Survival Guide to Avoiding Mobile Marketing 'Death Traps'

6 minute read
Robert Carroll avatar

These days, you can read a lot of great articles about mobile technologies and the evolutionary shift from Web Content Management to Customer Experience Management. While we do need these great technology platforms to fulfill the promises of the mobile future, many of these stories forget one simple thing: the psychology of the mobile user.

Now, I don’t claim to be an expert in human behavioral dynamics. I can only speak on this subject based on my own mobile marketing experiences -- both the successes and the failures. And while we’re seeing a so-called “mobile explosion,” a lot of this stuff isn’t all that new.

So what’s changed? Simply said, humans have changed. For example, I now see no difference between my mobile device (SmartPhone, tablet, you name it) than one of my body appendages. It’s always with me. It’s how I engage with my environment in real time. It’s not just about my professional or personal life.It’s about everything.

As a mobile marketer, you are literally touching your audience who keep their mobile devices in their pockets or in purses hanging from their shoulders. But do you ever think that way when putting together a strategic marketing plan?

You (and your brand) are at great peril if you don’t understand the psychology of mobile. In a heartbeat, you can either delight your customers with news of a new product or a sale, or leave them feeling irritated that their privacy and personal space has been invaded with irrelevant offers..

Marketers can avoid the chance of killing off their customers or brands if they clearly understand the five Death Traps of Mobile Marketing: time, location, language, device and relevance.

Mobile Death Trap #1: Time

Mobile has created a new multi-dimensional Twilight Zone forcing us to no longer think of time in a linear fashion. Of course, time is this moment right now. But time can also be measured in day parts, life stages and days of the week. Successful mobile marketers get this concept, and serve a perfectly mixed -- and “timely” -- cocktail to the delight of their customers and prospects.

Remember: we are completely different people depending on real-time events, parts of our day and our own lifecycles as we progress from childhood to adulthood. Sometimes we are workers, parents, life insurance buyers, Sunday afternoon couch potatoes, retirees, newlyweds or lost and hungry travelers. We can have little time and need something right now. Or we can have all the time in the world for a leisurely mobile engagement. If you don’t know your customer's relationship to time, you don’t know your customer.

Mobile Death Trap #2: Location

This one is easy. Where in the physical universe is your customer right now? When a mobile marketer has a location-based service or product (restaurant, retail, traffic avoidance, etc.) and can pinpoint a customer’s location, the possibilities are endless.Just remember location doesn’t live in a vacuum.It only truly works when you fully understand all of the Mobile Death Traps.

Mobile Death Trap #3: Language

This seems like a no-brainer, but many marketers get this wrong and leave opportunities on the table.

Just look at the statistics floating out there: a customer is 80 percent more likely to buy or engage with your product if you market to them in their native language. Now, their location (Death Trap #2) may be New York City -- where nearly 800 different languages are spoken -- but they may not speak English.

Further complicating the Language Death Trap is culture, which is just as important as language. Spanish is spoken “officially” in nearly 20 countries, but a Spanish speaker in Mexico has a very different culture than a Spanish speaker in the West African nation of Equatorial Guinea. Culture influences engagement, buying patterns, pricing and all of our basic but unique sensibilities.

Mobile Death Trap #4: Device

All mobile devices are not created equal. Of course, device detection and adaptive content display are must-haves to create an optimal experience for your customers.That said, how we use and interact with devices, regardless of the quality of display, is just as important.

Learning Opportunities

When I use my iPad, the way I manipulate and navigate through a website will be much different than how I do it on my SmartPhone. Not only is my behavior different, but my expectations on the quality of the experience are as well.

To best benefit your customers, you need to understand this interaction variant.It requires interviewing your customers, holding focus groups and sometimes simple common sense. What devices is your target audience most likely to use and when? You’ll never know if you don’t ask them.

Mobile Death Trap #5: Relevance

Relevance is the hardest and most important Death Trap to avoid.It’s also the most important. That’s because it’s dependent on the confluence of all the other Mobile Death Traps.

Of course, one-to-one marketing is nothing new.But we now have the technology to truly personalize a mobile experience.Relevancy is the ability to bring multiple data sources together in real time. It allows marketers to build explicit and implicit profiles to deliver content and offers in their customers’ language that is contextually relevant at the right place, right time and on the right device.

Nothing is more disappointing than receiving content addressed to “Dear Valued Customer” -- especially when the source is a company you’ve done business with for years. The company’s brand is diminished, their message diluted and the last thing customers feel is valued. If the company doesn’t care about me, why should I care about them?

Simultaneously avoiding all of these Death Traps is no easy feat -- especially when we’re just starting to scratch the surface of Mobile Marketing possibilities. Take the time necessary to set your mobile strategy and alter your course as you learn along the way. But start now, and figure out how to deliver truly meaningful and personalized mobile experiences that drive loyalty and increase lifetime customer value. If you don’t, your competition certainly will.

Title image courtesy of Iwona Grodzka (Shutterstock).

Editor's Note: To read more about mobile marketing:


About the author

Robert Carroll

Robert Carroll is CMO of SDL’s Web Content Management Solutions division. He is responsible for crafting and executing SDL’s marketing strategy including brand, product marketing, sales enablement, press and analyst relations, events, and demand generation programs.