Op-Ed: Mobile ‘Show Rooming’ is the Norm

OpEd Mobile 'Show Rooming' is the NormThe following is a guest contributed post from Noah Jessop, the Head of Data for Liquid.

2015 marked a tipping point, where numerous companies (from small eCommerce to Google) reported that the mass majority of action is happening on mobile devices.

But there is a catch: purchase size. While it’s becoming the norm to do research, price comparison, and purchase through mobile, IBM data noted that overall purchase rate on mobile was much lower than traffic driven on Black Friday 2015. Great for impulse buys—but bigger ticket items might still require a slightly larger screen or an in-person visit to finalize.

What’s this mean for the savvy marketer? Tying together intent coming from your customers on mobile—and using it to shape your emails, promotions, and targeting—is more important than ever. From the tech side, it can be a challenge to connect all the dots, which involves tying a non-logged-in mobile cookie back to a central user profile. But tactics exist—and 2016 is the year that will start to show big differentiation for firms that adapt.

CRM and Media Worlds Collide

Much has been written about the collision of “Marketing Tech” and “Ad Tech” (coined “Madtech”), but we won’t dwell on the specifics of the technology platform. Historically, firms have separated media and customer acquisition budgets from the team that manages CRM—or, more broadly, the programs to engage, upsell, and delight existing customers. But all that is changing, fast.

An anecdotal account: a colleague’s mother was shopping for a dress to attend a wedding. She wanted to show her daughter the dress before purchasing, and to do so, she simply navigated to her favorite homepage. “What store was it from?” the daughter inquired. “Just wait…it will be here in just a second.” A moment later, an ad with the exact dress reappeared, and off they went.

As media gets more tailored, it becomes a key part of our digital experiences.

Email, a mainstay of CRM teams, is a tremendously powerful (and relatively low-cost) tool when used properly. But you can only add so many new campaigns, mailing times, and trigger emails before the signal to noise ratio becomes too low for some customers. Thus, the turn to media.

The first step was simple retargeting—whether provided as a percentage of media spend at very high ROI, or on a commission basis for sales. While effective from a numbers basis, many lament the shoes (or other shopping whims) that seem to endlessly follow them around the web.

But now, data about your customers can be quickly tied to systems to buy, personalize, and deliver media. 2016 is the year that it becomes best practice to tie CRM strategy to judicious use of media—and find new ways to engage customers, ultimately bringing them back to the register.

Deep Linking Will Become Standard

Remember when some merchants didn’t have mobile optimized sites? Pretty soon, anyone left coming to the party without seamless integrations from their advertising, marketing emails, and other customer channels will open a chasm too large for most consumers to cross. When all of the world’s goods are just a tap away, any merchant that doesn’t minimize friction the way the big boys do will be left behind.

There are now a number of vendors providing various offerings to bootstrap your deep linking efforts—whether driving app installs, first time experience, advertisement link destination, or otherwise: URX, Deeplink.me, Branch.io, Yozio, Appsflyer, and others.

Top apps to look at for inspiration? Redfin and Amazon. Try their ads, marketing emails, and affiliate links around the web—with app installed, uninstalled, mobile cookies cleared, and otherwise to see how seamless this can be.

“Discovery”: Dangerous Waters Ahead

There’s a bitter fight going on for the home screen. It’s about to get muddier than ever. The explosion of such apps as Wish (and, to a lesser extent, Wanelo, The Fancy, and others) proves customer appetite for great shopping experiences on mobile. The question remains: just how many shopping related apps will a customer install? And how many will she remember to use regularly?

Gilt’s reported acquisition by Hudson’s Bay poses another question: what happens when the curated content discovery platforms just become extensions of one merchant?

So, ask yourself in 2016: does our app (or mobile experience) really provide something that consumers need and want? Or is it driven by our own aspirations to have a mobile and digital storefront?

Platforms: One Eye Open

We must never forget the power for platforms to drive distribution and attention. As a basic example: a startling percentage of Facebook’s traffic comes from the Google query “facebook login.”

For savvy marketers, that means keeping a close eye on how the giants move—and quickly testing and evaluating new channels.

Two trends to watch:

1) Integrated platforms

Just as the WeChats of the East have built entire portals within single applications, 2016 will be the year that many people try to replicate this success in the US market. Whether it’s Facebook’s neatly integrated commerce experience with Everlane or Uber’s same day Rush delivery pilots, watch this space closely.

Sometimes the biggest moves are the quiet ones—even noted by a former Facebook exec—so when typing “W” in Facebook’s search bar automatically suggests “Walmart” and not “Will,” take note.

2) AI Helpers

There are a bunch of them: Facebook M, Alfred, Magic, Operator. But the thread is universal: maybe the storefront of the future is the one that tells you exactly what to buy. Just as we see slimmed down product line companies taking mindshare—Casper Mattresses is an easy example—maybe our mobile store of the future isn’t an endless feed of tiny photos, but a system that knows your body shape, your shoe size—and shows you just what you need.

By the end of 2016, we’ll see what a number of these efforts look like—and either an interesting forerunner or a lack of success.