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Making mobile ads engaging

By Doug Stovall

A recent study published by Forrester’s Julie Ask titled “The State of Mobile Technology Adoption” found that the majority of organizations surveyed have less than $500,000 annually to devote to developing mobile services. This includes mobile-optimized Web sites, mobile applications and other mobile-specific activities.

A separate survey from the Mobile Marketing Association recently found that companies are currently spending just 1 percent of their total marketing budgets on mobile, but the association recommends increasing this to just 7 percent to take full advantage of the medium.

Click, not slick
These reports paint a pretty clear picture of the mobile marketing and advertising landscape, one in which organizations have small budgets and must learn to optimize results from mobile programs.

The novelty of running the first set of mobile ads has passed, and brands and agencies must now shift their focus on how to create engagement and encourage sales.

The old theory of spray-and-pray is not only outdated, but completely at odds with mobile’s greatest strength as an advertising medium, which is personalization.

The German mobile app maker Trademob recently claimed that 40 percent of mobile ad clicks are either accidental or fraudulent. Should this deter marketers from embarking on mobile initiatives? Absolutely not. And here is why.

Mobile ads are good, but mobile ads plus engagement are better. We as advertisers must promote the right kinds of clicks, and be able to prove it.

Mobile ads, like any other ads, rely on impressions to reach a broad audience across a number of platforms, devices, operating systems and screens.

Proper rendering is essential to delivering a positive branding experience and encouraging the all-powerful click.

But it does not end there.

After the click is the make-or-break moment for a mobile ad. Apps are vulnerable to a similar fate – many brands brag about how many times their app has been downloaded, but what does it mean if it is never opened again?

A survey from Localytics found that 26 percent of apps are opened only once. Does that really help branding?

The problem with many mobile programs is that the story ends here – with a click or a download. But it does not have to be that way. Clicks and downloads should no longer be primary key performance indicators.

Food for thought
Here is an example of how brands can take their mobile ad programs a step further. A national fast food chain recently ran a mobile banner ad for a new combo meal across a variety of mobile content targeting its key consumer demographics.

When clicked, the ad offered multiple means of engagement including social integration via Facebook and Twitter, a restaurant location finder, a link to nutritional information, an offer to join the restaurant’s loyalty club and a coupon.

This was a smart approach because the restaurant chain was employing a number of strategies to engage the customer post-click and encourage ongoing engagement and sales.

The ad was an overwhelming success, generating 29 million impressions in just 30 days, a 0.97 percent click-through rate (CTR), a $4.99 cost per action (CPA) and an outstanding 18 percent opt-in rate for the company’s mobile loyalty club.

This post-activity action is about re-engagement through permission-based marketing and represents real opportunities to develop long-lasting relationships with customers.

By keeping these interactions contextual and relevant, they will be appealing to consumers and profitable for brands.

As the fast food chain example proves, there are many ways to continue the conversation with consumers post-click. Try offering a coupon, a deal or promotion, an opportunity to sign up for your newsletter or loyalty program. Incent them to sign up for continued interactions.

WHEN INTEGRATED with traditional CRM systems, this opt-in data is invaluable—and a big missed opportunity for brands that focus solely on that initial click or impression.

Make everything after the click or install count, so that consumers actually enjoy the process of being marketed to and are looking forward to hearing from you on their mobile device.

Doug Stovall is executive vice president of sales and services at Hipcricket, Kirkland, WA. Reach him at [email protected].