Fostering a CIO-CMO mobile strategy for 2014


Guest post by Len Shneyder

There's a massive disconnect between those who understand their mobile audience and those who view mobile messaging as one-size-fits-all.

The 'in-crowd,' as-it-were, understands that the mobile channel is driving other digital platforms to a kind of convergence, and are leveraging mobile devices as a cross-channel marketing hub.

Over 50 percent of email opens happen on mobile devices and social sharing generates tons of data through tweets, photos and other content uploaded via mobile devices. In fact, the average daily app downloads surged 23 percent around this past Black Friday, according to IBM.

Increasingly, both CIOs and CMOs understand the power and appeal of mobile technology, and are applying sophisticated tools and strategies--such as analytics and testing--to their mobile apps. Unfortunately, some newcomers to the channel view it as a bullhorn to send cheap push without understanding how mobile app users interact with brands, lacking the visibility to connect that usage to existing customer profiles.

CIOs and CMOs must strike partnerships in 2014 to devise solutions that bridge the divide between the mobile marketplace and other, more mature channels.

As brand stewards, CMOs are charged with extending their brands' reach through mobile's constant, real-time presence in consumers' pockets. The data harvested from mobile devices must be tested, analyzed and amplified through the careful application of action analytics.

Understanding overall app download rates, as well as the daily average rate of those downloads, is an important first step. However, this level of understanding lacks true sophistication. Applying cohort analysis to understand churn as users move through an app, and where they potentially drop off, requires the application of tools that help identify an app's strengths and weaknesses.

Sending push is more than standing up a push server. Savvy technology companies can run their own push servers and quickly begin reaching out to users who opt in to receive push notifications.

If CMOs want to approach mobile app users--mostly an anonymous data set--with the same level of sophistication that other outbound channels have, they need tools that enable them to test messages, target small, fluid user segments defined by measurable behaviors and retarget those segments based on app data.

CIOs have to install and apply the technologies CMOs need, and that's where the partnership really comes into play. The CIO must be able to quickly integrate mobile tools that can be used to analyze data and turn it into actionable insights.

Viewing baseline data from installs, page views etc. is not actionable--it's armchair marketing. Testing message content, delivery times, languages, finely segmenting and targeting audiences is truly evolved mobile messaging vs. just sending the same broadcast push to all users.

Here are some tips to help CIOs and CMOs capitalize on trends likely to gain steam during the coming year:

  • Deploy a campaign management solution for mobile messaging that delivers the ability to analyze known and anonymous user behavior, monetization and the ability to segment on more than just app data.
  • Apply careful "deep links" to push notifications that bring recipients to the right place in the app instead of assuming they'll get there on their own.
  • Use in-app messaging as part of a mobile communication strategy to substantiate push messages and communicate with users who opted out of push notifications. Opt-in for push messaging can vary wildly, from 30-70 percent by some estimates, depending on the content and type of app. Leverage all available communication channels to cast as wide a net as possible.
  • Connect registered mobile app users with existing customer data and create unique segments based on demographics and data beyond that gathered through devices. Apply global BI and analyze mobile usage data as a subset of existing BI to segment and target your mobile audience with more precision.
  • Deliver messages during local time zones instead of shooting blindly in the dark. Waking up to a message delivered at 3 a.m. lacks the same punch as one that arrives during lunch or in the evening, when a customer may actually be free and able to respond or interact with the app.
  • A/B split test all outbound push notifications to understand the difference in message tone, time, discounts and other characteristics.
  • Leverage geo-fencing but don't rely on it too much: it requires users to share their locations with you.
  • Optimize your email for display on mobile devices. Promote your app and include links to an app store.
  • Ensure mobile websites include the proper links to test for apps and prompt users to interact with the app to capture a richer dataset.

As a communication channel, mobile affords marketers a significant amount of reach and insight into how customers interact with their brands. There's a fair bit of technical work to do in order to boost the channel's ROI potential and lower churn rates (which can be as high as 80 percent given that there are over 1 million apps in Apple's App Store).

Customers have more options, more sources of data and more ways to interact with brands than ever before. The challenge in 2014 will be the careful monitoring of customer behaviors across myriad channels and making smart decisions about how to communicate with them through their mobile devices.

When you think about it, all channels lead to mobile: consumers read email on their devices, SMS and push are native mobile channels, mobile websites create seamless browsing experiences and browser-based push is a growing opportunity.

All of these messaging modalities are powered by a single device--which means tracking how customers move from one channel to another is the key to unlocking the marketing potential in the palms of customers' hands.

 Len Shneyder is marketing manager for OtherLevels, a San Francisco-based mobile messaging analytics provider. Contact him at