For all the talk of operating system fragmentation becoming a development burden in the mobile space (and it is a big issue), I’d argue that another type of fragmentation poses an even greater challenge for marketers looking to intelligently explore and evolve their mobile programming options
Welcome to the age of customer fragmentation.
Customer fragmentation for mobile, as I define it, has both a ‘macro’ and ‘micro’ definition. At the macro level it concerns how a marketer’s target audience is rarely neatly confined to a single device family or operating system. Marketers will have customers that use iPhones, Android devices, Blackberries and so on. Investment decisions need to be made about which platforms and device features offer the optimal mix of reach, experience and response.
At the macro level, there’s also the issue of distinguishing between Smartphone users and non-Smartphone users and whether SMS (for example) would prove to be a more effective channel than a native application.
However, it’s at the micro level that added wrinkles place emphasis on smart customer persona definition and segmentation activities that should be a part of any thorough and thoughtful marketing exercise.
Even within broad segments such as ‘iPhone users’, there are nuances in how device features are used by individual consumers. Massive app download numbers may suggest that everyone is an app user, but how is that overall trend distributed among ‘gamers’, ‘productivity fiends’, ‘social networkers’, and ‘brand loyalists’?
The same can be said for Blackberry users. Deep enterprise penetration means a strong core of white collar email power users, but Blackberry has also been gaining traction among younger audiences who are addicted to the Blackberry instant messaging client.
Of course, then you need to consider how SMS, LBS service and camera use may be distributed among your customers by age, geography or demographic profiles. And perhaps the mobile web is the better choice given any number of reasons from development costs to how customers interact with your existing brand assets.
Before hands get thrown up in frustration, it’s worth noting that the costs and time required for smart customer profiling and segmentation will be recouped many times over as you create a foundation for value-laden programming that delivers genuine and recurring utility.
Here are 5 tips for effectively addressing customer fragmentation:
Use existing assets to gather direct-from-customer data
You already probably have a website, an email list, a bricks and mortar location and so on. Use these as vehicles for asking questions and gathering observations about how your customers want to be engaged via mobile.
Mine existing 3rd party research and validate against existing customer profiles
Market research firms are perpetually pumping out reports on various consumer habits, preferences and activities. Publishers, ad networks and industry associations routinely trumpet audience data. Take advantage.
Be thorough with competitive analysis and extract learning from in-market examples
Case studies abound. Most brand apps are free for you to download and pick apart user experiences. Nearly every phone has a browser and SMS campaigns are easy to enter. Put some thumbs to phone and discover what works and what doesn’t.
Analytics, Analytics, Analytics
Your website’s analytics package should tell you what mobile devices and operating systems are hitting your site. There will be some. How do those results index against wired web norms? Tools like MapInfo (Disclosure: a sister company of my employer Digital Cement) offer deep postal code level data on consumer behaviour and preferences.
Pilot programs with lower barriers to entry to gain deeper insights
Perhaps my most important recommendation is ‘try stuff’. You can’t beat running a real world campaign for actionable insight. Mobile advertising and mobile search are a good way to start and developing a mobile landing page can be very cost effective. Create mobile friendly versions of your email campaigns. Most SMS providers offer the use of shared short codes to help minimize start up costs.
If you find yourself thinking I’m not saying anything new, perfect. You have the right orientation for maximizing mobile marketing returns. If your agency is recommending a mobile program without this kind of leg work or justification….well, you know.
The velocity with which consumers are integrating mobile into their lives is only slightly ahead of their expectation to be able to get what they want, when they want it on the device. Your customers will want to find you there if they don’t already.
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