Every year for the past few years, I've revisited our predictions for the previous year's mobile trends. It's now time to look back at what happened in 2014. Let’s have a look at some of the trends we put together a year ago with my colleague Julie Ask:
Mobile sat at the epicenter of mind-blowing exit events. Facebook’s acquisition of WhatsApp for $22 billion is the best illustration of the phenomenon. Acquiring mobile expertise and audiences is increasingly expensive. There have been numerous acquisitions – especially in the mobile analytics and advertising space (e.g Yahoo/Flurry, Millenial/Nexage, etc…). VCs increasingly invested in companies that power disruptive mobile-centric business models. Uber was valuated up to $40 billion, demonstrating the power of matching supply and demand in real-time via a best-in-class customer mobile app.
Marketing teams are expanding their use of mobile across functional, geographic, and brand boundaries, and the mobile vendor ecosystem is still fragmented and increasingly convoluted. The result? Marketing leaders are unsure about how to organize and support their growing mobile initiatives — they’re not even certain what responsibilities and talents they should allocate to mobile.
While CMOs are the primary leaders of mobile strategy among C-Suite executives, there’s rarely one clear mobile leader simply because mobile is not solely the domain of marketers. A third of marketers we interviewed still lack CMO support. While executives consider mobile as strategic, only 35% of marketers we surveyed consider they have the budget they need to support their initiatives. More often than not, we have found that marketing leaders lack mobile skills and ways to coordinate mobile across the company.
Looking down the road, the widespread adoption of mobile technologies will deliver unprecedented levels of change for marketing leaders and their teams as:
Agile approaches to marketing will become standard. To embrace the velocity and agility required to reap the benefits of the mobile world, marketing leaders will need to transform their teams’ organization and processes. Mobile’s data granularity and velocity will drive the need to constantly iterate marketing campaigns and tactics.
Mobile reached a tipping point in 2014 as it solidified its position as one of the most disruptive technologies for businesses in decades. Not since the advent of the Internet has a technology forced businesses to rethink completely how they win, serve, and retain customers.
Forrester believes that, in the future, the new competitive battleground will be the mobile moment. Why? Consumers expect to engage with brands to get any information or service they desire immediately and in context. Today, 18% of US online consumers have this expectation, while 30% are in the midst of a transition to this mobile mind shift. This revolution is taking place quickly across the globe: Forrester forecasts that 42% of the total population globally will own a smartphone by the end of 2015.
Forrester believes that, in 2015, the gap will increase between marketing leaders and eBusiness professionals who will re-engineer their business to deliver valuable mobile moments and the majority of executives who will continue to take a myopic approach by considering mobile just as another digital channel.
As the hub of our offline and online experiences, mobile interactions are a powerful catalyst for contextual marketing. The untapped opportunity in mobile for marketers will be to get an extremely granular understanding of their customers, then anticipate their expectations, and develop unique insights to power better marketing across all channels, not just mobile.
Few Marketers Make The Most Of The New Customer Data Gold Mine
Because smartphones are the hub of our offline and online experiences, they generate valuable insights for contextual data-driven marketing. However, the majority of marketers are not yet ready to exploit the convergence between mobile and big data.
Short Term: Engage Your Customers In Real Time In Their Mobile Moments
Harnessing and extracting actionable insights from this unprecedented wealth of customer data will enable marketers to serve customers in their mobile moments on a channel where they will increasingly spend the majority of their digital time.
Long Term: Power Better Marketing Initiatives Beyond The Mobile Channel
Mobile is more than simply another digital channel. Marketing leaders should combine mobile data with other sources of customer intelligence to get a deeper understanding of customers, anticipate their expectations, and act on these insights to improve all marketing initiatives.
Marketers are in love with the latest mobile “shiny object” – and with technology acronyms – NFC, AR, LTE, BLE, RWD, QR. What’s more, hype questions abound: Will beacons replace NFC? Do you believe in HTML5 or should we develop a native app? Should we build an app for Apple Watch? But most of the time, these questions are irrelevant.
The reality is, marketers are increasingly using a variety of mobile tactics and technologies – but this use is rarely sophisticated and more often than not, does not match customer behaviors.
Sophistication of consumers’ use of smartphones is climbing — without consumers even noticing it. Mobile is simply part of our daily lives and, therefore, fundamentally changes customer expectations. With mobile traffic exploding, marketers are not only underserving their best customers by delivering a poor mobile experience, but risk losing their business altogether.
It’s time for marketers to start asking questions like how their core audience is using mobile, the value that mobile is adding throughout the customer lifecycle, the experience they want to transform, and the marketing objectives they have, to name a few. And only then, begin to align the right technologies.
A year ago, I blogged about the fact that the app economy was blurring the lines and opening up new opportunities, with a lot of new entrants in the mobile space, be it with mobile CRM and analytics, store analytics, dedicated gaming analytics, etc.
Since 2010, more than 40 companies have raised about $500 million in that space! Watch it closely – consolidation will continue, as evidenced recently by Yahoo’s acquisition of Flurry.
While a lot of innovation is happening on the supply-side, too many marketers have not defined the metrics they’ll use to measure the success of their mobile initiatives. Many lack the tools they need to deeply analyze traffic and behaviors to optimize their performance.
Fifty-seven percent of marketers we surveyed do not have defined mobile objectives. For those who do, goals are not necessarily clearly defined, prioritized, and quantified. Only 38% of marketers surveyed use a mobile analytics solution! Most marketers consider mobile as a loyalty channel: a way to improve customer engagement and increase satisfaction. 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. Too many marketers focus on traffic and app downloads rather than usage and time spent. While 30% of marketers surveyed consider increasing brand awareness as a key objective for their mobile initiatives, only 16% have defined it as a key metric to measure their success!
Will the iPhone 6, to be announced on September 9, have NFC and a Sapphire Crystal display?
What about the new Samsung Galaxy Note 4, to be announced at Unpacked on September 3? And will the new Nokia Lumia 730 (a.k.a Superman), to be announced on September 4, have a 5-Megapixel rear-facing camera?
As my colleague Frank Gillett puts it, “Samsung's challenge is to establish an enduring relationship with customers, rather than being an interchangeable Android device maker – and it will take more than a new Galaxy Note to do that.”
Beacons have a great deal of disruptive potential as they bridge the digital and physical worlds. I quite like this quote from Steve Cheney, SVP at Estimote: “Beacons as a platform are really a wedge into ‘appifying’ the physical world. They give context to a physical space. They are a way of actually extending the network intelligence to the edge again, something that has been missing since the desktop era. Beacons are truly a way of giving your smartphone eyes—place dumb signs around you and let your phone discover and read them.”
Beacon technology offers new opportunities for marketers across a wide range of industries and verticals. In particular, they enable marketers to:
Engage consumers in their mobile moments via in-app interactions.
Improve the customer experience.
Understand customer behaviors by leveraging analytics.
I’ll be curious to hear if there is a business strategy update, but I don’t think we’ll have more insights on what “unbundling the big blue app” really means. I think one possible option is that social data and contextual identity will be the layer on top of Facebook’s new social conglomerate.
I personally will be looking more specifically for an update on mobile app installs. There's no doubt that Facebook has disrupted the app marketing space by becoming a key player in app discovery — which is the key driver behind its mobile ad revenues.
A growing and significant part of this business comes from direct marketers looking to drive app installs, primarily from gaming and other businesses that are increasingly dependent on mobile, such as travel and retail companies. These players know the lifetime value of their apps and have calculated how much they can spend to drive each app download and still have a positive return on investment (ROI). But marketers in more-traditional businesses or who are pursuing other marketing goals should pay close attention to the unique attributes of their mobile social users and optimize their social strategies to engage them.
According to Reuters, Japanese messaging app Line has filed for an IPO valued at over $10 billion.
No doubt the space is heating up. Competition is increasing. Facebook acquired WhatsApp for $19 billion. Japanese Internet giant Rakuten purchased Viber for $900 million. More recently, Kakao Corp (the maker of KakaoTalk, South Korea’s top messaging service and a direct competitor to Line) and Daum (one of South Korea’s largest Internet portals) announced they would merge through an equity swap, creating a company with about $2.9 billion market capitalization!
To put all this activity in perspective, I recently published a new piece of research explaining how messaging apps are morphing into new media portals and are becoming the new face of social.
WeChat is jockeying to become a global digital platform, thanks to the deep pockets of its parent company, the Chinese Internet giant Tencent. The other Chinese Internet giant, Alibaba, which recently invested $280 million in Tango, could also connect the dots between its commerce, payment, media, and social capabilities.
Soon to have 500 million registered online users, Line is definitely a key player in the space. The money to be raised will help in developing the already significant international expansion and further develop the positioning of Line as a “smartphone life platform.” The majority of the $335 million in revenue generated in 2013 came from games and about 20% from stickers — “emoticons on steroids,” as my colleague Julie Ask called them.