29/03/11

By Sonja Keerl, product marketing manager at SDL Web Content Management Solutions

With the rapid adoption of mobile technology and device usage becoming more sophisticated each month, mobile is THE key channel for marketers to embrace in 2011. Mobile is not only here to stay, forecasts indicate that by 2014, more visitors will use the mobile internet than classic desktop PC internet. So the question is — are you ready to make the most out of mobile channels this year, or will you look back on 2011 and just wonder what happened?

Here are some top tips on how you can achieve marketing success in the mobile world:

Look before you leap

This might sound pretty obvious, but a third of all organizations still name “appear innovative” as a top three reason to launch mobile initiatives.1 Let there be no mistake, your main driver must be to serve a need of your mobile audience. Otherwise, you might create a mobile presence, but have no mobile purpose.

Don’t assume, because you have studied generic research on mobile usage, that it will match the behaviour of your target audience. For instance, in Western Europe an average of only 12% of online visitors are using the mobile channels on a very sophisticated level, but in the United Kingdom this group is already up to 22%. If your target group is amongst the 25-34 year old British, then you will find a dazzling 43% of them to be always online with their mobiles.

So, before starting to implement mobile solutions, sit back and think about what your mobile audience really expects from you and assess their current level of mobile technology adoption.

Mobile Website vs. App

A common question asked by companies is whether to go mobile web or mobile app. The two should not be in conflict, but complement each other. It just depends on what goal you want to achieve and what purpose you want to serve. Don’t let design aspects lead your choice at this stage — modern mobile websites can feel just as cool as apps.

As a rule of thumb, if you want to reach the general mobile audience, you should start with mobile web. Make sure your mobile website concentrates on serving the purpose of a mobile audience and offers easy access to all that is relevant to visitors on the go.

If you have a customer base with very specific needs, you might decide to go for a mobile app. Typical examples are mobile online banking or airline apps for booking and check-in of flights.

We are also increasingly seeing hybrid apps, where you have an app in the app stores, but it is really just a layer on top of your mobile website. The app handles some typical features, like navigation, but the actual content and functionality is on the mobile website. This is a good compromise if you want to reach that global audience but also want to have a presence in the app stores.

Whatever system you employ, it must feed content to both mobile apps and mobile web to ensure that multimedia assets and customer information can be reused in all channels. Content reuse ensures that customers are not faced with a disconnected mobile experience.

Mobile is not just the iPhone

There is a common assumption that mobile web visitors are only using a few dominant devices, such as the iPhone, Blackberry or Android phones. This is not true - just for the UK, according to mobile metrics of SDL partner Netbiscuits, an average of 1.800 different types of devices access Netbiscuits-based mobile websites each month! And the top four devices only account for 28% of the mobile site requests — leaving a big Long Tail of 72% of traffic scattered over other devices.

If an organization is acting globally, these metrics are dramatically different for other markets. In total, there are approximately 30,000 different, active combinations of devices, mobile operating systems and mobile browsers — making the delivery of the best possible mobile experience, for each individual visitor, a daunting task. This mobile diversity means that IT departments could face meltdown by having to keep up with the ever-changing landscape of mobile devices, operating system and browsers.

So, it is crucial to have a solution in place which automatically optimizes mobile sites for all devices - using a single template that defines the structure of a mobile website. The best solution should ensure that whenever a new device or OS update enters the mobile market, the optimization rules are already known upfront. This means that mobile marketers will never leave their mobile customers with frustrating mobile websites.

It is difficult enough for content managers to optimize content for mobile experiences — they should not have to worry about the technicalities of device optimization. What is important is that they can preview the result of the optimization easily within their content management system, so they always know what’s going on.

Shift from multi-channel marketing to cross-channel engagement

Mobile Engagement is much more than just serving information via the mobile channel. The art of Digital Engagement is to look at what the customer is trying to achieve then support them, via all channels, — enabling them to reach their goal. So instead of trying to cram as much information into as many channels as possible, marketers must ensure that their key channels serve information relevant to each customer.

Mixing these channels, so that they support each other, is crucial. For example, mobile users may look up something on the mobile web but will not engage in detailed research. So, to keep their attention, mobile websites should always have a “read up later” option that sends an email with the link to the visited page. Capturing the visitor’s email address through a form then enables the marketing team to introduce further touch points, both now, and in the future.

Marketers need a solution that gives their digital teams the freedom to manage their own realm, independent of each other, but also to ensure that different channels can reuse common assets. Such a system must also ensure the consistency of brand identity and message in all channels, and if the reach is global — enable the reuse and consistency of translations.

Enabling advanced customer engagement also means that a system should gather visitor intelligence from all digital channels and make this intelligence actionable. So, whatever marketers learn in any channel about a customer, they can reuse in all channels to target and personalize the touch point — delivering a more relevant customer experience.
Putting the customer first is the key to successful cross-channel engagement. An ‘engaged’ customer will have a better brand experience, will be more satisfied and more likely to convert.

Case study — mobile content in practice

The Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group uses SDL Tridion to manage their digital channels. Mandarin Oriental’s content owners enter content once, and easily re-use it on the feature-rich mobile sites as well as their 26 multilingual websites , significantly reducing operational costs and speeding content changes.

“We saw an opportunity to cost-effectively deliver an effortless mobile browsing experience, while at the same time ensuring the level of elegance and specialized service that Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group’s guests have come to expect. The number of bookings we received through the mobile site surpassed our expectations. The investment we made was returned within two months,”explained Christoph Oberli, VP eCommerce & Interactive at Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group.