Marketers: You Can't Just Dump Your Company Website On To The Mobile Web

smartphone, cell phone, train, lost phone

Photo: Flickr / Chris JL

Everyone agrees that mobile matters for marketers. Any channel that’s accessible to consumers everywhere they go, every minute of the day, demands to be taken seriously. When it comes to strategy, though, the consensus is less clear.Fewer and fewer companies still believe that you can just dump your desktop site onto the mobile web, thankfully—but many other myths continue to confuse marketers, confounding their attempts to optimise their mobile initiatives.

Don’t be fooled by these common misconceptions. By separating fact from fiction, you can make the most of your mobile marketing investments. 

Myth 1: Rebuilding your xHTML site in HTML5 is an optimization

HTML5 is a standard—not a strategy. As big brands embrace HTML5 for mobile web development, they need to make sure they’re using it to create an optimised experience that goes beyond cool tricks. The automotive industry was early to show the power of HTML5, using capabilities like GPS and swipe-able transitions to bring alive the powerful imagery that makes buyers fall in love with a vehicle.

This year, they’re focused on generating real ROI—in other words, leads. If that cool transition screen doesn’t take users directly to a request-a-quote or find-a-dealer page, or if oversized assets make it take forever to load, it’s still not good enough. Companies like Toyota and Ford have converted their initial mobile sites into conversion engines where a unique experience drives users to actionable events that are tracked and optimised.

Myth 2: Mobile advertising only drives more site visits, not real engagement

Sure, you can run ads that simply direct visitors to your mobile site—but it won’t do you much good. Tablets aside, people generally use mobile devices to consume content in small bites, not long sessions—and they rarely use them to wander through page after page of even the most attractive mobile site. To create real engagement, you need to drive people quickly and conveniently to an experience that produces a specific outcome.

For example, instead of running “30% off!” ads that take users to your mobile home page, take them directly to a mobile landing page listing the top items for the season with a buy-now call-to-action. By thinking in terms of deep engagement and specific actions, retailers can focus more effectively on ads that generate post-click conversions—not just clicks—and improve their mobile marketing ROI. 

Myth 3: Purchases are the only important metric

For retailers, purchases are the ultimate measure of success, but they’re not the only mobile activity that matters. Watching videos, browsing images, searching for retail locations, reading reviews, sharing with social networks—these may be “softer” metrics, but they’re still essential for creating brand awareness and purchase intent.

Just as elsewhere in the digital marketing landscape, the key in mobile is getting the consumer to engage with the brand in a positive and complete manner. So don’t sell a mobile interaction short just because it doesn’t immediately lead to a purchase. The longer-term impact may be just as valuable. 

Myth 4: You cannot optimise an SMS campaign

Of course you can. In fact, SMS is by far the easiest type of mobile campaign to optimise. All you need to do is make sure you have the right metrics at your fingertips, such as opt-ins/opt-outs by channel and messages sent, as well as the click-through rate on specific links. Just as in email and advertising, A/B testing will help you zero in on the most effective execution to achieve your goals.

You can even segment your mobile subscriber base the same way as any customer databases by using information gathered during the opt-in process or linking mobile numbers in your existing CRM solution. Ultimately, the best approach is to keep it simple: personalise the message, set the tone with key phrases, and demonstrate clear value to the customer. There’s a lot you can do in 160 characters—don’t settle for less than your best.

Myth 5: Rich Media ads always convert more than static banner ads

While rich media ads can be very engaging, engagement isn’t always the same thing as conversion. For example, if the KPI for a campaign is purchases, the goal should be to drive people to your actual mobile site, where purchases are likely to be higher than they would be within an ad unit. In this case, a static banner ad designed for click-throughs will be more effective than a rich media ad designed for engagement.

If the metric is to generate engagement in a branded game or image gallery, on the other hand, then a rich media ad unit is the way to go. It all comes down to selecting the right MIR (Media – Interaction – Results) path for your campaign’s KPI.

As mobile continues to grow in importance for marketers, you can’t afford to rely on received wisdom and offhand assumptions about its role in your strategy.

By taking the time to understand the unique capabilities, metrics, optimizations, and best practices that can unlock its full potential, you can improve your mobile marketing ROI while driving the outcomes that matter most for your business. 

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