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Adding mobile to multichannel commerce big driver for ebusiness success in 2011

Consumers are demanding content-driven, multichannel commerce that includes mobile access, according to a survey of business-to-consumer and business-to-business organizations by Endeca Technologies Inc.

The survey of 430 B2C and 160 B2B professionals revealed business results for 2010 as well areas of focus for 2011. Today’s consumers demand user-centric, anytime/anywhere information, and expect their experience on a mobile device, online or in-store be interchangeable – and on their terms, per Endeca.

“Mobile ads will account for $5 billion in sales in 2011—and there is a reason for that,” said Katrina Gosek, media and publishing market lead for the ebusiness team at Endeca, Cambridge, MA. “Mobile is the long-awaited link to total customer insight, and the vehicle for marketing to them in hyper-personalized ways.

“When consuming traditional static content, readers tend to be fairly focused on the task at hand,” she said. “The mobile experience is different – and it opens new opportunities to monetize content and generate revenue.

“Mobile users are generally more time-constrained, goal-oriented, and ready to click away if not instantly engaged—therein lies the challenge: capturing and holding the user’s attention, presenting just the right content in the context of who they are, what they like, and where they are.”

Endeca’s clients include Boeing, Cox Newspapers, the United States Department of Justice, Ford Motor Co., Hyatt, IBM, the Library of Congress, Texas Instruments and

Mix it up
With the onslaught of mobile programs and unprecedented investment from retailers, publishers and manufacturers, brands must differentiate their mobile marketing programs and ad placements by knowing their consumers and how they use mobile.

Keeping mobile marketing programs fresh is critical, and how marketers place content is key.
Marketers should experiment with different programs and concentrate on those that prove to be highest-value.

“Push location-based promotions via SMS based on individual search history, experiment with video, use their current location to influence what medium should be used, and – if your budget permits – increase engagement with rich interactive ads in apps,” Ms. Gosek said. “The minute they log in, consumers expect mobile content to be automatically tailored to who they are and where they are.

“To deliver this experience and make it effective, content providers should not just seek to deliver a cookie-cutter experience,” she said. “Take time to learn what your users mobile content habits are – how they access your content online, what your brand is known for, and what users expect.

“How can you make this a compelling and convenient experience for them – and different from your competitors?”

Make mobile ads relevant
One of the great advantages of mobile devices is the ability to know where users are when they are connected.

Users have not only know grown comfortable with location-based services, but now expect hyper-personalized content as part of the mobile experience – prioritizing convenience over privacy, per Endeca.

Ms. Gosek said that monetizing online content with ads is nothing new, but mobile allows these ads to be incredibly effective.

Marketers should ensure that they are taking advantage of the transparency of the mobile channel by providing targeted, in-context ads based on the user’s physical location, search/browse history, social media usage and personal preferences.

Boost your brand with paid apps
More organizations are offering paid applications to offer this premium experience.

Having a free application is a great way to open relationships, but premium apps offers an opportunity to manage the dialogue with a brand’s most valuable customers in its base while being a source of added revenue, per Ms. Gosek.

Sports Illustrated recently released two versions of its iPad application—paid and free—and found that many readers upgraded to the premium version after initially accessing the free content.

The growing readership of the paid Wall Street Journal application is another example of how users are willing to upgrade to paid services if they see exclusive content or special features.

Delivering content-driven multichannel experience a priority
Responses gathered from 430 B2C ecommerce professionals from retail, media and consumer manufacturing organizations showed that mobile ranks number one for new areas of investment.

Thirty-five percent state they have a mobile program in place, while 30 percent are in early stages of implementation and 25 percent are investigating options and plan to have a live mobile program in 2011.

Less than 5 percent reported no mobile initiatives in the next 12 months.

Mobile Commerce Daily’s Dan Butcher interviewed Brenna Johnson, B2C market lead for the ebusiness team at Endeca, based in Cambridge, MA. Here is what she had to say:

What are some of the key takeaways from the survey related to mobile marketing and advertising?
Having a mobile program is no longer up for debate. Less than 5 percent of respondents reported no mobile initiatives in the next 12 months.

Ecommerce is rushing to capitalize on the billions up for grabs in the mobile channel, with 35 percent stating they have a mobile program in place and will continue to invest in it over the next year.

Thirty percent are in the early stages of implementation, and 25 percent are currently investigating options with the goal of having a live mobile program in 2011.

More retailers are investing in applications over the mobile Web in 2011.     

Thirty-eight percent of retailers reported mobile applications as a top investment, while 31 percent indicated investment in the mobile Web.

The trend towards applications in retail remains consistent, with retailers investing more in the user experience of application environments, and then delivering a mobile-optimized Web site to meet the greater volume of browser-based traffic.

What are the key takeaways related to mobile commerce and payments?
2010 was the year that retailers planned and worked out early mobile kinks, and 2011 is the year where retail mobile commerce will explode.

With the proven results from early adopters, and with one in two American adults owning a Web-enabled mobile device, 95 percent of those surveyed indicate budget for a mobile program in 2011.

Advancements and proliferation of sophisticated devices has pushed widespread adoption.

The emergence of NFC technology in smartphones will only increase the consumer’s reliance on their device – and heighten their engagement even more.

While most retailers reported on average between 5 and 12  percent – and some reporting nearly 20 percent – of traffic coming from mobile devices in 2010, that is certain to grow exponentially in 2011.

What advice can you give to brands, publishers and merchants/retailers based on the findings of the study?
Create multichannel experiences.

For retailers: Having a mobile environment provides the ultimate transparency into the needs and behaviors of consumers – take advantage.

Because phones are with users 24/7 and are not shared devices, search history, behavior and even their location is fully accessible – and totally personal.

Utilize this data to provide a more compelling mobile environment, and improve the user experience in other channels as well.

Make sure you are leveraging the voice of the customer data from your mobile investment to drive more traffic to your Web site and brick and mortar stores.

Here are a few examples:

– Give customers the ability to read user reviews, compare prices or check inventory levels by using their mobile device in-store to accelerate sales cycles. Drive traffic to a mobile offering with in-store signage.

– Use GPS features to push location-based offers to users in the vicinity of a store.

– Use mobile devices as a link to a Web site. Leverage individual search and browse history from your Web site to push targeted SMS promotions to mobile devices.

– Provide the ability to scan bar codes and transact via phone, bypassing checkout lines.

For publishers it is all about convenience on the go. Mobile readers are willing to pay a premium.

Offer a means for readers to access content wherever they might be looking for content – on their front stoop, on the Web or on-the-go.

Mobile users react to exclusive content and time-based promotions – find ways to deliver these experiences in a way unique to the brand and offering.

Push unique experiences, loyalty offers or access to premium content to get users to justify spend on a subscription. 

Make mobile social.

Consumers are becoming increasingly social creatures. They want to share information and products they find relevant and interesting to their network.

And according to eMarketer, consumers now spend more time on social media than on email. 

Align your content and experience with daily social activities for the biggest impact.

Mobile offers a great opportunity to allow readers to spread content via social networks where they are spending the most time.

More users are getting introduced to products and content for the first time via Facebook and not search engines – readers easy tools to evangelize the brand.

From email to bookmarking, and from Facebook to Twitter – simple plugs-ins allow consumers to gain a larger audience for a brand.

Optimize for the iPad.

It is no secret that media and content consumption goes hand-in-hand with tablet devices like the iPad, but iPad shoppers spend an average of 30 percent more per transaction.

With that kind of high-value customer, retailers must think of how they will optimize for the iPad experience.

Initiate the conversation with consumers.

For large brands and CPG companies, mobile is an opportunity to have a direct relationship with consumers and manage the brand experience in a new, approachable way.

The emergence of mobile and mobile-social allows these companies to seize the conversation and be the primary source of information – particularly for CPG companies and large consumer manufacturers who can manage their own brand and experience instead of leaving it to distributors and retailers.

Linking mobile programs to in-store behaviors, like sending manufacturers’ mobile coupons to mobile devices while they are in a bricks-and-mortar store, bridge the gap between an experimental new medium and proven channels.

Final Take