The CMO CouncilÂ has trademarked a signature call to action for mobile marketers called Engage at Every Stage, which urges mobile marketers to use emerging Mobile Relationship Marketing (MRM) to increase customer interaction.
MRM is the strategy of breaking the traditional barriers between devices, adapting to a multi-screen world, and developing a single consumer experience that extends across devices and screens. The core concept holds the consumer at the center of any marketing strategy, with the experienceÂ extending across any and all touchpoints that the consumer chooses to engage with.
So, rather than creating a Web experience, a mobile experience and a tablet experience, marketers need to consider the consumer that uses multiple devices on the same path to purchase and ensure consistency and seamlessness.
Engage At Every Stage + MRM
In their massive 72-page “Engage at Every Stage” report, the CMO Council raises this central issue for marketers facing a rapidly evolving landscape:
The question certainly isn’t whether consumers are moving their lives into a more fully mobile, multi-device, multi-subscription model.
The question is how marketers are responding to this new engagement paradigm. So far, the answer has been to throw advertising dollars at the channel, transitioning online and digital spend strategies and morphing them into mobile marketing strategies.
The solution is MRM, the manner in which marketers must approach the “new engagement paradigm.”
MRM is the new call to action for companies looking to ensure continuous customer touch and interaction, sustained support and service, closer and more dependent connectivity, as well as greater insight and intimacy.
For many, this is not big news or some earthshaking revelation. However, with all this “coming from the top” and shared with the large reach of the CMO Council, this acknowledgement of the paradigm shift is an important next step as marketers move towards a more complete understanding of the next 3-5 years.
Impact on travel: Don’t get left behind
This cross-platform consumption strategy is perhaps even more important to a high-touch industry like travel.
Consumers are no longer visiting just one site or using only one device in their travel research, planning, booking, traveling and sharing stages. Companies that wish to provide value to consumers at each stage of the travel life-cycle must fully execute on an understanding of MRM and its related components.
An effective MRM strategy integrates social interaction; customer insight gathering and listening; consumer engagement and loyalty; market listening; purchase incentive or inducement; and lifetime revenue optimization, all through optimized use of the mobile channel.
And yet, only 16% of executives surveyed in the Engage at Every Stage report had a formal strategy for using mobile as a channel for customer interaction.
So what exactly are some techniques and takeaways for marketers developing a mobile/multi-screen strategy? We asked several travel industry executives for their thoughts.
Continuous customer touch and interaction
The continuous nature of mobile is one of the most appealing features of those marketers surveyed, with the targeted marketing opportunities and the “always-on” nature of the device following close behind.
With many customers sleeping next to their devices, the possibility for continuous interaction is very real. It also means that anÂ organizationÂ must build the capability to monitor and leverage all communications coming through mobile channels across a brand’s various touch-points.
Travel brands have an especially interesting challenge, as the traveler’s lifecycle is long: from inspiration to planning to booking to post-trip sharing, there are many different areas in which travel brands can engage their customers. An additional challenge here is that customers have different needs and wants at each point in this cycle, meaning that brands must target each touchpoint to reflect the desired interaction.
David Thomson, of mobile marketing travel platform Bynd, points out that there are some inherent differences in definition of “continuous touch:”
Outside of [NYC and SF] our clients and potential clients really don’t have an understanding of continuous touch or word of mouth mechanisms. People point to wanting to see ROI, KPI, and sales metrics, however, continuous touch is not something you can measure in those terms.
We view continuous touch as being something more akin to traditional media advertising and brand engagement methods. Methods employing prizes, schwag, and interactiveÂ campaigns, and used by Â consumer goods brands like soft drinks, alcohol, tobacco, and cereal companies. Having it in your pocket makes it all the more easy to share with other people.
By considering the customer demographic alongside the actual marketing channel, “engage at every stage” becomes a much more reachable target. The strategy can be tailored to both the user and their current device – and then altered accordingly for continuous touch and interaction as the consumer grows older or simply moves to another device.
Sustained support and service
The mobile channel offers a 24/7 lifeline for customer service, something that consumers have embraced more enthusiastically then most companies. Turning to Twitter for immediate customer service has become common, and thus requires a re-thinking of the entire customer service experience.
Silos can no longer function effectively under this model, as the traditional customer service departments must now also interface with their marketing and social media counterparts to ensure a stellar customer experience across the full lifecycle of travel.
It’s also important to note how the multi-screen world can impact the support and service experience, says Dai Pham, mobile ads marketing manager for Google.
The trend in multi-screen behavior means that consumers are constantly connected and turning to their different devices based on context and need. This creates lots of opportunities for businesses to provide service and support when customers find it most relevant. For example, eSurance has a mobile app that has accident resources so customers can get roadside assistance, find a repair shop and submit accident info, right at the moment they need it most.
Our research showed that consumers are increasingly living in a multi-screen world where they use multiple devices interchangeably, or even at the same time, throughout the day. In this new reality, consumers aren’t just interacting with businesses in silos of desktop, tablet or mobile, they’re having these blended experiences that build on each other. We found that even TV no longer captures our full attention anymore, so savvy marketers are realizing how important it is to look at their campaigns holistically across screens.
In this blended multi-screen consumer universe, it becomes even more crucial for businesses to have a strategy to interact on each device, as well as across devices.
Travel brands are uniquely positioned to take advantage of this trend, as the life-cycle of travel lends itself to access across touch-points. What can your company do to be more accessible for support and service on any device that the consumer uses to interact with your brand?
Susan Helstab, the EVP for marketing at Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, points in the report to the ability to stay connected to both the consumer and their experience as a key advantage to an integrated mobile strategy.
“Providing consumers with relevant information at the right moment leads to higher levels of engagement, loyalty and ultimately, conversion. In order to do this, we have to maintain a clear, customer-centric view of everything we do, and that involves breaking down all silos. We have to be agnostic about where content is created and where consumers will access it.”
Closer connectivity also doesn’t only mean that devices must connect more closely with consistent cross-channel information; internal teams must work selflessly and openly with other internal teams and any external contractors engaged in building the mobile customer experience.
Teams, devices, information and experiences must all work closely together to truly build a winning experience that wins both customer and C-suite approval.
Winning also requires a deft ability to look across departments and vendors and aggregate all necessary consumer information in one place. Without an understanding of consumer behavior derived from a large base of transactional and behavioral history, mobile marketing success in the increasingly personalized travel industry will be elusive.
For organizations that are not yet sure how to take advantage of currently-existing data, it is imperative to do an organizational audit to most fully leverage the constant connectivity of mobile, says Henry Harteveldt of Atmos Research Group.
Do an audit – how much customer info do you have as an organization? Where does it exist? On what databases? Who owns it? Are you taking advantage of other information resources such as data overlays from companies like Epsilon that you can overlay to create a richer picture of your customer? How effective is your email marketing? How carefully can you target? Are you capturing unstructured data, say comments from social media? Are you capturing all available purchase information?
After determining the current state of the organization, marketers can set a plan of action to aggregate information across channels to inform the fullest possible engagement with customers.
Greater insight and intimacy
Mobile marketing offers an unprecedented level of insight into a consumer’s preferences, behaviors and desires. The always-on nature of the device means that it offers a large amount of data for marketers to mine in their continued understanding of what the consumer wants.
Howard Schneider, from Metzner-Schneider, reminds marketers of the advantages and pitfalls of this insight opportunity.
“The mobile revolution means that marketers finally have the ability to deliver customized targeted experiences to each customerâ€™s hand (or pocket).
The key is to ensure that mobile is fully leveraged by actually delivering a unique experience that is relevant and valuable to each consumer â€“ mobile efforts that simply mirror an existing web experience, for example, are not living up to mobileâ€™s full potential.
Trust is essential for intimate engagement, so marketers need to be careful to actively solicit customer preferences (what kind of messages or offers would I like to receive? How often? In which categories, etc.) and respect those preferences. Too often we see marketers use mobile simply to deliver coupons or messages that are mass-oriented rather than based on individual consumer wants and needs.”
Atmos’ Henry Harteveldt adds:
“The biggest challenge about mobile when it comes to customer intimacy and insights is recognizing that mobile is still far from perfect.Â A company still has to have the right data warehouse, customer knowledge, access to information, and all the other analytics that allow it to be a good marketer.
Mobile is really about the last mile, and cannot cover up gaps or flows in the larger strategic customer insights. If you don’t have a good customer database, if you haven’t segmented, if you don’t have a good email program, mobile is not going to be that much of a help to you.”
Ultimately, the travel industry must carefully take advantage of the inherent trust that many travelers give to travel brands. According to Atmos Research Group’s research, 4 out of 10 travelers are willing to share personal data in the interest of personalization and better-performing products. But if the industry is not up to the task, the consumer’s interest will be wasted.
“Travel tends to be one of the industries where people are generally more willing to share information, and as an industry, one that people are more willing to trust. So there’s a wonderful business opportunity out there for smart travel companies to try to do more with their customers, and mobile is a great tool to bring it all to life.”
The wonder and magic of travel lends itself to particularly bright and engaging interactions, interactions that can become especially useful for customers seeking intimate, targeted solutions that enhance their travel lives. And by improving user experience, delivering appropriate and targeted intimacy, and being present across customer touch-points, a cohesive MRMÂ strategyÂ can also be especially lucrative for the forward-looking travel company. What’s your next step?
Download the full report here.