Mobile has been growing at a rapid clip for a while, but in 2015 its growth reached a tipping point: mobile spend is growing at three times the rate of desktop display, 65% of emails are opened on mobile devices, and mobile accounted for 100% of Facebook's revenue growth.
Today, mobile is the throughline for communication between consumers and businesses—whether through mobile search, social media, email, or phone calls.
Considering this mobile opportunity, it's an exciting time to be a digital marketer.
Mobile marketing has come a long way, but there's still progress to be made in technology, analytics, and strategy. Most notably, it's time for a paradigm shift: to think of mobile as the home for omnichannel marketing.
Here are my predictions for how that will take shape, and how winning marketers will seize the mobile opportunity in 2016.
1. Forget about multichannel marketing
We've all heard about "multichannel marketing," but it falls short in an increasingly mobile world. Multichannel marketers—those who create discrete, transactional experiences for the Web, email, search, and so forth—will get trampled by those who take an omnichannel approach, which involves looking through the eyes of the customer and creating a seamless and consistent customer experience across all channels.
Mobile users don't want to be bombarded by branded content everywhere they look; they expect personalized experiences that take into account who they are and what they're trying to achieve. Effective marketers will therefore transcend the multichannel model and will instead orchestrate interactions across every online and offline touchpoint, all of which build on and are influenced by one another.
2. Put conversations at the center of your omnichannel strategy
If your 2016 strategy doesn't include phone conversations, there's no way you're truly taking an omnichannel approach. In a recent consumer survey, we found that people across all age groups prefer phone calls for their most important conversations—both in their personal lives and with businesses. BIA/Kelsey predicts that annual calls to businesses via mobile phones will reach 162 billion in 2019.
Being an omnichannel marketer means orchestrating an integrated, consistent customer experience. Most marketers are focused on driving mobile traffic and online form-fills, but they're overlooking phone calls as part of the customer journey. People who call your business are typically valuable prospects you don't want to ignore, and those conversations can tell you a great deal about your paid search performance.
Track conversions via inbound calls, capture data related to those conversations, and streamline the steps a customer takes to call you.
3. Make mobile data science your priority
In 2016, the CMO role will expand beyond that of data-driven marketer to that of data scientist—particularly in the case of mobile. Mobile marketing spend reached critical mass in 2015, accounting for more than half of digital ad budgets. Now that mobile is no longer a sandbox for experimentation, it's crucial that you use data to optimize your mobile spending and improve the customer experience across all channels.
Analyze why people are doing what they're doing on mobile: What information are they seeking? What campaigns or channels drove them to click through to your homepage or call you? What does their demographic data tell you? What happened after they clicked or called, and which keywords drove the most valuable conversions?
Integrate that data with marketing and sales systems so you get a complete picture of your customer's journey and the ROI of your marketing spend.
4. Think about mobile search in context
Last year, in search volume mobile overtook desktop; this year, mobile search will evolve to more efficiently surface information. Google, for instance, is introducing mobile search features like the ability to search app-only content and "stream" content from apps without having to download anything.
In the near future, mobile search will predict how the user wants to engage with content based on their context. Stay ahead of this trend by making it easy for mobile users to contact you.
People who are searching on mobile are generally looking for quick answers or a direct line to your business. Nearly half of mobile searchers say if a business does not have a phone number associated with its search results they likely explore other brands, according to Google.
Prominently display your phone number in search results and use click-to-call buttons that open up to an auto-dialer.
5. To reach a global market, you need a mobile strategy
The mobile opportunity across the globe is staggering: 84% of people in developing countries own a cell phone (not far from the 90% in the US). In those parts of the world, a phone often serves as a person's only computer and Internet-connected device.
Accordingly, marketers will have to entirely revamp their marketing strategies to meet the needs of a population that's not just mobile-first, but mobile-only.
Analyze data across online and offline activities to understand consumers' actual mobile behavior, including how they discover content and prefer to engage with your business. Capture their attention by connecting with them where they already are. That might involve investing in pre-roll video ads, partnering with mobile finance services, creating sponsored content on social media, or optimizing for inbound phone calls.
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Marketing in this new world doesn't end with creating a campaign and executing it across two or three channels; it extends to creating a dynamic, integrated customer experience from beginning to end. Today, that means reaching people on mobile as they jump between searching, swiping, snapping and calling.
2016 is the year to seize the mobile opportunity: Think about mobile not as a single spoke of your strategy but as a hub for connecting customer conversations across every single channel.
Interested in learning about consumers' relationships with their mobile devices—how, when, and why people are using their phones and what that means for you as a marketer? Download your copy of The State of Mobile Experience today.