Mobile Killed the Marketing Funnel — Now What?
Mobile has completely changed the shopping experience. You can find and purchase exactly what you want, when you want it — anywhere on Earth — in just a few taps.
Improvements in logistics and omnichannel initiatives like click-and-collect turn old assumptions inside out. Now, if you think of something you want or need in the middle of a conversation, you just take out your phone and purchase it.
Ninety percent of shoppers use smartphones to compare products online while they’re in stores. Price checks ease fears of paying more for products that could be had for less elsewhere. Shoppers also use social sites and snap selfies to glean opinions about intended purchases. No matter the reason, the change in how people shop has done a number on the marketing funnel.
In the past year, we saw a 29 percent increase in mobile purchases credited to social media. That means shoppers referred to e-commerce sites from social media arrive somewhere in the middle or near the bottom of marketing funnels.
What’s more, consumers frequently do unbranded searches (e.g., “vacuum cleaner” or “men’s shirts”), and then must reverse course to learn more about a brand's offerings. If they don’t find the desired information (or experience) on your brand's site, they’ll browse elsewhere.
With only moments to engage them, how can retailers best market to consumers with no clear or direct path to a sale? Consider the following four tips:
1. Leverage push to reach customers with timely and relevant messages. Web or native push notifications offer retailers a way to start a conversation with mobile consumers by letting them know an item of interest is on sale or a package is on its way. In iOS 8 and Google Chrome, push notifications can be interactive, giving your customers the opportunity to add items directly to their carts or complete abandoned purchases with one click.
Take Carnival, for example. Push is essential to the cruise line’s “Courtesy Holds” campaign, where customers can hold bookings for 24 hours without payment. Push not only provides convenience, but it also improves engagement, doing wonders for conversion rates.
2. Monetize chat. The conversational commerce phenomenon started in Asia with WeChat, and it’s now jumped to North America. Facebook, Microsoft and Kik are all developing chatbot services to tap into the ever-growing mobile user base.
H&M, Vine and Sephora have all launched on the Kik platform to engage consumers on a personal level. Facebook has turned the buzz into a roar — Uber, Everlane and Zulily all use the Facebook Messenger platform for chat commerce.
3. Personalize content to connect with customers. Build-on campaigns run through push, chat, email or paid search by echoing targeted messages when consumers arrive on your site. To connect with those consumers, make your message compelling. For example, if a shopper receives notification that a product is back in stock, don’t just dump her on that product page; welcome her back and share something personal.
4. Be "searchable" enough for clients to find you. Consumers don’t think in terms of channels; they just expect you to “be there” whenever and wherever they need you. To remain viable, do everything possible to show up in search, the App Store and other channels where your customers expect you to be.
Uber epitomizes the concept of “being everywhere.” You can schedule rides through its app or through numerous other channels and devices, such as Messenger, Slack, Outlook, Apple Watch and Microsoft Band 2. You can even price an Uber ride via Google Maps.
Though marketing funnels have all but disappeared, retailers can create novel avenues to sales. Using push in tandem with chat and personalizing messages helps engage consumers and is one of the most effective ways of cutting through the noise in the mobile space.
Peter McLachlan is co-founder and chief product officer at Mobify, a mobile shopping platform that helps enterprise retailers create unique shopping experiences at every mobile touchpoint.