Published as “Correlating marketing with mobile products: Your path to conversions & engagement” in: Direct Marketing Magazine by Lee Dale, February 2016
With over two billion smartphone users projected in 2016, the mobile space is growing far more competitive, with increasingly savvy consumers expecting more from mobile experiences.
While ad spend for mobile is projected by eMarketer to reach $101.37 billion in 2016, an increase of almost 50% from 2015, alignment between marketing and mobile product experiences seems to be decreasing.
Increasing the amount of spend on mobile marketing is not nearly as important as improving the quality of engagement as users move from marketing channels to your site, app, or other mobile product. The evidence, as highlighted by Google: one in four apps are never used and 29% of smartphone users will switch to another site or app if their needs aren’t satisfied.
Let’s look at three key phases where marketing must be aligned with product to reduce abandonment and increase engagement.
1. Product discovery phase
The product discovery phase is the foundation for all ongoing efforts to drive customer engagement. This is the most critical phase for aligning marketing and product, as the tone of the customer experience is set during these early customer touchpoints and product aspirations are defined by awareness-focused marketing initiatives.
To move from awareness to engagement, marketing-led product introductions must align with the real world value of the product. As product experience and value is defined by the audience the product serves and how the product is designed to meet the goals of those target users, it’s vital marketing understands and is able to frame a story reflective of the product narrative.
To accomplish this, the key task at this phase is to have marketing and product teams work together to understand the primary use cases of the product and ensure that the promise being marketed to the user is delivered by the product itself.
2. First use phase
The key to succeeding in this phase is to ensure a natural segue between the product marketing and first impression of the product. The transition from marketing to product can be as instant as clicking from an ad or direct email to a website, or it could involve going from in-store to a mobile site on the commute home, or installing and launching an app after a visit to the app store.
In each case, moving from marketing channel to product should feel familiar. Where the user first lands in the product needs to correlate with the marketing that lead the prospective user to the product in the first place.
Capturing that look and feel in product begins with identity standards for logo, colours and value statements shared amongst marketing and product teams, along with considering how the introductory marketing campaign will tie in with the related product landing page.
That sets the tone for your product launch, but with both marketing and product continually iterating to drive awareness and engagement, ongoing marketing campaigns and product updates need to be coordinated to align product first use with current marketing language and visuals.
There are two first use aspect at play: users who have had past interactions with a brand bring a bias to the table based on their experience, and users who are new frame their expectations of the product through the introductory marketing channel. When there’s a disconnect between those experiences or expectations and the product, it’s shown that anxiety, doubt and frustration build. This leads to abandonment. Ongoing collaborative planning between marketing and product is your path to ensuring conversions at this critical handoff point, where users are moving from a marketing channel to becoming a product user.
3. Engagement phase
Once a user is in the product, the focus shifts to retention. Engagement tactics drive retention, which is established through an ongoing series of interactions.
For products that encourage new behaviour, self-discovery is the enemy of engagement. This is where an onboarding process becomes the most important tool for establishing an affinity to the product. Onboarding takes the user from spectator to participant by outlining product capabilities, values and goals, while encouraging interaction.
Ongoing engagement involves consistent, worthwhile communication and interaction with product users. This engagement should be aligned with the value of the product so that it is not perceived as spam. Ongoing engagement may occur across a variety of channels, including targeted email, in-app notifications, OS notifications and in-site messaging.
Opening up two-way engagement through live chat and on-site support services shows you value your customers and encourages valuable feedback for your mobile products.
In this phase, marketing has the opportunity to drive bottom line value by leveraging communications best practices to connect with users as they work through a site, app or other mobile product. Whether communicating with new users who are looking to get the most out of a new digital product, helping experienced users reach their goals faster or introducing an unexpected new feature, working with the product team on in-product messaging not only helps drive retention, it also helps marketers become better storytellers during the product discovery phase.
Each phase plays a role
Creating a marketing plan that is aligned with mobile products across each marketing channel results in more effective and profitable campaigns. Marketing and product teams who consider the discovery, first use, and engagement phases will see these results with higher conversions and more engaged users.
You can get started now by reviewing how your current marketing initiatives compare to the first use experience with your product, then get marketing and product working together to craft an even more compelling story across each phase.
Lee Dale helps companies bring digital products to market that make a bottom line difference, ensuring that all consumer touch points in a product lifecycle meet their promise for the business and its users. As co-founder and director of product strategy at Say Yeah, Toronto’s multi-channel experience design studio, Lee delivers award winning digital products, each with a focus on driving real-world business value while engaging users in unexpectedly magical ways.