice if you want to drive growth in an increasingly mobile and connected world.

In our session on the ‘Secrets of Growth Drivers’ we discussed the 7C hallmarks of Growth Ready organisations and the attributes that position them to make the most of mobile opportunities. Click here to find out more about how our digital team are helping clients to capitalise on these opportunities or take a look at our Growth Drivers Study to learn more about the 7C hallmarks.

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