Mobile is undoubtedly the future, but as more and more brands delve into apps, location-based services, optimized websites and other mobile innovations, what’s happening to the customer experience? Is all this technology evolving faster than we can keep up? Is mobile outpacing marketing?
A new report from Econsultancy looks how mobile marketers are working to understand customers’ feelings about their on- and off-line encounters. The second annual Reducing Customer Struggle study, based on a global online survey of almost 500 business professionals working for companies involved in e-commerce and online business, found that while more than half of brands say customers regularly research their products on mobile, 36 percent rate the customer experience provided to mobile users as “poor” or “very poor.”
Marketers admitted that when customers encountered their brand via a mobile device, screen sizing issues and bad navigation were significant concerns. In fact, poor ‘findability’ is the most commonly identified and serious issue for customers on websites, with nearly two-thirds (63 percent) of companies mentioning it, up from 57 percent in 2011. How are marketers responding to these challenges? The study revealed some key trends:
Mobile On the Move
It’s a no-brainer: The future is mobile. Most companies have jumped on the bandwagon (or should I say “device wagon”), with the majority reporting they have implemented a mobile-optimized site (74 percent) or an iPhone app (54 percent). In addition, more than three-fourths of the companies surveyed (77 percent) plan to increase investment in mobile channels.
But while businesses understand the growing importance of mobile, understanding a customer’s mobile experience is proving more difficult. If your company is struggling to get a handle on the mobile user experience (complicated by the fact that different mobile devices are used in different ways), then you’re not alone. Just 18 percent of respondents described their understanding of the mobile user experience as “excellent” (3 percent) or “good” (15 percent), compared to an equivalent combined figure of 45 percent when rating the overall online experience.
Ways to Understand the Mobile Customer
More and more marketers are examining how customers use smartphones and tablets, and they’re using a variety of methods to identify issues, including:
- Information contained in customer emails (43 percent)
- Calls to the customer service teams (45 percent)
- Online feedback tools (35 percent)
- Usability testing/ heatmaps (40 percent)
- Digital experience (session) replay (57 percent)
Any one of these strategies can provide some useful information, but rather than limit yourself to only one or two, I suggest a utilizing a combination of integrated feedback appraisals. For example, if a user leaves comments on Facebook or a blog, these could be culled and then reviewed for new insights.
This sort of careful “listening” on social and mobile sites can be key way of surveying customer sentiment. Most marketers (77 percent) rate the monitoring and analysis of social data as an effective tool, even though social media analysis (45 percent) and online reputation monitoring use (40 percent) is still ramping up.
Tracking Mobile Metrics
Today’s marketers can also better understand and improve the customer experience by tracking mobile metrics. While most brands are measuring what technology is used by mobile visitors, too few are measuring behavioral differences that can be used to improve the customer experience. (What are customers searching for? When do they search? What is the click-through rate?) Survey responses showed that 88 percent of companies track traffic and devices used by mobile devices, but few are taking advantage of the opportunity to track the value of mobile visitors (43 percent), behavioral differences (24 percent) and the influence of mobile on online channels (22 percent).
Understanding Conversion Rates
Why do customers abandon their shopping cart or transaction? Why are visitors leaving the site? Most companies (83 percent) consider the reasons why customers jump ship as “very valuable” information, yet this is also where there is a lack of insight. A whopping 85 percent of companies don’t measure the difference in conversion rates between visitors who have experienced specific website issues and those who haven’t. Analyzing this customer behavior related to conversion should be tied to triggering timely and relevant communications, capitalizing on an opportunity – instead of losing customers.
Clearly, understanding the online experience is still a work-in-progress, and layering on engagement via mobile devices only adds to the challenges. Fortunately, new marketing technology can help today’s marketers automate processes, integrate approaches and gain the insights needed to create a compelling customer experience across channels.