6 Mobile Lessons Learned in 2013 to Boost 2014 Strategies
Mobile strategy and commerce is entering a new era of growth, spurred on by increased consumer usage of mobile devices for searching, shopping, promotions, marketing and buying both on-device and in-store. Campaigns are becoming more interactive, mobile traffic and search is gaining on web, and social media usage has shifted to a mobile-first activity.

We saw many brands, early and late adopters alike, continue to embrace mobile in 2013. And as with all new developments some things worked, some things didn’t, and for some new technologies and tactics, their long-term viability is yet to be seen. Regardless, there are always lessons to be learned that we as marketers can apply going forward.

1. Mobile is the core of campaigns, not just a component

Mobile is no longer a single channel or one component to be ticked off a list. Instead, it is becoming the central focus; the main hub that all other campaign channels lead to or spring from. It is time to use customized calls-to-action on every channel -- broadcast, print, email, Web -- to direct shoppers to their cell phones in order to execute a quick, easy task that they know will give them something of value in return.

This is a great way to let customers opt in to receiving brand-related goodies such as promos and discounts, as well as to allow their data to be shared across channels for a more personal, individualized approach. Mobile amplifies the efforts of every other channel and makes the connections between them; no matter where customers see the call to action, through mobile they can (and will) go right to their devices and take action.

2. Consumer habits must be reinforced, not forced

Customers are increasingly fickle and demanding -- and mobile hasn't helped soothe those behaviors. If you believe the recent stories, our always connected mobile activated world has pretty much made all of us very impatient. This means that today’s consumer is not willing to deal with brands that do not understand how to provide on-the-go, real time experiences. Email inboxes are cluttered. Direct mail is expensive and not timely. Commercials are only useful when your audience is at home on the couch. Mobile, on the other hand, allows any brand to play go right to where their consumers are in real time.

If you don't have a mobile optimized experience with the right message or offer at the right time, not only will your efforts be dismissed as noise, but, potentially, as a nuisance. There is always a competitor who is doing it better.

3. Showrooming should be embraced

Yes, the fear is that consumers are going to shop in your store and then buy your product cheaper somewhere else. But before mobile technologies came along, it was impossible to gather information on you customers unless they bought something. Now businesses have the opportunity to reengage and know who is there through mobile. Using strategies such as check-ins, in-store coupons and other mobile loyalty initiatives will increase the likelihood that they will buy with you on the spot.

4. Mobile should be used to enhance broadcast campaigns

Television is poised to be one of the biggest areas when it comes to activating mobile audiences. A 30 or 60-second television spot is a direct path to one-on-one engagement with audiences. In fact, 50 percent of smartphone owners use their devices while watching TV on a daily basis, and 80 percent use it at least once a week. With numbers like that, advertisers simply cannot miss the chance to use mobile to not only engage their audiences, but fully understand the value and efficacy of media buys.

5. Real time really matters

Customers no longer have the time to hunt down deals every week, but mobile strategies can send offers to the device via SMS, calling code or email for fulfillment. This can be done in real time, right when the customer wants and needs it most.

Not only does this sweeten the deal on the immediate transaction, but it also creates customer affinity for the retailer. So retailers must let go of the idea that coupons and discounts are unprofitable, rather, due to their immediacy, the rate of redemption is much higher -- especially for exclusive in-store items -- which leads to a potential increase in average order values.

6. Do not build an app just for the sake of building an app

In cases where app ROI and revenue are not your main concern, a mobile app may be a great solution for meeting other objectives. However, for brands that are dependent on their mobile marketing initiatives to carry a heavy ROI load, deciding to build an app is a more complex process. Often, there are other types of mobile content that will get the job done with less effort and heartache.

We live in an age where there are so many ways to connect with customers via their mobile devices that knowing which way to turn, when to do it and how can feel daunting at times. But the biggest mistake you can make is to repeat a mistake previously made.

As technology improves and the barriers to viewing and delivering different types of content across the full spectrum of devices are broken down, it will be important to balance priorities and strategies that your exact audience needs to connect with you in the moment.

Title image by Peter Bernik (Shutterstock)

Editor's Note: Want more of Ashley's mobile insights? Read 4 Reasons Your Mobile Channel is Falling Behind and How to Get Back on Track