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Marketers mistakenly look beyond engagement in mobile

For a while now, mobile marketers have been discussing how to move beyond engagement with mobile, but they need not move so quickly when the metric alone can be effective for a brand. 

While some marketers such as Nordstrom focus on mobile for engagement, other marketers are questioning whether engagement is enough on the path to proving ROI and measuring the success of mobile campaigns. Yet one of the key benefits of mobile is that it can so effectively create a deeper level of engagement with consumers.

?Engagement and customer relationship management overall are deployed too rarely today on mobile,? said Louis Gump, CEO/president of LSN Mobile, Atlanta. ?A mobile strategy is especially critical for engaging customers whose preferred or only Internet device is a mobile phone or tablet.

?To take advantage of this opportunity and prevent losing market share to competitors who are succeeding in mobile, it is crucial that organizations implement a calculated mobile strategy which focuses on consumer engagement and generates enough revenue to drive businesses to new heights," he said.

"Some advertisers have pure transactional goals in which engagement is an added value. Moreover, many brands that think more strategically should invest a lot of time, energy and budget on awareness.?

Engagement alone
According to Mr. Gump, having engagement as the sole end goal for a mobile campaign can be valuable for many brands.

A Nordstrom executive, for example, recently said at the Mobile Shopping Fall Sunmit that the brand is content with consumers using mobile apps and sites purely for browsing and engaging. The retailer understands that it is all part of a bigger picture (see story). 

Other retailers do not yet trust the value of engagement without hard data.

"Marketers that are looking beyond mobile engagement are looking for ROI metrics that prove engagement has value,? said Bill Dinan, president of Telmetrics, Mississauga, Ontario, Canada. ?It isn?t that they aren?t focused on engagement but they are looking at the next step in the path to purchase. What do I want to engage the consumer in? What drives a sale or an actionable item that is a proxy for a sale? Marketers aren?t seeing a better ROI but they are able to better prove the ROI.

"Mobile marketers looking beyond engagement are looking at secondary actions like calls, online reservations, direction look ups, coupon downloads,? he said. ?These are all actionable items and common tangible metrics that can be proxies for purchases or conversions.

?With some 50-80 percent of mobile searches resulting in a purchase, depending on the category, mobile engagement is just one step in the lucrative mobile path-to-purchase."

Marketers should not forget about ROI, but they should think of it less narrowly.

Sometimes ROI takes a long time to surface, and engagement could be the first step in that process.

?Mobile is such a powerful tool,? said Mike Wehrs, president/CEO, Scanbuy, New York. ?It enables marketers to engage consumers on a personal level, while they are shopping, whether online or in a retailer.

?Mobile engagement is about building a trust relationship over an extended period of time between the customer and the brand or retailer,? he said. ?Mobile enables the delivery of the right message, at the right moment, to the right consumer ? helping to drive conversions. 

?There is tremendous short- and long-term value in establishing engagement and communication with mobile consumers.?

Click-through rating
Measuring mobile campaigns is still in its infancy with marketers unsure of how to exactly prove the success of a campaign.

Some look at click-through rates to show performance, but according to LSN Mobile?s Mr. Gump, this is not enough.

?Click rate, for example, is not an effective way in isolation to evaluate results in many cases ? and this is a common mistake today,? Mr. Gump said. ?Awareness, persuasion, intent and customer satisfaction metrics can all be implemented, just to name a few. As basic as it is, marketers need to remember to focus on the customer.?

Other marketers also look at other actions such as app downloads, coupon redemption or video views.

According to Monica Ho, vice president of marketing for xAd, New York, the more advanced mobile marketers are looking for stronger proof points.

?These marketers are now going past the digital measurement and are looking for things such as impact to store traffic/visitation or even actual sales lift from mobile ads,? she said.

Mobile measuring has yet to be truly perfected, but marketers are broadening the way they analyze mobile campaigns.

?It?s not that they?re looking beyond engagement, it?s that engagement has become so personalized at a user, that it doesn?t make sense to think of it in the traditional sense,? said Devanshi Garg, COO at Icreon Tech, New York. ?The same methods of CTR, conversion rates, and the like still exist, but now, it?s with the understanding that mobile ads are built as laser-focused tools to get a user to convert.?

Cross-channel measuring
One of the problems with looking to measure hardcore ROI from mobile campaigns is that you cannot look at mobile on its own. Part of the beauty of mobile is that it may drive conversion in other channels.

When a consumer sees a mobile ad for the Gap for example, he or she may go into a store and make a purchase. From the hard data, it may not look like the mobile ad drove the conversion, but it is what got the ball rolling.

Some marketers are working on developing cross-channel analytics platforms, but until they can see the bigger picture they should not jump to conclusions about the success of a mobile campaign.

?Marketers should strive to measure what they can and continue to strive for optimizing the return on their spending,? said Michael Becker, North American market development & strategic advisor at Somo, San Francisco. ?It is important to remember, however, that mobile overlaps with so many other media touch points that its overall impact can often be misunderstood.

?Developing a cross-channel measurement, attribution, strategy is as important as measuring the engagement within specific channel,? he said. ?It is important to look at the holistic impact mobile is having as well as the tactical one-to-one relationship at a creative level.

?While marketers strive for clarity and to quantify everything, which we should strive for, we often put great ahead of good and don?t actually accomplish what we?ve set out to do. While marketing is increasingly being driven by data science, we have to remember it is still a social science.?

Final Take
Rebecca Borison is editorial assistant on Mobile Marketer, New York