Mobile communication continues to dominate the global landscape as an area that has the ability to set new trends and transform how organisations engage with their customers. As such, it is evolving from generic messaging to a highly sophisticated service aimed to benefit both the company and consumer. To fully understand the driving factors behind these changes we need to look at the market forces at play in parallel to the emergence of new technologies.
A recent publication from Global industry Analyst Inc (GIA), suggests that the global telecom services industry will reach a massive $1.8 trillion in three years. This encompasses a broad spectrum of telecoms ranging from Internet services, wireless communications, cable TV systems, satellite communications and fibre optic networks. However, when it comes to mobile marketing it is wireless communication and its subsets, such as enterprise mobility, mobile driven CRM, loyalty and location based services that we will review.
The global output of smartphone and tablet devices largely explains the projected forecast of $1.8 trillion. As these devices start to eclipse shipments of PCs with a global estimate of 487 million smartphones versus 415 million PCs shipped in 2011, it is driving a burgeoning demand for mobile and data services. Another accelerant for this growth will be delivered through the rollout and adoption of 4G wireless connectivity, allowing consumers to access more sophisticated content and data services significantly faster than ever before. 4G, more importantly, offers the mobile operators a lifeline to build up their data services portfolio that could help counter the effect of shrinking revenues from traditional voice and messaging channels. The emergence of OTT (over-the-top) services such as Facebook and WhatsApp, has cannibalised those channels so significantly that operators are now actively seeking to work with independent data and value-added service providers.
The purpose of this new dynamic is to create and launch innovative services in a much more agile way so that they can match the pace of innovation from brands such as Facebook. Operators run the risk of losing customers if they cannot keep up with consumer demands, therefore by utilising new and potentially disruptive services available in mobile they are able to increase the chance that a subscriber will gravitate back to them for all communication and data needs.
Not coincidentally, we are beginning to see a shift in the allocation of larger marketing and product development budgets towards mobile spend within enterprise organisations and brands. Although still at a relatively early stage for most organisations, mobile offers a new way to engage with the audience and, more importantly, creates a new media channel. Mobile is effectively facilitating a change in the way goods and services are sold from physical retail outlets to mobile devices that are available anywhere and anytime.
The core benefits of this for an organisation are two-fold. Firstly, it boosts the bottom line by removing any limitations with regards to when and where items can be bought. Secondly, it enhances the brand’s position by enabling them to take advantage of this growing media channel. The natural next step is that we expect to see more sophisticated advertising and loyalty programmes across mobiles that are intelligently mapped against customer profile, behaviour and more importantly, location. For example, we can build a true 360 view of consumers by combining insight on past behaviour with real time insight such as what they are doing in their every day lives, how they move around their environment, where they go and how they are interested in interacting with brands. This is giving rise to new practices in marketing such as mobile re-targeting that uses insight through tracking to target advertising messages at a granular user level.
It is not only marketing budgets where a change will occur. Organisations are now beginning to reap the benefits of introducing mobile into operational and service layers, where results can generate improved workforce management and drive real utility for consumers via their mobile devices. As these benefits continue to positively impact performance metrics by reducing costs, increasing operational efficiency and engaging customers better, organisations would be short sighted not to include a mobile strategy as part of a wider digital one.
Interaction, insight, engagement
For consumers, using mobile as a self-service channel for interacting with brands and enterprises is becoming a key product differentiator when influencing their decisions in purchasing and consumption. The consumer psyche has evolved from a state of mind where the perception of mobile is that it is a prerequisite, not a superfluous touch point. As a result, organisations reacted to this shift in demand by building out a mobile proposition with a hurried go-to-market approach that in many cases led to a poorly crafted strategy and with no real value. However, these organisations are now becoming more engaged with mobile technology specialists and service providers to re-evaluate and better understand the spectrum of mobile technology and how to effectively exploit it in a digital strategy.
Finally, and perhaps the most interesting trend, is the sheer growth of data capture, with an estimated two and a half quintillion bytes of data being created daily – 90 percent of which has been created in the last two years alone. Organisations continue to harvest data on just about every aspect of their audiences ranging from demographic profile to behaviour and location. The explicit purpose of this activity is to help foster better decision-making in how organisations can engage customers, as well as building insight about them. In a retail scenario a typical user case could involve brands wanting to better understand how and why its customers interact, think and behave around their brand – all leading to enhanced targeting of products and services. The phrase coined for this method of manipulating customer data into something more meaningful is known as a true 360 degree view, and it will be those brands which can most effectively implement this that will be first to succeed in driving sales, enriching the customer experience and nurturing customer loyalty – all key objectives of any business. This explains the rapid pace at which brands and enterprises have begun to craft a ‘mobile-CRM’ strategy. The fact is mobile offers a unique and incredibly powerful medium to captivate consumers and help them along their journey.