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To boost confidence in mobile ROI, track what matters

Mobile is (still) having a moment, as most marketers will attest. Pundits say we’re now into the third annual “year of mobile,” and brands continue to experiment with push notifications, in-app advertisements and mobile-optimized shopping experiences. Yet marketers aren’t taking full advantage of mobile opportunities, largely because they don’t have the metrics to back their efforts.

A new study from Forrester, commissioned by 4INFO, finds a disconnect between the marketers’ priorities and how they measure mobile. Only 18 percent of marketers surveyed feel “very confident” in their effort to attribute ROI from mobile ads. Despite the hype, mobile advertising only accounts for 5 percent of the average brand’s budget. For mobile to truly stick, marketers need to better track the "mobile moments" that they want their customers to experience.

Mobile is a different beast

One problem plaguing measurement efforts is marketers’ tendency to treat mobile like other platforms. “We're probably trying to compare too directly to the metrics established for desktop Web," Paul Bremer, chief revenue officer at Rhythm NewMedia, tells ClickZ.

Most marketers consider mobile as a loyalty channel — a way to improve customer engagement, yet they’re tracking the same traffic-related metrics that they do for desktop Web experiences, which have different objectives.

Treat devices differently

Just because mobile encompasses tablets, smartphones and up-and-coming wearables doesn’t mean marketers should treat all devices equally. Tablets have higher conversion rates, for instance, because they’re easier to use in the checkout process.

"While most online marketing analytics platforms report tablets as mobile devices distinct from desktop computers, it's clear that for many people, tablet use is functionally very different than smartphone use," Lee Zalben, president of Peanut Butter & Co., tells Adweek. "For example, while most people carry a smartphone while they shop for groceries, far less walk the aisles with a tablet at their side."

Look beyond traffic

Marketers likely want mobile audiences to take a specific action, such as posting a photo or requesting information. “Marketers must define precisely what they expect their customers to do on their mobile websites or mobile apps, and what actions they would like customers to take, before tracking progress,” Forrester analyst Thomas Husson writes in a blog post.

Instead of tracking rudimentary, traffic-related metrics like static page views and app downloads, for instance, they should look at usage and time spent on site, both of which better illustrate engagement, Husson says. Only 31 percent of marketers are measuring social interactions, and just 30 percent track post-click engagement such as time spent with a site or in an app.

If marketers could track more reliably, 86 percent say they would allocate more of their budgets to mobile and 93 percent would run more cross-channel campaigns, Forrester reports. Opportunities are ripe for the taking, once marketers define the right metrics to track their success.

[Image via Can Stock Photo]

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