Virgin America is one of the few U.S. airlines that has not released a mobile app. Yet its mobile website delivers an excellent customer experience for booking flights, the company’s primary revenue source. In contrast, American Airlines and Delta both invest heavily in their mobile applications to improve the travel experience for their most loyal customers.
Is one approach better than the other?
Mobile-centric marketers take advantage of the distinct capabilities of mobile devices and networks to engage their customers and prospects.
Not necessarily. (Mobile) marketers who choose to adapt web techniques rather than exploit unique-to-mobile capabilities are not automatically behind the innovation curve. “A successful mobile marketing strategy offers a ladder of engagement for customers and prospects to climb; they choose the rung that best suits their needs based on context,” said Charles Golvin, research director, Gartner for Marketers.
What is a mobile-centric strategy?
Mobile-centric marketers take advantage of the distinct capabilities of mobile devices and networks to engage their customers and prospects. They employ techniques that are different from, or not possible with, website marketing, such as mobile messaging and wallets.
Because they can best leverage the innate capabilities of mobile devices, native applications are an engagement priority for a mobile-centric strategy. As a result, creating, promoting and supporting the apps take precedence. Mobile-centric companies focus their mobile search and advertising on driving app downloads and enrollment.
What is a mobile-extender strategy?
In contrast to a mobile-centric strategy, the primary forms of engagement for a mobile extender strategy are adapted versions of desktop interactions via a web presence, advertising and search. For a mobile-extender, mobile does not enable a unique form of connection to customers and prospects. Instead, it extends existing connections to a different form factor (mobile devices). The primary means of customer engagement for mobile-extender companies is via their websites so they prioritize responsive, mobile-optimized sites.
The key distinction between the two types of companies lies in how marketing leaders prioritize their mobile investments. Strategies are what distinguish the two mobile marketing types, not tactics.
Determine your mobile marketing type
Mobile-centric and mobile-extender strategies represent two poles along a spectrum, not a black-and-white distinction. A mobile-centric company possesses certain attributes, such as leveraging capabilities unique to mobile devices in a way that is appropriate for its brand customers. The more of these attributes that apply to your business, the more likely it is you should adopt a mobile-centric strategy. If none of these describe your company, then you should pursue a mobile-extender strategy.
- Pure digital: Your products and services are entirely digital in nature.
- High-frequency, high-intensity engagement: Your customers engage with you at least several times per month for purchases, access to product information, engaging with customer care or through direct social interactions.
- Mobile enhances products or services: Customers who access your company’s products and/or services via a mobile device receive a superior experience through detailed location information, for example.
- High percentage of loyal customers: Known, recurring loyal customers account for a significant portion of revenue and marketing investments favor repeat purchasers.
- Simple product/service offering: Mobile is not well-suited to a complex product with interfaces that entail many options and customizations, such as a detailed car configurator.
- Strong element of timeliness and context: Products with an expiration or limited shelf life, such as concert or event tickets, lend themselves to mobile sales because customers can act quickly to purchase limited inventory.