Someone holding a smart phone up to a computer screen taking a picture of a page with Facebook apps.
Marketers must embrace which mobile apps users mostly engage. PHOTO: Sam Michel

Marketers can improve their customers' mobile experiences by ensuring those experiences are connected to the rest of their engagement systems.

Michael Trapani, product marketing leader at IBM Watson Marketing, shared that tip during the CMSWire-IBM webinar, "The Very Strange Future of Mobile: Prepare for the Effects of New Technologies on Mobile Interaction."

No Need for Mobile Drama

Exciting, new technologies for mobile debut regularly. Mobile experiences in virtual and augmented reality are now, well, realities, Trapani said.

"As we’re building marketing experiences we need to start to think about how to build in those realms," Trapani said of virtual and augmented reality experiences. Leaders in mobile experiences will be those that embrace virtual and augmented realities to get a "leg up," he said.

"It's a fascinating space," Trapani said, "and mobile plays a big part."

Embracing new tech is good. However, Trapani said, many marketers still struggle with the fundamentals. 

The first step? Instead of doing anything dramatic, start by making sure you connect the mobile experience and analytics to all other applications in the enterprise.

Focus on the entire customer journey rather than on just individual campaigns, he continued. 

Make sure the mobile experience is "connected to the rest of your engagement systems to get a better sense of how the customer journey forms," Trapani said.

AI's Role in Engagement

Artificial Intelligence (AI) naturally helps connected mobile experiences, Trapani said. 

Watson Marketing, for instance, can monitor email campaigns as they're "out in the wild" and predict which campaigns won't hit their targets (such as a 20 percent clickthrough rate, for instance). The cognitive functions can then provide recommendations on changes marketers should make to emails to help improve their chances of hitting their clickthrough targets.

The cognitive engines can also determine customers who may churn in other databases and recommend changes for their experiences, too.

AI in marketing is about making sense of data and personalizing experiences in real time, Trapani added. Marketing is a human experience, though, and there will always be the need for human creativity and input.

But, he said, AI helps with the mundane tasks, helping create better experiences, so that marketers can spend more time on strategy and creativity.

AI Explosion 

In the next three to four years, Trapani predicted, every piece of software we touch will most likely have some form of cognitive function.

"It will be," Trapani said, "as ubiquitous software itself. Most of the software you interact with today already has some machine learning or cognitive function." 

Machine learning capabilities are built into operating systems today on mobile, and not just in personal assistants like Siri, Trapani said.

"It's really the stuff happening behind the scenes," he said. "It's understanding your experience differently from someone else's mobile device."

App Behavioral Data

IBM Watson Marketing

To help understand tricks to improve mobile experiences, Trapani harkened back to mobile's journey.

Remember the Nokia 1110 phone? One-inch display. Up to 50 contacts stored. It was amazing back then, right?

The most popular mobile phone today? iPhone. "That's quite a shift from one to the next in a single decade," Trapani said.

The Apple iPhone launched in 2007. In 2008, the apps came, and so did Google's Android.

Now we've got 3 million apps available on the Google Play store.

Marketers should understand that with the vast amount of apps, 80 percent of app usage across all operating systems is spent within a user's top three apps — messaging apps, social media apps and browsers.

This makes it even more challenging for marketers to break through the mobile noise where users mostly want to send and receive messages, browse Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram and search the web.