The Mobile Marketing Opportunity of Behavioral Routines

An article recently posted on the Mobile Marketer web site urges marketers to think longer term about what they can and should be doing to nurture a relationship with someone who clicks on their ad from a mobile device. While I certainly agree with all of the advice (and assertions of missed opportunity) in the article, I think that this doesn’t push far enough. There’s something more that should added to marketers’ thinking about interactions with customers and prospects on their mobile devices: routine behaviors.

Some time ago, I signed up to receive Groupon daily offers and, as a result, wake up every day to find my Groupon email waiting for me in my inbox. And every day, I read the email. I’ve probably bought 2 or 3 things in the 18 months I’ve been subscribed, but that lack of conversion hasn’t stopped me from checking that email every day. The reason? It’s part of my daily routine. Wake up, make breakfast, check email—including that day’s email from Groupon. The combination of the variety of the offers, the programmed consistency of delivery, and the fact that I always have my mobile device on hand has ingrained checking that email into my morning behavior.

While it may not be the case that every marketer pursuing every type of customer should think in terms of establishing a presence in the audience’s daily routine, the increasing ubiquity of mobile devices makes it an opportunity every marketer should be considering. To aid in this consideration, below are some scenarios that would make “behavior integration” a strategy worth pursuing:

  • A highly competitive battle for mind share and audience attention
  • A need to expand the target audience’s understanding of the range of product, services, or solutions offered
  • Under-utilization of a rich collection of thought leadership resources

In any of these scenarios—or, most of all, in environments in which more than one of these scenarios are combined—a strategy to foster a behavioral routine that leverages the particular usage profile of mobile devices is worth exploring.

If Your Mobile Web Site Is Done, You’re Still Not

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.

QR Codes: Don’t Hesitate, But Do Think

No one who sends out any significant quantity of response-driven direct mail should neglect to test the use of QR codes. Period. Given the continuing growth of the use of smartphones, it’s a strategically sound opportunity to improve response rates by facilitating the connection between a mailed piece and an electronic response. Recent data from comScore MobiLens highlights the opportunity: 14 million mobile users in the US scanned a QR code on their mobile device in June 2011 alone.

That being said, the devil, as always, is in the details. Just sticking a square filled with dots on a DM piece is a waste of effort if you don’t think through what the objective of including the QR code should be and your expectations for the entire user experience that will be activated through the code. For example:

  • Are there certain segments of your audience that are more likely to respond to QR codes and how and when are they likely to scan the codes? To answer this, you’ll need to assess what percentage of these segments own smart phones. Then you’ll need to determine the likely scenarios in which they might use those phones in response to the presentation of a QR code?
  • If the code will be used as mechanism for increasing awareness of a product or service, are you sending the QR code user to a mobile friendly website? Is the information easily and comfortably accessible on a mobile device (e.g., web pages as opposed to pdfs, which are still often hard to view on mobile phones)?
  • Will you be using the code for lead generation? If so, is your lead capture form built to be completed on a mobile device?

Working through these kinds of questions should not dissuade you from using QR codes, and it’s important to remember that the process won’t guarantee that a QR code will provide significant lift to your DM efforts. But by investing the time in planning, you will ensure that your test of integrating the QR codes will be an accurate read of their current potential impact for your audience.