Mobile Takes Center Stage in the Marketing Mix

Spring always seems to bring big change. With nature it’s obvious. But reviewing the season’s digital marketing buzz, I am getting a distinct feeling that Spring 2015 may be the watershed for mobile’s emergence as the priority marketing platform from this quarter forward. If so, what could that mean for marketers? A lot. Let’s consider four areas in which integrated marketing communications (IMC) consulting might be affected by mobile’s unequivocal kingpin status in the marketing mix.

Audience Measurement – Shifting media consumption habits have been slowly wreaking havoc with advertising, marketing and PR budgets for the past decade. In barely two years, we have seen preferred metrics change from “impressions” to “estimated media values” for PR and from “likes” and Klout scores to “click-through rates” for social media and mobile advertising. Remember when Nielsen’s diary method for measuring audience types was used to spend millions in ad campaigns? No more. The folks stroking checks for their products and services want more data, less conjecture. The check writers–who should now probably be called “revenue enablers”–can get more credible data, thanks to mobile. Mobile media analytics providers–such as Google Mobile Analytics and Mixpanel–can measure the potential customer’s behavior, buying habits, search habits and geographic locations in real time. Other mobile metrics providers can even tell you if a mobile device user is walking, seated or slightly reclined when viewing content. These new mobile audience “profiling” tools mean more homework for marketers, unless they want to present a campaign without the answers to Big Data questions that likely will be asked in a future presentation. After all, information is not just power in the digital age, it’s pervasive.

Reporting – While related to measurement, reporting about an IMC campaign that rests heavily on mobile engagement can produce spotty results over the course of the campaign. As a result, IMC crafters need to practice the art of managing expectations and the routine of educating potential and current clients. Everyone generally knows that attention spans of mobile users are shorter, but it’s critical for marketers to now educate clients and potential clients that in a mobile environment any event or Twitter trend–an earthquake in Nepal or a local shooting–may skew mobile engagement by a targeted audience segment at any given time. Preparing the potential client for these blips in engagement will be key for   cross-marketing in the mobile era.

Multichannel Balance – Clearly, the transition to mobile screen dominance dictates that multichannel campaigns must be carefully crafted to build a client’s mobile contact databases and directly and regularly provide mobile content. Google’s change in ranking websites that are mobile-friendly also will create the need for a stronger campaign emphasis on search and mobile ad buys. The Mobile Marketing Association has a new study [Cross-Marketing Effectiveness] making this case and caps a roadshow about it in Dallas later this month.

Content Creation – For the mobile consumer, content must be succinct and readable in small doses. While this is the current trend of content delivery, mobile screen dominance will force content creators to find creative ways to produce even more visual elements for sharing top-line information. The trend toward short online video content is yet another case in point. Innovators in the field of content management on the mobile platform, like Aussie SaaS start-up Mobit, will be well-positioned to take advantage of the mobile platform shift in marketing.

As an observer of media and marketing, I am giddy about the realization of mobile’s dominance in the marketing mix after so many years of forecasting. But as a practitioner, I am sobered by the work that lies ahead to re-calibrate mobile-dominated IMC for maximum efficacy.

Jobs Report: Is Tech Part of Our Recovery?

Chart of Jobs Growth in US, 2008-2011
Job growth since 2008 Infographic: Visual.ly
Chart of Jobs Growth in US, 2008-2011

Job growth since 2008
Infographic: Visual.ly

This morning, my WTOP.com SMS alert told me what I used to report every month on the radio: last month’s jobless rate. It’s good news by most standards. Six percent (6.3 to be exact) of people actively seeking work is the lowest rate in 5 1/2 years. Nearly 290,000 new jobs added. All good indicators our economy is bouncing back.

But are Baby Boomers bouncing back, and if so, how? The Urban Institute’s report on joblessness among the 50+ crowd, coupled with a GAO analysis, during The Great Recession painted a pretty dismal portrait of the financial well-being of this pre- and currently retired demographic in the US.

Being a techy Boomer, myself, I am curious about how the tech sector is playing a role in helping my folks out of the most recent jobs rut.  So, this May, I am putting that question out to my network…on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, LinkedIN and traveling around the country to investigate it.

As part of my personal research, I’d like to find success stories of Boomers using technology to bounce back from a tough financial spot. If you can help with this research, send or Tweet me a link or a personal contact that I can interview anywhere in the country.

And if you’re a Boomer who wants to jump into the tech economy (check out Xconomy.com) to improve your financial position, here are five revenue-creation companies you may want to explore:

 

1. E-Bay

2. Flex Jobs

3. Postmates

4. Thrillist

5. Lyft

Subscribe to this blog, and I’ll help keep you posted on this and other digital cues in the rapidly changing world we share.

Making Gains: Mobile Advertising

The buzz around the industry for the past 15 months has been the role of mobile ads in the marketing mix. My Webcomic client, Trilogy-Media, is a great candidate for mobile ads because of the rich media product they will unveil this month. The product, The Adjusted Webcomic, will introduce a soundtrack to enhance its science-fiction online comic series. Its target market, comic book enthusiasts, are good candidates for mobile ads given the upsurge in sales of mobile devices, from the iPad to iPhones. To promote its product, visual ads in the form of MMS messaging makes the most sense. But with the financial contraints of a start-up marketing budget, the strategy we seek must take cost into account. So our execution will involve finding low-cost mobile advertising through social media platforms, like Google and Facebook. Independent Webcomic publishers that sell banner ads will extend the reach on mobile devices with access to the Internet. So there is no reason to buy separate mobile advertising for small mobile campaigns. But there is a glitch in this process: the analytics. How can you differentiate from the click-throughs whether your prospective customer came from a mobile version of the platform or from a desktop? I suspect there is no way to make that distinction without paying handsomely for it. So for small-budget clients, measuring ROI for mobile advertising is only effective with text or SMS campaigns. One alternative for measuring the effectiveness of mobile advertising with rich-media (MMS) is to run a separate mobile-only banner campaign using one social media platform. Stay tuned.

Social Media, No Small Business

National Small Business Week Logo

Cynical readers would be correct to retort under their breath “no kidding” about the widely known fact that social media is no small business. After all, this was the week Time magazine put Facebook center stage with its in-depth look at the mega social media platform’s privacy transgressions. But my focus this Tuesday was the Social Media Forum at the National Small Business Week Conference at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Southwest DC. I went because I always learn some new insight when I attend these free social media forums and webinars. Besides that, I believed that I might gain new insights that could assist with a start-up Webcomics website marketing plan that primarily uses social media to create buzz before its launch this summer. The panel and the small businesses in the audience delivered much more than expected.

Here are the social media insights for marketing small businesses I mined from the forum’s panel:

Think of social media investments to gain customer loyalty and promote transparency in terms of not just ROI, but ROTI (return on time invested.)” –Brian Moran, President, Veracle Media, and moderator for the forum

The bricks to clicks social media platform Yelp is the preferred social media platform for most retail businesses across the country. Businesses on average are spending about $3.60 per fan a year with Yelp.
-–Luther Lowe, business outreach manager for Yelp

Don’t just leave it to the interns. They may not know any more than you do. There was much discussion from the panel and audience about assuming that social media is a young professional’s province. Rather, the consensus was that social media marketing success requires a progressive learning curve from anyone who embraces it, at any age. Social media should be managed as part of a small business’ overall strategic marketing mix. This resonated, especially given anecdotal testimony from one company that adopting social media helped grow business by 30 percent.

Intuit is researching cloud analytics and integration into business ledgers. That means Intuit may soon help businesses analyze how much direct revenue comes as a result of email and other social media campaigns, according to panelist Angus Thomson, head of Intuit’s new social media division. Intuit’s entry into the business analytics side of social media portends social media’s share of the business marketing mix could be huge in short order. (Another sign: Microsoft’s big footprint, integrating social media into Outlook 2010.)

Young consumers are more tolerant of interruptions. That research tidbit from Small Business columnist Rieva Lesonsky indicates online entertainment businesses (like my client’s) may find success with intermittent ads and/or donation offers, especially among younger fans accustomed to mobile communication venues.

Outside of these social media info nuggets, small businesses made clear most are struggling to survive and keenly exploring how creatively they can use the new network of platforms that encompass social media to pull them through.

Social Media_Boom or Bust?

On King Day, I decided I needed to balance cultural reflection and community service with communication best practices for economic gain. So my schedule was rather eclectic I’d say. The morning schedule included a Webinar by Social Media Magic, while the afternoon was consumed with MLK speeches, good food and by-law revisions for The Young Masters, an youth arts advocacy non-profit I support.

I was grateful I made time for the social media Webinar. While most of us know about Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, I now know that Fastpitch!, Biznik and Plaxo offer major business and PR advantages. The social media info nuggets discerned from this 90-minute session merit sharing. Heard before, but worth repeating: social media can hurt business, if it is not focused. That means rather than hiring an intern to learn on the job, hire a nouveau expert to execute specific social media-related tasks. The hourly model apparently is dead or dying when it comes to social media, which can take the unfocused worker on a journey that saps the employer’s money without results. Other nuggets of knowledge from the Social Media Magic Webinar:

*Use Twitter as a search engine to identify prospects
*Use Fastpitch! to interest reporters on business news
*Shop around before paying for Social Media Training or certification
*LinkedIn Company Websites reap more engagement when they are engaging

What I appreciated about Social Media Magic’s Webinar was that it was focused on business needs, rather than being about the aimless community watering holes that connect old classmates or neighbors. At its best, social media can raise thousands of dollars for nameless earthquake victims in Haiti. At its worst, it can suck precious time away from the unfocused with little return.