Smartphone Conversions: The Uncrossable Chasm

Monday we ran my video talking about how TV ads don’t matter anymore, largely because of changing viewing habits. Tuesday morning, I came in and saw a chart from eMarketer showing that 96 percent of Americans go online while watching TV, 79 percent from smartphones. Hallelujah! All of those viewers can respond to your TV ads! … If it worked that way, I certainly wouldn’t be making videos about how TV ads don’t matter.

Monday, we ran my video talking about how TV ads don’t matter anymore, largely because of changing viewing habits. Tuesday morning, I came in and saw this chart from eMarketer, showing that 96 percent (!) of Americans go online while they’re watching TV, 79 percent from their smartphones.

91.6% of U.S. Internet users go online through one or more devices while watching TV.Hallelujah! All of those viewers are just a web address and a swipe from converting off of your TV ads!

If it worked that way, I think all the old media would be in a lot better shape. I certainly wouldn’t be making videos about how TV advertising doesn’t matter anymore.

Smartphones Don’t Play Well With Others

The thing is, I watch TV every night with my smartphone and/or laptop by my side. In fact, I’m at home watching TV as I write this.

There have been a few days I’ve used that time to go to the website of a catalog I got in the mail, especially if I have a laptop out. (That’s your best case scenario if you send me a catalog, by the way: I go to your website on a laptop, there’s a chance I buy something, and I might sign up for your newsletter.)

I can’t remember ever doing that for a TV ad.

The problem is huge with smartphones, which have the lowest e-commerce conversion rates of any device. And by lowest, I mean conversion rates a fraction of what you see on tablets or traditional computers. According the “Monetate Ecommerce Quarterly Report for Q4 2015,” e-commerce conversion rates on traditional computers in the U.S. are 4.66 percent and tablets are 3.89 percent, but smartphone visitors convert at only 1.43 percent.

While more and more people watching TV are also tapping around on their phones, getting them to interact with you and actually buy something is almost a lost cause.

No Sign of the Invisible Bridge

That’s been the story since smartphones were invented, and it comes down to both the interface, and what people are doing while they’re on smartphones.

Tapping a web address into a phone is really difficult (and swiping isn’t even an option). That discourages people from using their phones to go to your e-commerce site from a commercial or other ad. Inputting the address, credit card and the other information needed to complete a sale is even worse.

If you want a recipe for conversion rates that are a third of other channels, that’s it. And it’s a well-recognized issue. Over the years many technologies have tried, and are still trying, to bridge that gap.

On the interface side, several startups have tried introducing tech to make it easier, from optical techniques like QR Codes and image recognition, to audio recognition like Shazam.

Overwhelmed by the Complexity of Mobile Marketing? Start Here

When talking to small business owners,  I hear a lot of reasons as to why they haven’t added mobile to their marketing mix … These excuses illustrate why it’s important to educate folks on the benefits and use cases of mobile and to demystify how it all works in order to eliminate the fear and uncertainty that prevent businesses from moving forward with mobile.

When talking to small business owners, I hear a lot of reasons as to why they haven’t added mobile to their marketing mix …

“I don’t have time to manage one more thing … ”

“I’m not sure where to start … ”

“I feel like my competition has already done that … ”

“I can’t keep up with how fast the technology is advancing … ”

“I can’t afford to use mobile for my small business … ”

These excuses illustrate why it’s important to educate folks on the benefits and use cases of mobile and to demystify how it all works in order to eliminate the fear and uncertainty that prevent businesses from moving forward with mobile.

As those businesses begin to understand that mobile is just a piece of the puzzle they become less confused and you hear more of …

“OK, well. There are so many options. So how can it work for MY business?”

Well, I can tell you that if you’re asking yourself that question, you’re already two steps ahead of most business owners.

And you know what? It’s OK to be confused. The truth is, it’s overwhelming.

Mobile websites, responsive design, SMS marketing, MMS marketing, mobile optimized email, QR Codes, location-based services, augmented reality, smarpthone apps, tablets, NFC, the mobile wallet, mobile commerce …

Holy smokes!

Warning: If you try to jump into all of these areas at once, you will most definitely fail.

If you break down your mobile strategy into smaller parts, integrating one aspect at a time, it will become less overwhelming and you’ll be in a position for a successful mobile program without disrupting the rest of your business.

Remember … mobile is just one part of your marketing strategy. Take it one step at a time:

1. Start by planning how it will play a part into your existing initiatives. Mobile is the most dependent marketing channel to-date. You can’t view it as a solo initiative.

Plan accordingly and make sure it will play nice with your other channels, meaning there is one voice and one message. Chasing the “latest shiny object” thinking it will save your business will get you nowhere fast.

2. Focus on what works and what will delivers results to your business.
You’ll most likely start with your mobile site.

The most important thing to work on is making sure your mobile website is friendly. You’ve probably heard people say that having a mobile-friendly website will give you a competitive advantage.

To some degree, this is true—if your competitors are slow to execute. But, to be honest, a mobile-friendly website is now a cost of doing business.

As a small business owner you’re foolish if you don’t have a mobile friendly site. Let’s say you own a restaurant … A recent Google study stated that 88 percent of total search volume for the keyword “restaurant” comes from mobile devices. Do you own a bar? About 97 percent of search volume for the keyword “bar” is coming from mobile devices.

In fact, “restaurants near me” receives 10,000 searches a month from desktops. Guess what? It’s four times more on mobile devices.

This is the reason that you see restaurants and bars listed in the top of search results in Google from your mobile device but not from your desktop.

Small business owners seem slow to adopt mobile. Surprisingly, a restaurant study stated that 95 percent of independent restaurants do not have a mobile website, and only about half of chain restaurants have some sort of mobile site.

This means a lot of unhappy mobile searchers and no repeat visits.

3. You see, mobile searchers have a different intent than those on a desktop. They are looking for different things. When it comes to local locations like a restaurant or bar they most often look for your location, hours, directions and how to contact you.

4. What’s the cost of not offering these folks a mobile friendly version?
That’s easy … a whole lot of sales.

The same Google study found that 94 percent of U.S.-based smartphone users look for local information on their phones and 90 percent take action as a result, such as making a purchase or contacting the business.

90 percent take action …

Read that again.

Basically, if your site is not mobile friendly when a prospective customer is looking for you, the odds of you losing a sale are close to 100 percent.

5. Speaking of being more “findable” … If you list your business in the various directories AND location-based services, such as Google Places, Foursquare, Yelp, Facebook, etc., you’ll put yourself in a better position to be found. It’s like adding your listing to the Yellow Pages.

6. OK. So you built a mobile-friendly website. Now what?

Your mobile website is what many would consider a “pull” channel. This means that it doesn’t offer you the level of outreach that other channels do, but allows you to be right there when your customer needs you.

So next time, we’re going to dive into the second aspect of your mobile strategy to put in place. It’s actually the most overlooked part of mobile, in my opinion.

Seeing as how you are going to start mobilizing your website right now, you have time to prepare for the second part of your small business mobile strategy … mobile-friendly email.

A Real Mobile Wallet (Finally!)

I heard about an interesting mobile payment technology yesterday from MobilePayUSA. The press release I saw detailed how MobilePayUSA, a mobile payment solutions provider, launched a private beta test of its solution with Tutti Frutti Frozen Yogurt in Balboa Island, Calif.

I heard about an interesting mobile payment technology yesterday from MobilePayUSA. The press release I saw detailed how MobilePayUSA, a mobile payment solutions provider, launched a private beta test of its solution with Tutti Frutti Frozen Yogurt in Balboa Island, Calif.

Big deal, right? Well, the release noted that MobilePayUSA launched its test without near-field communication (NFC) technology.

What does this mean? Basically, it means that unlike most other players in the mobile payment space, MobilePayUSA doesn’t require vendors or customers to buy new NFC technology-based hardware to use it. (NFC is next generation short-range, high-frequency wireless communication technology that enables the exchange of data between devices built with this technology. Many devices aren’t yet built with this technology, however, nor have any standards been created around it.)

Here’s how it works: MobilePayUSA’s mobile payment app connects to its cloud service, which gives users access to multiple payment options as well as discount and group cards. Users that sign up for the service enter their credit card information on MobilePayUSA’s website and download the app. Then, when they’re in a store that accepts the service, they simply open the mobile payment app and show the cashier. The cashier hits a few buttons, the transaction is processed and a receipt is emailed to the customer.

Here’s a promotional video showing an actual mobile payment transaction taking place at the Tutti Frutti Frozen Yogurt store using MobilePayUSA’s app. Pretty neat, huh?

Also unlike other e-wallets, MobilePayUSA doesn’t use RFID chips embedded in smartphones, so credit information is never stored on a phone or shared with the merchant. The company declares this difference will prove to make its solution more secure from the real threat of illegal skimmers and hackers.

I have to admit, I think this is a really great use of mobile commerce technology. It seems to make it very easy for consumers (and retailers) to finally take the mobile commerce plunge. What do you think? Please leave a comment below.

The Database Marketer Superhero: Expanded Role, Big Impact

Riddle me this, Batman: What sort of marketing strategies today require deeper, strategic database insight? Not so puzzling, is it? Pretty much everything a marketing team does today is driven by data — e.g., digital outreach, content, media, attribution, return on investment analysis, lead nurturing, PR and social community participation. In fact, the list would be shorter if we tallied up those marketing functions that don’t benefit from data-driven decisions.

Riddle me this, Batman: What sort of marketing strategies today require deeper, strategic database insight?

Not so puzzling, is it? Pretty much everything a marketing team does today is driven by data — e.g., digital outreach, content, media, attribution, return on investment analysis, lead nurturing, PR and social community participation. In fact, the list would be shorter if we tallied up those marketing functions that don’t benefit from data-driven decisions.

Database marketers were traditionally the geeks of the marketing department. They kept to themselves, ran queries to answer questions posed by other strategists, and worked hard to keep data clean and updated. Today’s database marketers are part of an emerging and essential marketing operations team that’s driving a lot of brands’ strategies. One marketer said to me recently, “Whomever knows the customers best gets to make the call.” Who knows your customers better than the people working with the data every day? All of a sudden, database marketers are superheroes — or at least have the opportunity to wear capes if they choose to accept the challenge.

There are two factors driving this trend, one being consumer habit. Given the ability and choice to interact with brands in many ways and across many channels, consumers are taking full advantage. It’s a me-centered consumption world where customer preference and whim create habits. At the same time, marketing automation technology is advancing and data integration is possible. Marketers can track and, more importantly, react to customer behavior in order to meet needs across channels.

Consider these five initiatives that have become imperatives for many chief marketing officers today:

1. Obtain a 360-degree view of the customer. One B-to-C marketer told me that there are more than 25 ways customers can interact with her brand, from a kiosk to a store counter to email to mobile commerce to branded website to call center to social communities. Most consumers participate in three or more of those channels. Communications can only be optimized if those habits and experiences are captured — and actionable — in your database.

2. Respond to customer behavior in the channel where the interaction occurred. This also has to be aligned with self-selected preferences.

3. Select the optimal channel for your next offer. A hotel owner uses past booking behavior to send last-minute alerts via SMS to those who have opted in and accessed the brand’s mobile commerce site. All others get the information via email. Response has boosted overall 8 percent.

4. Outline personas representing key customer segments. Do this in order to profile audience types and improve communication messaging and cadence.

5. Test and optimize your mix of channels for lead nurturing campaigns. For a live seminar event, one B-to-B marketer emailed reminders and offers based on interaction with previous email campaigns. Those who didn’t respond got simple reminders on date, location and keynote speakers. Those who did respond got more robust offers. Revenue from the offers increased 50 percent over the previous year and spam complaints dropped 25 percent. This is surely because those who demonstrated a willingness to engage prior to the event were nurtured with offers that made sense to their actions, and the others were left alone.

I’m sure there are infinite variations of these opportunities. Perhaps you’re testing some of them now. It will also be great to see how database marketers react to this new level of attention and interest from the C-suite. Will you embrace it and join the strategists, or will you run back to the corner and take orders?

How are you and your team embracing the need for a data-driven marketing approach? Please tell us by posting a comment below.