forrester research, mobile analytics, customer experience
It seems obvious that objectives, measurement and analytics are required for any marketing channel, particularly one with as many variables as mobile. But nearly 40 percent of marketers have not even defined their mobile objectives, much less developed measurements for determining effectiveness. A new report from Forrester Research attempts to lay out how analytics can be used to accomplish what you want to accomplish in mobile channels. 

Mobile is no longer an afterthought to marketing plans. The report, Make the Most of Analytics to Meet Your Mobile Objectives, points out that mobile exceeds PC traffic in such countries as India, and for many companies, especially media-related ones, mobile devices generate more than half of all visits.

Mobile Measurement in its Infancy

But marketers have largely not caught up. According to the report, many have not yet defined their metrics for success, and many lack tools for adequately measuring traffic and behaviors. Part of the reason though, is that "it's still early days for mobile measurement," according to Forrester. New mobile web and mobile app measurement guidelines have only recently been introduced, the ecosystem is fragmented but evolving, and there is an ongoing problem of tracking mobile users as they move between channels.

Obviously, the first step is to decide where the finish line is. Of the 37 percent of marketers who have not defined mobile objectives, most see mobile primarily as a way to increase engagement and improve customer satisfaction -- but without clearly defining what that means. In fact, Forrester said that 29 percent of marketers still use mobile primarily to appear innovative, although that's a fuzzy and outdated goal.

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From the Forrester report, Make the Most of Analytics to Meet Your Mobile Objectives

When asked for their top three priorities/objectives for mobile consumer strategy on phones, 55 percent cited the need to increase customer engagement, 37 percent pointed to improving customer satisfaction and 35 percent said generating direct revenue/sales completed by mobile phones. So, marketers are clearly thinking about their objectives, even if they’re not formally defining them.

Fragmentation, Lack of Standards

Fifty-one percent of marketers have identified key performance indicators, or KPIs, but they've not always lined up those KPIs with their objectives. In other words, a KPI might be a certain traffic level, even though improving customer experience is one of the objectives and the relationship between traffic and experience is not defined.

The top metrics cited in the report include traffic to mobile websites or apps for 73 percent of responding marketers, the volume of interactions on mobile phones for 50 percent and customer satisfaction with mobile services for 46 percent.

Nearly half of the marketers surveyed for the report have implemented a mobile analytics solution, but fragmentation and lack of standards is a key issue. The report found that marketers with mobile analytics tend to use traditional web analytics solutions to measure mobile activity, and, if they have mobile-specific analytics software, it's often from a different vendor then their other analytics packages.

In fact, 65 percent of respondents said that a web analytics package, such as Adobe or Webtrends, was used to track or analyze their mobile sites, and 38 percent used such a package for mobile apps. None of the other non-Web-based solutions surveyed, including analytics modules embedded into development platforms, custom applications or specialty mobile analytics applications, were used by more than 12 percent of respondents.

Steps Toward a Mobile Measurement Plan

To reach an effective mobile measurement plan, Forester recommends several steps. The first ones include accurately measuring the current mobile traffic, with separate reports for tablets and behavior analysis for the top five devices. This could have several immediate benefits, such as better targeting of native app development if traffic is concentrated among a few top smartphone models.

Other steps include defining exactly what the marketing campaign wants users to do, defining appropriate metrics to measure that behavior, looking more closely at customer lifecycle analysis, comparing lifetime value of certain kinds of customers with their acquisition costs and using more appropriate tools.

Although evolving, the report notes that these tools would best offer real-time analytics and such customer experience analysis as navigational pattern maps. And, of course, no tools have any real business value unless they are used to measure success in reaching business goals, which requires integration of mobile analysis into company-wide goals and analysis, with special emphasis on targeting and tracking customers across channels.

The report paints a picture of a mobile landscape that is just now coming into focus for marketers. With so many moving pieces -- new devices, new user platforms, few clear standards for measurement and an abundance of partial solutions from vendors -- it's a wonder there are any successful mobile campaigns. This is not one of those reports that lays out a clear prescription for future success, but it does point marketers to where success will eventually lie.

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