A recent report by Nielsen Smartphone Analytics revealed that in June 2011 Android smartphone users spent twice as much time using mobile apps than they did using the mobile web. While this is only one month of data for one smartphone OS, there are important implications for marketers.
Above all, it illustrates the degree to which your company website is no longer the foremost platform for information dissemination. As more and more individuals — and businesses — adopt smartphones (and tablets) as their primary communications tool, the more mobile app use will become ingrained behavior. Coupled with the social media tsunami, this app tidal wave threatens to render obsolete the idea that your company website is the place where customers and prospects go to learn about and interact with your company. This, in turn, has significant implications for content and message development — what worked for the PC-based website environment almost certainly won’t work for an app.
Moreover, this data points to the need for strategic thought about what role a mobile website should play in the customer experience/sales process as opposed to the role played by social sites and apps. For the near term, each platform (PC-based web, mobile web, app, even email, direct mail, and phone) will continue to have its place across the customer lifecycle. But it is vital that companies begin to chart out the kinds of interactions they want users at different stages of the lifecycle to have and what, then, is the best platform for delivering those interactions.
A meeting yesterday between Vice President Biden and 13 U.S. banks has resulted in a number of these banks announcing or reiterating small business loan commitments. The banks include:
- Chase: announced that it was on track to increase small business lending this year by 20% over 2010 levels, to $12 billion
- Citi: committed to lend $24 billion to small business over the next three years ($7 billion in 2011, rising to $9 billion in 2013)
- KeyBank: committed to lend $5 billion to small businesses over the next three years
- M&T Bank: pledged to increase small business lending by $50 million over 2010 levels for each of the next three years
For banks, making such a commitment is important, as it acts as a rallying point around which resources can be concentrated. Having a specific commitment also implies that the bank’s senior management has approved the objective, another key criterion for success.
However, announcing a specific lending commitment is only a first step. For banks to achieve a small business lending objective, they need to design and implement an integrated plan that encompasses a wide range of activities, including:
- Customer and competitive intelligence
- Segmentation and targeting
- Data mining
- Product, service and offer development
- Marketing communications
- Sales channel optimitization (including structuring, incentives, training, and ongoing sales support)
In addition, these activities needs to be organized around customer needs and bank opportunities at various stages of the customer lifecycle:
- Ongoing relationship development
For more insights in developing effective small business banking operations, see our white paper on The Transformation of Small Business Banking in the Thought Leadership section of the EMI Strategic marketing website.
Suffice it to say, sales leaders in the asset management, insurance, and retirement industries are under un-relenting pressure to enhance wholesaler performance. Brands that want to win the trust of their channels and be perceived as a valuable, priority relationship, must deploy effective Intermediary Relationship Marketing (IRM). Today, many brands deploy a version of IRM, most of which neither generate trust or add value to their relationship with their important intermediary partners.
What is Effective IRM?
In the context of the asset management, retirement, and insurance industry, IRM creates leverage and scale for distribution platforms targeting intermediaries and distributors. An IRM initiative augments the productivity of internal and external wholesalers through a pragmatically developed plan of systematic and integrated marketing activities. These activities:
- Create a compelling, consistent and coherent narrative with target channels
- Generate new qualified leads
- Keep target channels engaged with your brand and products
- Pave the way for more effective wholesaler interactions.
Instead of focusing on a single campaign, or a series of disconnected interactions, effective IRM initiatives plan and deploy integrated inbound and outbound communication streams — guided by the stage of your brand’s relationship with the channel, individual level data (e.g., behavioral, self-reported, firmographic), and your brand’s narrative. These communication streams increase the probability that your products and brand are selected by your target intermediaries and distributors. IRM builds mindshare, reinforces the value of the relationship with your brand, fosters trust, and provides your wholesalers with richer and timelier intelligence. IRM must also integrate seamlessly with existing sales force automation and CRM tools.