In 2002 the mobile telephone reached a critical milestone, with the number of mobile connections surpassing those of traditional landlines. A decade later and it has been predicted that the number of mobile devices in use - whether feature phones, smartphones or tablets - is to soon surpass that of living people. This, according to Brendan O'Kane, CEO for OtherLevels, presents marketers with an unmissable chance to engage the customer. This article is copyright 2013 The Best Customer Guide.

Not only will there soon be more mobile devices than actual people to use them, but they are expected to beat desktop and laptop computers as the principal gateway to the internet for the majority of the world's consumers by the end of 2013. In fact, in today's always-connected culture, consumers have become so attached to their mobile devices that a sense of panic ('no-mo-phobia') can set in when someone is separated from their device.

Given the mobile's ubiquity and power to capture consumers' attention, it is perhaps no surprise that brands have been using this channel to boost customer engagement and drive sales since well before the advent of the smartphone.

Yet, as lucrative as the mobile has become, until recently marketers targeting customers via this fiercely personal channel had only limited options for measuring the effectiveness of their campaigns - specifically, gauging the impact of mobile messages and their subsequent return in investment (ROI).

Now, as ever-growing numbers of marketers are going mobile (it is forecast that marketers will spend some US$37 billion on mobile campaigns by 2017), they are realising that measurement through action analytics methods is the key to creating consistent engagement and retention of their valued device-carrying customers.

This heralds what OtherLevels has nicknamed "The Age of Mobile Measurement" in its recent whitepaper, entitled 'The Mobile Messaging Opportunity'.

Action Analytics
Most marketers already know that acquiring new customers tends to be far more expensive than keeping existing ones. Today, the cost of attracting new customers has gone 'through the roof', according to Andrew Green, head of business development at game developer TinyCo. So when it comes to marketing through mobile, engaging and retaining existing customers - rather than attracting new ones - is a far more cost-effective route to boosting ROI.

As mobile has evolved and become more sophisticated, it has spawned a variety of different messaging types that marketers can deploy to reach almost any user, whether or not his or her device is considered "smart". They include:

  • Short Messaging Service (SMS);
  • Push notifications;
  • Mobile email;
  • In-app content.

Regardless of which format marketers choose for mobile outreach, if they want to get the most out of each message, they need to implement an action analytics plan to measure audience response to messages and pinpoints specific elements (such as wording, tone, and length) that drive the most conversions. They also need to include these three key techniques in their strategy:

  1. Action analytics
    This measurement method collects deep granular data (e.g. messages sent vs. opened, time since last open, and opens resulting in goals such as registrations, purchases or social shares) that links specific message copy to particular user behaviours and outcomes. This information reveals a lot about customer preferences by showing exactly how they're interacting with messages down to individual taps and swipes.
  2. A/B split testing
    Using data gathered through action analytics, retailers can identify particular audience segments and send them two or more versions of one marketing message to see which drives more conversions. The winning message will present an ever clearer image of what customers want and need, allowing marketers to crank up the relevance of each successive message.
  3. Retargeting
    After running an A/B test, a retailer can use the results to further fine-tune the message and send it to customers who did not open the first message or who did open it without following the call to action. Customers who don't respond to messages can be retargeted again and again, so marketers can make sure they haven't missed any opportunity for a sale.

While the measurement of marketing messages on mobile is starting to come into its own, it still hasn't caught up to the number of mobile campaigns being designed and deployed - and an industry-wide set of standards and best practices has yet to develop, according to the Interactive Advertising Bureau's Mobile Marketing Center of Excellence.

But that doesn't make it a smart choice to forgo measurement; the tools and knowledge already exist and are easily accessible. By now the saying "it's a mobile world" is an understatement: careful analysis of mobile marketing messages is the best way to craft campaigns that yield customer engagement and retention that lasts.