American Marketer


Analytics: The brains behind mobile marketing success

January 3, 2012


By Lara Albert

Coming out of the busiest marketing season of the year, the “Act now” SMS offers, “Hottest item of the year” emails and colorful flyer coupons have been pouring in faster than ever.

Although a few have prompted me to hop online or run to the department store, most have been disregarded due to the sheer volume.

So, is mobile marketing destined to follow the same path as too much email spam and too many coupon flyers that go straight to the recycling bin? What are marketers doing to take advantage of the unique opportunities that the mobile medium offers?

How well do you know your customers?

For mobile, success rests on the ability to deliver relevant and highly personalized communications.

This means understanding individual preferences and needs, being able to anticipate them with a high degree of accuracy – and to some degree – frequency, and being able to deliver the right communication or offer at the right moment – the moment it really matters.

Of course, the big question is, how?

The ability to be relevant and truly engage consumers in a compelling, differentiated way comes down to how well you know them and, more specifically, how well you know their needs. And that comes down to two things: data and analytics.

No matter how you look at it, to take advantage of the precise time and place when customers are most receptive to the right message, offer, advertisement or application, wireless carriers and their partners must be able to connect with customers based on real-time context.

That means they have must have a deep understanding of individuals as well as their behavior, purchase patterns, consumption, locations, social interactions and interests.

What this requires goes beyond having a wealth of data about your customers. It involves applying data mining and modern analytics in real time to determine how best to engage a customer and the right context for doing so.

Using analytics to define true context

As the mobile ecosystem continues to evolve, there is not a single player that is not interested in context.

Many mobile marketers and application developers are leveraging device data such as location as a way to bring one dimension of contextual understanding to the timeliness of messages and experiences.

Yet, at the same time, most would agree that location alone is not context.

Until true context is leveraged in the pursuits of each of the mobile players, including brands, content owners, marketing agencies, retailers, advertising networks and mobile app providers, it will be difficult to advance the real opportunities that mobile marketers have in driving the consumption of commerce, content, apps and games.

Mobile marketers need capabilities that allow them to be context-aware.

Available today – yet arguably not widely used – are powerful context-aware computing tools based on modern analytics.

These tools allow you to build highly complex behavioral and demographic consumer profiles, leveraging a breadth of usage data sources.

The tools also provide predictive intelligence that allows mobile marketers to create individually dynamic experiences for their consumers. The result?

The most relevant and memorable mobile experience delivered for reach individual consumer.

Mobile analytics in action

Look at a retailer such as Dick’s Sporting Goods that wants to drive in-store traffic and promote new merchandise.

Knowing that someone works just a few blocks away and is headed out for his lunch break allows a carrier to deliver relevant messaging directly to the device, marrying mobile data that it has with point-of-sale data that the store has on a customer’s brand preferences.

Understanding the proper context for a customer can also help deliver an enhanced in-app experience.

Knowing that a specific customer is about to leave work and is in the neighborhood, for example, provides the in-app opportunity to promote Houlihan’s “Happy hour” or provide a restaurant recommendation for dinner while she is away from home.

As another example, an automaker such as BMW can determine driving patterns for individual users by time of day and day of week. This creates interesting predictive opportunities for powering contextualized interaction with the user.

Think of getting a notification from your car to let you know you will be 50 miles away from an empty tank when you pass the next Chevron station 20 miles ahead.

Or a heads up that Olivia’s Offshore Café is 15 miles ahead at the time you are looking for a breakfast spot, and if you say the word of the week – “holidays” – you will receive 10 percent off your bill.

Delivering what the customer wants

Consumer expectation for mobile is to enable new kinds of decision making, transactions and entertainment. Yet, too often we find ourselves inundated with irrelevant messages, offers and choices which fall on deaf ears.

With analytics, the opportunities to monetize the richness of customer data and deliver a better, more relevant mobile experience are there for the taking. But how many mobile players are really positioned to do so?

Let us challenge ourselves to think beyond how many messages to deliver, how big the discount should be and which dancing reindeer graphics to use and focus on what really matters for mobile – what the customer wants.

Lara Albert is senior director of global marketing at Globys, a Seattle-based provider of contextual marketing services for telecommunications. Reach her at