Digital Summit Phoenix 2016 – The Future of Mobile


Mobile marketing panel with John Gough

A few weeks ago I was invited to participate on a panel at Digital Summit Phoenix on the “Future of Mobile”. I was honored to share the stage with some great marketers: Anne Gherini of StumbleUpon, Bethany Mulcahy of WeddingWire, and Patricia Travaline of Skyword. We had a very interesting conversation about what’s happening in mobile marketing, what marketers need to be paying attention to now, and what’s on the horizon.

Unfortunately the video is not available, but I wanted to share some of the questions we considered.

Death of the banner ad and the rise of branded sponsor content // Death of interrupt advertising and the rise of customer journey

What does this mean for advertising? What are some ways in which you’re seeing this play out?

I feel really strongly that this is the same cycle that marketing has been making for a long time. David Ogilvy wrote Ogilvy on Advertising in 1983, and there’s lots of stuff in there about advertorial content. Branded content is not a new idea, it’s just on a new platform and being experienced in a new way.

Because of how much exposure our audiences have to marketing content on a daily basis, to make the signal come through the noise the bar for branded or sponsored content is so much higher than organic content. There’s an inherent trust associated with organic search results or “the feed”, and when paid content gets in the middle of that, it is naturally suspect.

So three things have to happen:

  • It has to be appropriate for the context – does it make sense for where people are browsing
  • It has to provide real value – the more pushy it feels, the less people will trust it
  • It has to be good – we have less attention than ever for stuff that isn’t really interesting, so it has to really stand out. No pressure.

Email optimization of mobile products

Any tips or best practices to share?

Most of the email I get from brands is still pushing. Amazon is amazing at this – they will send you emails reminding you what you were recently looking at, or what was abandoned in your shopping cart, or related items, etc. They develop these sophisticated profiles of your behavior and are able to really target messaging. Most businesses can’t do that – they don’t have the technology or the data insights, but they often don’t have the need either.

We’ve found a lot of success by asking simple questions. Marketing is supposed to be a two-way communication, but I think we sometimes rely too heavily on the data we’re gathering and are missing opportunities to hear real feedback. (Best resource here is the book “Ask” by Ryan Levesque – pretty good and very actionable).

Responsive design / UX / CTA in mobile vs. desktop

Differences in mobile vs. desktop in crafting a CTA? Examples of this working effectively?

Now we’re talking about context again. The first thing that I think of regarding mobile call to actions is a simple click-to-call phone number. It’s the easiest thing in the world to implement, but so often it’s missing from the mobile experience.

More broadly, in terms of attention and context, make the call to action something that lowers the conversion bar to get more engagement. Don’t make people fill out a 10 input form if three will do. Deliver gated content and downloads by email, because most people can’t put that on their phone. The hardest part of user-centered design is getting outside yourself and questioning your assumptions. It takes a lot of effort to identify the things you take for granted and consider them from someone else’s perspective.

Micro-moments in mobile

How do brands leverage mobile content in an authentic way? Why is it important to find emotional resonance with your audience? How can micro moments string together to form a relationship?

Emotion is a powerful encoding tool for people as they learn and build memories. When you think about “building relationships”, this is what you’re talking about.

All real relationships are built out of micro-moments, lots of them strung together. When you think about a person, you don’t think of all those moments, maybe just a few that stand out, but more often you have a general sense of how you feel about them that is informed by all those connections and interactions.

So if that’s our paradigm, then we should really reflect on what makes for good relationships.

  • They’re reciprocal – it’s not always about you. There’s both give and take.
  • They make you feel special – when you’re together, you’re the most important thing in the world to them.
  • They’re independent – they’re not always in your business. They don’t have to have your attention at all times.

It’s tempting to think about “the journey” as something you control, but really it’s a lot more fragmented than that. They’re going to see you on Facebook or on a Google organic search or a PPC ad, and whatever their first experience is, it needs to be positive and engaging. The next one should be equally good. So the goal is make sure that across the engagement, people continue to be treated in a way that makes sense regardless of the point in the progression.