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… Or, maybe not: Identifying mcommerce conversion rates a must in 2015, experts say

NEW YORK – Marketing executives at Mobile Marketer’s Mobile FirstLook: Strategy 2015 conference urged mcommerce players to provide utility, value and frictionless experiences as mobile payments are not yet in a position to overtake credit card or cash solutions.

During the “Mobile Commerce: How Convenience, Security and Mobile-Friendly Interfaces Are Driving Purchases and Payments on Smartphones and Tablets” session, the executives encouraged marketers to define calls of action and highlight the conversion action to ensure that the consumer says “yes” at every point of the mcommerce journey. Brands must also acknowledge the potential disruption on mobile devices and ensure that their ads showcase great content, relevant value or a revolutionary tactic to capture users’ attention.

“I don’t think anyone has seen a mobile ad for Toyota with a call to action that says ‘Buy Now!'” said Andy Maskin, advertising consultant. “Scheduling a test drive, to me, is mobile commerce; it’s mobile driven.

“If I had to pin a definition to mcommerce for the purpose of brands, it’s driving mobile interactions where there’s a meaningful transaction leading to an immediate purchase or future purchase,” he said.

“I would say the point where it becomes mcommerce is where a transaction takes place: where I give the brand my credit card number, my phone number.”

There is a lack of consensus in the industry over the value of measuring mobile conversions. For another point of view from the Mobile FirstLook conference, see this story.

The panel was moderated by Michael Boland, senior analyst and vice president of content, BIA/Kelsey.

Enticing consumers
Marketers must ensure that their advertisements are contextually relevant if they want to draw users in to purchase their services or products. Because small screens are generally an additive experience, advertisers may run into some resistance issues that are not as apparent with television or print ads.

“The key disconnect between the brand and consumer is that the brand doesn’t fully realize that when the consumer is doing something on the phone, they’re in the middle of something,” Mr. Maskin said.

“It’s a very utilitarian thing. Interrupting that has a little bit more of a resistance than going to a commercial break on a TV program,” he said.

“The context manners. What I envision somehow evolving with mobile commerce is seeing an ad unit and almost bookmark it in a way or save it for later.”

The New York Times uses its pay wall as a call to action to drive subscriptions. Readers are allowed to read up to 10 free articles per month on their mobile devices or desktops, but must purchase a subscription to access more content.

“My main objective is subscriptions; I don’t shoot for download goals but do try to back into them,” said Scott Stanchak, director of mobile marketing, New York Times. “There are still people internally that really value downloads, but based on my objective, it’s ultimately it’s the action they take after the download that drives ROI.

“Mobile measurement’s come a really long way in the past couple of years. In terms of app space, we’ve really been able to measure better to allow us to optimize our spend more efficiently.”

Frictionless experiences
Mr. Maskin reiterated that one of the most optimal mobile strategies to explore for driving revenue in 2015 is that of mobile loyalty platforms (see story). While an idea may sound attractive to an advertising team, it will not yield more commerce unless it offers one or both of the following: real utility and value, or something revolutionary.

“The magic bullet, or the best we can do with the technology we have, might be loyalty programs: bribing customers to opt in and identify themselves,” Mr. Maskin said. “I think a very, very exciting player in this space is the folks working on digital load-to-card couponing.”

“What you need to do in general in trying to boost effectiveness of mcommerce is start with the customer and find friction,” he said. “Where is friction and does this idea I have reduce friction or add steps?

“Mobile payments is a great example. Is it easier than pulling a $20 out of my wallet? It has to be easy.”

Another key way of driving sales is making sure that the brand is visible on every mobile channel.

“The big thing for New York Times is to be available on any mobile platform,” Mr. Stanchak said. “The convergence of screens is eventually going to come.”

“It’s a great point that as phones get bigger, they begin to bleed into the realm of tablets,” Mr. Maskin said. “In a broader sense, a screen is a screen is a screen.

“People will expect anything that can be done on one screen to be done on all screens. That affects the purchase funnel in different ways.”

Ultimately, identifying conversion points, whether it is driving app downloads, integrating with a loyalty platform or streamlining the checkout process, is most imperative for marketers.

“Define your action, know what that conversion action is going to be, and then figure out all your touchpoints,” Mr. Stanchak said.

“Marketing is really about looking at things holistically. When you’re drawing someone in, there’s that end action.”

Final Take
Alex Samuely is an editorial assistant on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York