Facebook to retailers: 'Every company needs to invest heavily in mobile'

CHICAGO—Retailers must significantly accelerate and evolve their mobile efforts in order to capture today’s tech-savvy, cross-device consumers, Facebook’s Head of U.S. E-Commerce Jeremy Lewis told attendees here at the annual Internet Retailer Conference + Exposition (IRCE).

“Mobile isn’t a thing. It’s the thing,” Lewis said. “Every company needs to invest heavily in mobile.”

Noting that developers submit roughly 1,000 new mobile applications for Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android each day, Lewis said app usage is poised to continue growing in the months and years to come. He pointed out that more than 70% of all retail site traffic during the 2015 holiday shopping season’s key Black Friday/Cyber Monday weekend originated on mobile devices, adding that Facebook is already working with some retail and marketing partners to devise mobile strategies for the holiday shopping season to come.

“According to Facebook data, in 2016, 37% of all purchases take place on mobile devices,” Lewis said. “In addition, 60% of omnichannel shoppers say they’ll make more purchases on mobile this year.”

Mobile optimization is especially critical for attracting millennial consumers, Lewis explained. “It’s important to look at both your existing customer base and the customers you want to acquire in years to come,” he said. “Millennials want mobile apps, while older users still prefer the mobile web.”

Retailers must think about creating content designed especially for the mobile user experience. Lewis said that Facebook users now watch 100 million hours of video each day across the platform, also noting a recent Cisco forecast estimating that video will account for 75% of all mobile data traffic by the year 2020.

“Every marketer has to learn how to leverage video to build their company,” Lewis said. “You have to be very thoughtful about creating video expressly for mobile. It’s all about the first three seconds—you’ve got to get [consumers’] attention. Make it short and snackable. We’re trying to come up with all different ways to help companies share their stories with consumers.”

Lewis said retailers should think of digital commerce in terms of people, not devices, implementing people-based measurement solutions that span across channels. “92% of retail sales still happen in-store, but everyone has a phone with them. 65% of people use phones in stores,” Lewis said. “You need to have a way to capture the intent 'signals' taking place with this cross-device activity. These signals allow you to reach the right people along the purchase path, and deliver more timely ads.”

Merchants must develop new, more advanced strategies to reach specific customer demographics. “The traditional marketing funnel is dead,” Lewis said. “The path to purchase is not linear, because people have so many different ways to discover, research and buy products. Marketers have to adjust and develop strategies around specific audiences for that.”

Lewis suggests that retailers leverage shopper data to build “lookalike audiences”—for example, their best jewelry shoppers, or their best mom shoppers—then run campaigns targeting these profiles. He recommends keeping these segmented audiences relatively broad, limiting them to no more than a dozen profiles in all, and capping each audience somewhere around 10,000 people.

“The phone presents an incredible opportunity,” Lewis said. “What better place for your brand to create awareness for yourself, and to demonstrate to consumers why they should buy your product?”

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Filed Under: Marketing