San Mateo, Calif.-based Altimeter Group warned earlier this year that most companies and brands are still failing to capitalize on mobile technologies. That's unfortunate any time of year, but especially during the all important end-of-year holidays.

The industry consensus is that there's no time like the present to capitalize on the mobile opportunity. So what's the problem? We turned to some experts to find out.

The Question

What's the biggest obstacle to successful mobile marketing?

The Answers

Yaniv Makover, Co-Founder and CEO, Keywee

yaniv makover headshot

Makover leads business strategy, execution and development at Keywee, a company that leverages semantic data to drive significant ROI to content marketing. He was formerly head of SW development at Siklu Communications and the SW Engineer at Nokia Siemens Networks, and served as an algorithm developer at NISTP, a US defense department funded research lab at Ben Gurion University in Israel. Tweet to Yaniv Makover.

Mobile marketing certainly comes with its own set of obstacles. However, obstacles or not, it is a major marketing priority thanks to a surge in smartphone usage and the explosion of time spent on mobile social apps. As consumers spend more and more time on their phones — and, specifically, within social apps — marketers need to focus on mobile more than ever before.

To drive successful mobile marketing initiatives and amplify conversion, marketers must integrate content marketing and paid strategies. Simply put: Traditional ads don’t work in a mobile environment. 

Mobile consumption patterns are completely different — apps dominate the user experience. Marketers who want to capitalize on the social app shift need to think beyond ads and screen-size constraints. Marketers need to understand that app environment and support the changing mobile consumption experience.

Marketers need to consider three things:

  1. Social apps are silos where users have shorter attention spans. Calls-to-action must be much stronger — and integrated within the natural content flow — in mobile to take back ownership of an audience and regain stickiness. Marketers have less time to make an impression within a mobile app, so content must be shorter, visually compelling and quickly loaded.
  2. Not all shares are created equal. Content sharing may be a powerful way to drive content visibility at scale in the mobile app environment, but that does not mean that it furthers marketing objectives. Short bursts of traffic are not always helpful — marketers must balance the demand for “shareable” content with the need to focus on business objectives.
  3. Move out of the desktop mentality and create a mobile-first culture. Start viewing content initiatives through the eyes of mobile audiences. And remember that — just like other channels — money matters in mobile. Be prepared to invest in paid mobile initiatives that matter to your business objectives. Use the audience granularity mobile provides and target extremely specific audiences to make your mobile investment count.

Don’t rent your mobile audience from social apps. Own it.

Natalie Petouhoff, VP and Principal Analyst, Constellation Research

Natalie Petouhoff headshot

Petouhoff covers customer facing applications including mobile, IoT and customer experience. Having written many ROI models, she brings to the table a wide range of experiences and background including serving as a Forrester analyst covering social CRM and customer service, a management consultant at PWC, a PR and marketing executive and has also worked in a number of brands. Tweet to Natalie Petouhoff.

Marketers have to understand how to use mobile to be engaging and useful to their customers. So many companies build applications, but they really don’t affect the customers' life in a way that entices a customer to really want to engage.

The digitally connected 24/7 customer is even evolving the role of the brick-and-mortar stores. Not only do retailers need to think about their online presence, but they also must connect the in-person experience with the online encounter to constantly and consistently reinforce a brand’s appeal, relevancy and genuineness.

The brand’s organization has to be willing to move from the operational silos of people, process and technology and become a harmonic,omnichannel ecosystem with connected systems of intelligence fueled by clean and correct relevant customer data. Major revenue and efficiency are possible and retail leaders are creating competitive advantages by deploying innovative strategies, that are supported by innovative technology solutions.

Smartphones are a key driving factor for shaping omnichannel retail e-commerce. Inexpensive smartphones are opening new opportunities for marketing and commerce in emerging markets where many consumers previously did not have access to the Internet. 

And in mature, established markets, smartphones are quickly shifting the paradigm for consumers’ media usage and driving the need for marketers to become mobile-centric.

In fact, eMarketer estimates by 2018, over one-third of consumers worldwide, or more than 2.56 billion people, will be using smartphones. The result? One of the biggest driving forces in omnichannel are the customers who can access, evaluate, compare and buy products on their mobile devices, including phones and tablets, even while they are in brick-and-mortar stores.

The customer experience must coherently exemplify the brand’s values.

Some of the most important objectives in executing omnichannel customer experiences are the ability tod eliver on the brand promise, express the brand’s personality and bring to life the brand’s values.

Blair Symes, Director, DialogTech

Blair Symes headshot

Symes, the director of content marketing at DialogTech, is an expert on cross-channel mobile marketing attribution and optimization. Over the past 17 years, he has published numerous articles, white papers, e-books, and blog posts on a wide range of topics, including B2B marketing, marketing automation and digital marketing.Tweet to Blair Symes.

Complete, accurate attribution is the biggest obstacle to successful mobile marketing. In yesterday’s desktop-centric world, attribution was relatively simple: a prospect engaged with your search, display or other digital advertising on their desktop, visited your website and filled out an online form to either become a lead or complete a purchase.

Marketers could then tie that lead or purchase to the correct marketing source that drove it to be able to measure which ads and campaigns were most effective at driving results.

But in today’s mobile-first world, it’s much more complicated. Consumers now begin researching a purchase on their smartphones, but switch to their desktops to finalize it, or else they buy offline via a phone call or in-store visit. And because of click-to-call technology, smartphone users are also much more likely to convert on a mobile paid search or Facebook ad by calling a business — it’s just faster and more convenient than filling out a web form on their small screens.

As marketers continue to shift more of their digital ad budgets from desktop to mobile, attribution will be the biggest challenge. They need to be able to tie all the ways smartphone users convert back to the correct mobile marketing source in order to understand how to best allocate their ad spend. And marketers are recognizing this attribution challenge already; it’s why we are seeing new emerging technologies for tying store visits back to digital advertising.

Dominick Sirianni, VP, Internet Marketing Association

Dominick Sirianni headshot

Sirianni wears two hats: VP of Operations at Primavera Online High School & The American Virtual Academy during the day and VP of Education for the Internet Marketing Association (IMA) at night. As the host of the IMA Leader podcast, Sirianni interviews thought leaders on topics including social media, digital publishing and the changing landscape of modern marketing. Tweet to Dominick Sirianni.

The biggest challenge to an effective mobile marketing strategy is your mindset. Marketers need to stop assuming existing campaigns “just work” on mobile. The first smartphones could access websites, but mobile browsing didn’t take off until every site offered a mobile-optimized experience.

Adopt a mobile-first strategy. In April, comScore made it official — 60 percent of digital media time is spent on mobile. Phones and tablets have overtaken the laptops and desktops as the primary way people search, browse, download and chat. Two out of every 10 millennials only browse via mobile having totally cut the cord on larger machines.

Mobile is games, apps, podcasts, videos and messaging. It’s also phones BIA Kelsey reports inbound sales calls generated from mobile marketing is growing at 42 percent a year. Include a telephone number in your campaigns again, especially in ads targeting mobile devices. With one click a casual website viewer becomes an engaged caller talking to a salesperson.

The massive adoption of mobile devices caused a surge in the popularity of podcasts. Find podcasts focused on your industry that have small but feverish followers.MIdroll, a podcast advertising aggregator, reports that nine out of every 10 advertisers consider their podcast campaign a success.

Text messaging campaigns can deliver the right message at the right time — like coupon codes for a free morning coffee delivered during rush hour — but you have to have strong opt in processes.

At your next meeting, assume mobile is the only platform you have.