Opinions Targeting Wireless

Debunking the Myths of Mobile Marketing: Targeting the Right Customers

Posted by Glenn Pingul on January 31st, 2013 at 1:00 pm

As ‘mobile marketing’ continues to define itself, our brains are often in overdrive as we try to keep up with all of the latest trends.  New technologies, theories, apps, devices, experts– so much to take in, so much to consider when evaluating how to achieve mobile marketing success.

With that in mind, I’ve decided to do a series on ‘debunking the myths of mobile marketing’ over the next few months.  My goal is to go back to the basics and focus on what really matters when it comes to engaging with your mobile customers.

So without further ado, it’s time to debunk…

THE MYTH: It’s all about who you are.

Think about your current mobile campaign.

How did you determine the ‘right’ customers for your message?   Was it based on who they are?  For example, their age? Their gender? Where they live?

How much time lapsed from when you defined the target list to when you began the outreach?  A few hours?  A few days?  A few weeks?

How many times did you revisit your target list once the outreach began?  Half way through? Never?

Am I bombarding you with questions?  Yes, but I want you to understand how this myth is impacting your success at reaching the right people.

Although many third-parties tout the authenticity of their segmentation schemas, marketing campaigns are almost always based on defining ‘who’ someone is at a certain point in time.   We’re all familiar with the infamous ‘white-list’:

  • Have these customers been with us at least three months? Yes.
  • Are they in our defined income level? Yes.
  • Do they fit the ‘suburban mom’ profile of our ‘Upward Bound’ segment? Yes.

Put them on the list!

Although this approach has been effective with traditional media – mainly because we didn’t have any other options – it doesn’t fit the bill as we transition to the digital world.

THE REALITY: It’s all about what you do.

Now let’s re-evaluate how we define our targets, based on how customers behave versus who they are:

  • Have they been a customer for more than three months? Yes. But they’ve only engaged with our mobile app two times, with the last interaction occurring 78 days ago.
  • Are they in our defined income level? Yes. But their spending has dipped over the last two months and is 15% below our average customer spend.
  • Do they fit the ‘suburban mom’ profile of our ‘Upward Bound’ segment? Yes, well kind of.  She’s now splitting her time between the suburbs and the city, which is where the two previous app interactions occurred, both times in the middle of the week.

With this understanding, is she still the right target for your ‘thank you’ loyalty message to be delivered via the mobile app?   Nope.

Would she be a prime candidate for an educational message on how to use the app in the city?  Yep.

WHY IT MATTERS: We don’t live static lives.  Our needs and wants change.

The definition of mobile is ‘having freedom of movement; moveable’ – yet when it comes to mobile marketing, too often customers are pigeonholed based on ‘who’ marketers think they are.   This pigeonholing approach has several common failings:

(And no, I’m not an expert on the theory of pigeonholing but was quite amazed at how accurately this Wikipedia entry aligns to what’s going on in mobile targeting)

  1. Categories are poorly defined (often because they are subjective).
  2. Entities may be suited to more than one category. Example: rhubarb is both 'poisonous' and 'edible'.
  3. Entities may not fit into any available category. Example: asking somebody from Washington, DC which state they live in.
  4. Entities may change over time, so they no longer fit the category in which they have been placed. Example: certain species of fish may change from male to female during their life.
  5. Attempting to discretize properties that would be better viewed as a continuum. Example: attempting to sort people into 'introverted' and 'extroverted'.
  6. Criteria used to categorize entities do not accurately predict the properties ascribed to those categories. Example: relying on astrological sign as a guide to someone's personality.

If you’re investing in mobile marketing, you need to think beyond developing the best offer based on who you think somebody is.   If you can’t determine who will really appreciate it – and then act accordingly – how successful can you really be?

By understanding not only how customers behave but also how that behavior differs from the behavior they want to drive i.e., more frequent purchase, higher spend, increased app usage, viral promotion, etc. marketers gain the insight to know how to act in order to close the gaps.

Shifting from a ‘who’ to a ‘what’ approach does requires some analytics investment but with the ability to reach the audience most interested in your offer and most likely to convert, your marketing spend becomes much more effective.

Next myth to debunk - “delivering a personalized offer.”  Stay tuned!

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