Mobile foundation vital for B2C marketing success

Stop becoming distracted by B2C mobile innovations and build a mobile-first foundation first. Forrester offered this advice in its recent “2017 Mobile And Technology Priorities For Marketers” report that examined current mobile-first strategies.

The report noted that marketers are on the right track for thinking mobile-first. However, launching mobile apps and responsive mobile websites is not enough. Embracing new technologies like Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) and bots requires a sound mobile foundation. It is where the report find marketers are overlooking.

“To be more specific, I think the key point is to lay the right mobile foundations to make the most of emerging new technologies…Today, many of these new technologies are emerging, and it would be a mistake to jump too quickly on shiny new objects instead of fixing the mobile basics,” Thomas Husson, Forrester’s vice president and principal analyst serving B2C marketing professionals said to CMO Innovation.

Low mobile maturity

The report noted that many marketers were “still stuck in the earliest mobile maturity stages and lack the cross-channel, cross-device execution required in today’s complex digital landscape.”

Also, the focus on new emerging technologies creates an unrealistic picture of what customers want. For example, the report noted that 28 percent of B2C marketing decision makers were planning on virtual assistants, while two-thirds of US online adults say they do not use them.

Husson pointed out that it was important to build the right mobile foundation first. A lot of new technologies and innovations are mostly mobile-focused and require a robust environment.

Rethink mobile proposition

The first step to building the right foundation is to stop looking at mobile devices as mere advertising tools. Instead, they can help to reinforce the brand promise and expand customer experiences. For example, the report cited Starbucks and Disney as brands that created new ways to engage and measure their marketing initiatives using mobile.

Forrester also noted that mobile devices would eventually become gateways into IoT and vital customer touchpoints. So, CMOs should retain their control over their mobile vision to maximize new opportunities that these offer, like L’Oreal’s initiative on smart hairbrushes. 

Also, outsourcing the mobile marketing efforts to an agency can impair innovation. According to the report, agencies’ pay-for-performance incentives focused on short-term gains over long-term investments. It makes it difficult to experiment with new marketing strategies.

Internal partnerships matter

To ensure a sound mobile foundation, it is important for CMOs to work closely with their CIO counterparts.

“The CMO-CIO partnership is critical to scale innovation and to transform the entire company. It is easy to run a VR experiment or to have a bot POC; what's tricky is to scale such innovation and deliver contextual experiences to millions of customers,” Husson said.

A great CMO-CIO partnership can help to broaden marketing possibilities. Husson noted, for example, that such partnerships saw brands like Marks & Spencer or Zara leverage RFID to be to inform customers in real-time about product availability.

Consider startups

One way CMOs can ramp up their expertise and build the right foundation is by working with startups.

“CMOs at large companies can indeed benefit from the agility and creativity of start-ups. By working with start-ups, they can certainly move faster and test some hypotheses,” Husson said.

However, CMOs need to find the right balance when working with startups. While they can accelerate innovation, firms must do their due diligence.  

“When it comes to scaling solutions, they must make sure they select a robust enough vendor that can support them in the longer run. When it comes to investing in some start-ups, the challenge is to make sure the broader organization does not kill the cultural start-up spirit but on the contrary enables the start-up to grow faster and enter new markets leveraging the internal support of the brand,” Husson said.

China mobile blues

One country that is already ahead of the curve mobility is China. Building the right mobile foundation for marketing initiatives is more urgent for B2C CMOs in China.

"Baidu, Alibaba, and Tencent are moving fast on new emerging technologies and Chinese marketers need to partner early to figure out the next steps: how will AI, bots, and extended reality change the game. What does it mean in terms of designing screen-less experiences?” Husson said.  

The country also offers lessons for the larger global B2C community. “Marketers in the US or Europe have a lot to learn from China, be it on how to borrow mobile moments on platforms like WeChat or use mobile wallet marketing on Alipay. They should stop focusing too much on the latest Silicon Valley start-up,” he added.

Remain realistic

When building the right mobile foundation, CMOs should stop thinking that all emerging technologies matter. Instead, Forrester’s advice is to scrutinize.

For example, Forrester cautioned marketers from jumping on the intelligent agents bandwagon, although Alexa, Cortana, Google Now and Siri got a lot of press recently.

The report noted that adoption of such technologies is still not high enough to warrant an immediate investment. For example, there are only 8 million Echo devices in the US compared 332 million smartphones as of 2016.

A realistic approach will ensure that CMOs remain on the marketing innovation that matter to their brand.

Further reading:

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