As most of us are well aware, mobile isn’t so much changing the world as sitting back in its chair congratulating itself on a job well done. Consumer habits have been changed utterly by the rise of the smartphone, to the extent that according to eMarketer research the average adult in the USA spends 3.1 hours of each day on their phone, and most of that time in apps. And those of us with teenage children are probably pinching ourselves in disbelief that that number isn’t significantly higher.

For brands, and more specifically the people who are responsible for communicating on their behalf, all this matters a lot. At this point I could write long screeds about exactly why, but ultimately it all boils down to two very simple and easy to understand facts:

  • The actions that consumers take, from which we learn about their tastes and preferences, now take place primarily on mobile.
  • Consumers carry around with them a personal digital device that is the single best way to communicate with them.

And whilst mobile may indeed have changed the world, the world of marketing is struggling to catch up.

That is simple enough to understand, but it changes fundamentally the nature of the digital marketing challenge, or indeed the marketing challenge full-stop. And whilst mobile may indeed have changed the world, the world of marketing is struggling to catch up.

The Marketing Cloud: Where We Stand Today

Many moons ago marketing was easy, mainly because nobody could figure out that most of it didn’t work. Things moved on, of course, but only so far. We now have a greater understanding of what works and what doesn’t, but still struggle to deliver real engagement with consumers – and a lot of that is to do with the rise of the smartphone. Again, there are probably two main factors at play.

Firstly, the smartphone is just the latest development in an ongoing trend in which the individual has greater control of the conversation. Historically, marketing was based on interruption. The company found out what TV program you liked to watch, and inserted an advert in the middle of it. More scientifically, they might discover which newspaper people more likely to buy their product would read – and then interrupt their enjoyment of that newspaper with print advertising. And crucially, there was very little the consumer could do.

Things are very different today. In the modern digital world, consumers tend to order up their entertainment, edification and other services as they require them. Interruption in that context is more aggressive and less effective. The techniques that marketers are used to are in danger of becoming not just ineffective, but actually damaging to the brand.

The techniques that marketers are used to are in danger of becoming not just ineffective, but actually damaging to the brand.

Secondly, most organizations simply don’t have the skills, experience and technology to deliver compelling campaigns in the native mobile environment. We have an infrastructure and mindset that was first built for broadcast and considers email to be about the limit of sophistication. And when most of our customers are on mobile, that’s a real problem. In many cases, it’s not so much that we want to communicate via native mobile but can’t, but more that it never enters our heads. Why would it, when we’ve spent the rest of our lives in other channels?

Before bringing mobile into the marketing cloud, some of those attitudes will inevitably have to change. Let’s talk about how to make that happen.

The Marketing Cloud: What Happens Next

Before going further, something needs to be stated loud and clear. Many of these existing systems, approaches, technologies and so on do an extremely good job. Just because the ‘old ways’ of broadcast marketing don’t necessarily work, doesn’t mean that the general approaches and strategies that have characterized good marketing since forever are suddenly out of fashion.

Nothing could be further from the truth. It would be foolish in the extreme to believe that changing technologies render irrelevant the need to understand the audience, think clearly about how to communicate with them, and carefully measure success or failure.

Similarly, much of the technical infrastructure in place remains very much fit for purpose. At Swrve, we know this because we work alongside a large number of marketing automation solutions. The one message we hear consistently from our enterprise clients? “Please don’t make me remove or rebuild existing, working infrastructure”. So in a whole range of areas, there are working solutions in place that handle a huge amount of valuable work.

The one thing that is missing, at least in some cases – is mobile.

The point is relatively straightforward. In an ideal world, mobile doesn’t replace the marketing cloud – it extends it. In most cases, what is in place can and should be retained. That includes broader marketing automation platforms, orchestration engines (into which mobile campaigns can now be plugged) and best-of-breed solutions in areas such as email.

In an ideal world mobile doesn’t replace the marketing cloud – it extends it

The result is bringing native mobile into the heart of the marketing ecosystem, with minimum disruption and maximum ROI.