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5 Tips for Mobile Customer Engagement

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by: Todd McCormick (@TMcCormick2011)
15 December 2015

I don't know about you, but I have a love/hate relationship with my smartphone. It lets me work from anywhere, video chat with my family when I'm traveling for business, find great restaurants and shopping deals, and read interesting content when I'm on the go. On the other hand, sometimes I think, "If that thing rings, dings or pings at me one more time, I might throw it."

I'm not going to let just any brand send me text messages or app notifications, and neither are your customers. These are "interruptive" marketing tactics, so mobile customer engagement in these areas hinges on two key criteria: letting customers drive the conversation and creating content they actually want to receive on their mobile devices.

The same is true for any digital marketing channel, but it's even more critical for mobile. If you want a direct line to your customers, use it wisely. Otherwise, they'll cut you off.

Why Mobile Customer Engagement Matters

Mobile Internet use is on the rise. Americans spend nearly five hours a day on their smartphones, but only 5 percent of that time making calls, according to Informate Mobile Intelligence. The rest is dedicated to apps, email, texting and browsing the Web.

This has transformed the way consumers interact with brands. Now marketers can reach their audiences at just the right time, in just the right place, with just the right message. Consider the following:

  • Mobile push notifications increase conversions by nearly 10 percent, along with encouraging more overall app engagement.
  • SMS messages have 90-plus percent open rates. Their engagement rates are up to eight times higher than email.
  • When consumers use mobile for retail research, 55 percent want to purchase within the hour and 83 percent want to purchase within a day.

These numbers are music to marketers' ears. But there's a catch: Unless you have the right strategy, mobile users will unsubscribe or delete your app, and you'll lose your direct line to them forever — or at least until you can convince them you have something valuable to provide.

5 Tips for a Successful Mobile Strategy

Try these five strategies to boost your mobile customer engagement:

1) Optimize, Optimize, Optimize

First things first, make sure your website and emails are mobile-friendly. Nearly half of Fortune 500 companies still haven't optimized their sites for smaller screens, which will soon hurt their search rankings on Google, says TechCrunch. Just as importantly, it's annoying for users, who have to zoom and scroll to consume content. If you want digital shoppers' attention, make it easy for them to interact with your brand online.

2) Consider the Customer Journey

Whether you're building apps or creating SMS campaigns, the most important questions to ask are, "What gaps will this help fill in a customer's journey?" and, "How will it provide them with value?" This is a chance to think both analytically and creatively. Start by determining the purpose of the app or campaign and the action you want readers to take: engage with content, share data, make a purchase, get customer service support, etc. Then find creative ways to interact with them around those goals.

Not only will this help ensure you're offering content consumers want, but it also helps you explain to your audience why they should download your app versus just using your mobile site, or why they should let you text them. If you can't make a strong case for mobile communication, they're unlikely to engage with you on that channel.

3) Let Them Choose How They Interact With Your Brand

One way to be a more influential brand and a less intrusive one is to let the customer steer the conversation. When customers sign up for SMS or push notifications, give them the opportunity to select the types of messages they want to receive and tell you which messages they prefer to receive on each channel. For example, some customers might to prefer receive coupons or sales offers via text but want to read longer-form content via email. This helps you deliver the seamless, but personalized, experience shoppers want.

4) Get More Personal

Irrelevant texts and push notifications can be even more annoying than the irrelevant emails that fill our inboxes daily. When creating text messages or push notifications, look for ways to use behavioral triggers or demographic data to help ensure customers receive more relevant content. For example, you could send SMS messages or 1:1 push notifications triggered by cart/browse abandonment, appointment or reservation reminders, package pick-up notices or previous purchase history.

5) Merge Your Marketing Channels — and Their Data

One of the best ways to personalize content across channels is to link up data from all your communication platforms in one central marketing database. This way, behaviors in one channel can influence the other. By feeding app and SMS behaviors into customer profiles, you can use them to trigger personalized content and interactions across your emails, website and call centers. Likewise, you can use data from other channels to customize the content in your mobile app or text messages.

The race is on to get up to speed with mobile customer engagement. With the holiday season upon us and the New Year soon to follow, consumers are on the go and ready to buy. So meet them where they are, wherever they are.

Want to read more about mobile customer engagement strategies? Check out our recent tip sheets, "10 Tips for Getting Started with Mobile App Push Notifications" and "7 Tips for Incorporating SMS into Your Marketing Efforts."


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