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Can I Go 50/50? Developing a Successful Mobile Strategy Doesn't Need to be Guesswork

03/04/2014 13:56 BST | Updated 03/06/2014 10:59 BST

Netbiscuits COO Daniel Weisbeck believes mobile marketers need some help understanding their customers. In this article, he explores some tangible ways for businesses to understand how customer behavior and preferences can be profiled to drive engagement and increased conversion.

From the iPad, through to the Samsung S3, right down to feature phones and even wearables, we live in a highly fluid and fragmented multi-device world. However, regardless of the device being used, as consumers, we increasingly expect a web experience that's perfect on any device, regardless of when, where and how we're browsing.

The truth is that mobile web growth rates have caught many businesses unprepared. No sooner had they conquered the desktop, another challenge emerged - how to win at mobile and build a new customer connection? Another home truth - there's too much guesswork going on from businesses. They are making decisions about how to serve their mobile audience based around assumptions on the device, including how and where the user is engaging. In a world built on big data, making decisions on something as huge as your mobile strategy based on guesswork is essentially like driving a car blindfolded.

It's a common problem, but it doesn't have to be because the data is there. Marketers no longer have to fly blind. Mobile marketing is not a buzz word, or a futuristic goal. Mobile analytics is the answer today, and it packs plenty of science into the decision making process, helping businesses build up a better picture of how customers really engage on their mobile website. Below we'll look at some simple ways to use mobile analytics and get real results.

Profile mobile visitor personas

Firstly, understand there are different devices for different scenarios. Users often have 2-3 mobile devices, and the context in which devices are used can vary hugely. This means the idea of one customer and one device is over. The new web visitor can be the same person, but with different personas when using different devices at different times of the day. Netbiscuits own research from our Mobile Analytics tool shows these different personas clearly. Early morning web surfers (we'll call them the Caffeine Collective) reach for their devices as part of their 'before-leaving-for-work' routine, normally using high performing, large screen tablets, utilizing home WiFi rather than 3G. Brands and commerce vendors need to understand that the level of contextual segmentation as it could help drive engagement and potentially lead to a purchase.

By contrast, our Lunchtime Powerbrowser is more reliant on 3G/4G through a smartphone or other handset, their battery life is perhaps not at its strongest and in terms of location we may have bandwidth challenges caused by the internet connection available. This group could be turned off if receiving the same content as the Caffeine Collective, driving higher bounce rates at peak times you're trying to engage with them. So an experience more aligned with their device capabilities and contextual environment would be more effective.

The key point here is having the ability to track and react to site abandonments and ultimately increase engagements based on the preferences and choices of site visitors. By creating personas you have a powerful decision-making tool at your disposal.

Identify causes of abandonment rates

Web analytics that assume "one device, one visitor" don't reflect reality. Personas that include device and visitor context provide deeper insight into web success rates. Businesses should find out how many of their current visitors can actually use existing sites and then prioritise fixes, changes and plan enhancements, content updates, new sites and features based on actual visitor data. Guessing is for game show contestants, not mobile marketers.

Delivering personalized web campaigns doesn't have to mean building many websites

I've said it before, responsive web design is a brilliant IT strategy but a lazy marketing strategy. Moving beyond the basic strategy of shifting of content to fit a screen doesn't have to be a massive IT project. Adaptive marketing content can start with something as simple as showing social links or not depending on bandwidth speed. With Mobile analytics making content and UX decisions to maximise conversion becomes a marketing decision, not an IT delivery strategy.

Enrich desktop analytics with mobile user behavior

Vendors such as Google Analytics have opened up the world of web analytics to businesses large and small, and that should be built upon. Taking that data and mapping mobile user behavior against it can unlock some staggering trends. Identify where users have come from and when they decide to buy or not to buy, and supplement that with contextual and device data to spot patterns and trends. For example, it should be a priority for any company to understand where their bounce rates are the highest, mobile data can reveal bounce rates by connection speed, by device type and capabilities, by screen orientation, an on. This data is some of the most powerful information available to mobile marketers and can drive much sought after increases in conversion.

Mobile is complex and will continue to be for a long time to come. Marketers need to learn to rely on the one thing that has been the foundation of all good campaigns, customer observation. The multitude of customer preferences, differences in behavior and device capability mixed with contextual variety means we cannot treat mobile web visitors as a single homogenous group. Ignoring the mobile visitor information that is now available will ultimately cost brands customers. We shouldn't let complexity overawe us, especially with such powerful data at our fingertips. Embrace mobile analytics and embrace the future of mobile marketing.

Daniel Weisbeck is COO and CMO of Netbiscuits. For more information on Mobile Analytics and Device Detection, please visit: www.netbiscuits.com