U.S. online spending hit $9 billion on Black Friday in 2020 — a new record — of which $3.6 billion (40% of the total online spend) was via smartphones (up 25.3% over 2019). Richard Kelly, CEO of consumer goods marketing technology company Adimo said the mobile to desktop traffic ratio has gone from 50:50 to 70:30. A recent Iterable study found that 63% of respondents spend more than four hours per day on their phones. A perfect storm of factors, led by pandemic-induced changes in consumer behavior and the rise of 5G technology, have propelled mobile marketing into the CX spotlight. How are marketers responding?

Mobile Marketing's Many CX Opportunities 

Mobile marketing is growing in strategic importance and value, not just because a majority of people use their phones for almost a quarter of their waking day, but also because it has such a broad spectrum of use cases for marketers, many of them directly linked to revenue generation. These include:

  1. Mobile commerce (mcommerce) and social commerce.
  2. Mobile wallets and contactless payments for onsite and offsite shopping.
  3. Driving real-time, in-store conversions with m-coupons, geo targeting and geofencing.
  4. Customer service and problem resolution — both automated and human.
  5. Interactive marketing, from AR experiences to apps and in-game engagement.
  6. Diverse smartphone enabled wearables.

What marketers like about mobile marketing is it gives people the ability to switch effortlessly between diverse channels and platforms on a single device. From external social media to brand forums, from text messages with deep links to in-app purchases, from QR codes to email — the device lets brands keep pace with customer preferences in-the-moment. For instance, Aron North, CMO of D2C wireless services company Mint Mobile said mobile really shines in how it allows a relatively quick crossover from social media to the company's D2C engine. With mobile being a critical component of their organic and paid acquisition funnel, North’s team constantly monitors their mobile web and mobile app experiences, which have been designed using features of the device to optimize engagement.

Mobile can also be a strong point of entry for the brand. Ken Harlan, founder and CEO of mobile advertising company MobileFuse, said mobile offers a great, controllable environment from where the customer's interest can expand into a desktop or in-store visit. In turn, he suggests, brands should build experiences that grant customers some desired control over their shopping journey, such as quick check-out, or specific, granular information — like a fast food restaurant letting customers view food ingredients and calories as they order.

David Greenberg, CMO of marketing automation platform Act-On flagged the importance of integrating mobile marketing within the larger master CX plan. Customer touch points across channels should offer consistent experiences, provide value and avoid message fatigue. This can be done if each tactic plays a distinct role in the CX mix. For instance, SMS text and app notifications can play a key role in creating real-time experiences such as product or service updates and alerts, while also building brand trust and credibility by communicating important information such as shipping delays or refund status.

Related Article: 9 Tips for Boosting Your Mobile Marketing Program

Investing in the Future of Mobile Marketing

Consumer habits around online shopping, social commerce, contactless payment, voice search, audio content consumption and QR codes will continue to evolve, and brands will need to find smart ways to tap into the opportunities they offer.

We will also see the impact of the phase out of cookies. Specifically, said Kelly, we will see real investments in more experiential/immersive mobile experiences that encourage first-party data sharing, in faster/more seamless integrated marketing/commerce solutions, and in mobile payments. The latter is already a way of life for ecommerce CX in APAC.

Learning Opportunities

Harlan is betting on marketers asking all the right questions around diversifying ad-spend at a device as well as platform level, given the emerging in-app spending patterns of Android and iOS users. For example, he asked, if connected TV (CTV) can transcend its current online execution and become something that drives attributable revenue across mobile streaming services, could it give the likes of Facebook Watch and YouTube a run for their money?

Last but not least, artificial intelligence could have an outsized impact on mobile marketing. From ad copy to tracking behavioral and intent data, voice-powered technology or virtual assistants, Greenberg is excited about the ways marketers will experiment with AI and ML for mobile and the impact on productivity and outcomes.

Greenberg is also tracking the growing intelligence of SMS tools and platforms, which will increasingly be able to leverage customer data and behavioral insights to personalize text interactions, much like email. Iterable senior product manager Alex Hendricks is also excited about SMS, for its (relatively) easy implementation, and possibilities for high engagement and quick ROI when leveraged efficiently. Push messages, which are purpose-built to drive action by the recipient, can also be a powerful, low-cost way for brand apps to drive immediate impact, he said.

Related Article: Fact vs. Fiction: Artificial Intelligence in Digital Marketing

Mobile, the Center of the Customer Experience Universe?

While a seamless CX is still about letting consumers jump on and off devices and channels without breaking the flow of their journey, mobile has huge potential to emerge as the central hub of the connected consumer experience (CX) since it goes everywhere with the consumer. That said, mobile usage is very personal for users, each of whom builds their own unique and dynamic ecosystem of apps, games and services. The crux of making mobile marketing work will be to find where the brand best fits and the value it adds in the consumer’s mobile world.

Hendricks also cautioned that while mobile offers incredible accessibility and ROI can be exponential, brands have to first build enough trust and credibility with their mobile experiences to unlock those opportunities. That includes finding ways to get ahead of the evolving privacy curve in the context of mobile.

In the end, like any marketing element, content, context, channel, timing and data-informed decision making will remain crucial elements for success.