Mobile Still Seeking Its Spot in Marketing Groups

We’re still seeing all sorts of configurations for where mobile marketing, as a function, should sit in an organization. One organizational reflex is to place it in the digital marketing department. Another is to house mobile with the advertising group, or perhaps the CRM team or sadly in its own silo debating the merits of iOS vs. Android with itself. Still others have simply punted mobile to their agency for lack of organizational commitment to the place where most of today’s eyeballs spend their time.

Part of the challenge is vocabulary. When people say mobile marketing they could be referring to mobile advertising or mobile CRM, but seldom do they specify. We’ve found it very useful to qualify the beginning of every mobile marketing conversation into one of two paths as the starting point, mobile CRM or mobile advertising. And to be clear, these should not be mutually exclusive topics, and I’ll show you how these two functions can be tied together in a little bit. But it’s critical to know from where the conversation around mobile marketing is starting.

So, starting with mobile CRM, here are a couple of organizational configurations we’ve seen that seem to be working and sustainable. One prominent client who sends over 100 million text messages a year decided that the email marketing team should adopt the mobile CRM function to keep the combination, cadence and sequence of those interactive platforms well-choreographed and consistent in their messaging. There are very similar operational disciplines between mobile marketing and email marketing as it relates to campaign prep, quality assurance, test design, performance measurements, etc. But don’t be fooled that they are completely the same. Mobile has the dimensions of time and space that previous marketing channels didn’t have to consider. I know the dimensions of time and space sounds kind of Star Treky, but they add critical consideration to campaign planning and choreography. Plus, the penetration of smartphones where people can more gracefully access their emails brings these two disciplines even closer.

But the next level of mobile marketing maturity brings mobile CRM closer to the center of the direct customer marketing operations. This has led companies to set up a configuration where mobile CRM, email, and direct mail share a brain. Specifically, each of those direct-to-consumer channels have best-of-breed campaign management tools sitting on top of the same marketing database. There is still channel specific expertise directing and executing the mobile, email, and direct mail campaign, but now each channel has consciousness of the other and can make purposeful decisions about the combination, cadence, and sequence of consumer communications, rather than the pachinko machine of marketing BBs bumping into the same customer.

Because of the aforementioned organizational hurdles, it’s rare that the decision-making for mobile advertising targeting is synchronized with the mobile CRM team’s plans and the intelligence around the mobile CRM customer. Yet on the surface, it sounds crazy to say, “I have lots of detailed information about the characteristics of the people who prefer engaging with my brand via the mobile channel, but I’m definitely not going to use that part of my brain when I spend money to target mobile advertising.” So let’s make this rational. These are historically two different departments, so in order for this to work operationally, both departments must feel like they’re getting value from working together.

The first Mobile Advertising handshake with Mobile CRM takes place on the front-end of the campaign planning.

The trick to all of this is to recognize that there is a common denominator at the center of mobile marketing, whether you’re talking about mobile advertising or mobile CRM. Regardless of your current organizational configuration the common denominator for everyone is the consumer. The successful mobile marketer will use a consistent consumer data framework across the enterprise so that all departments learn from each other about what works and so that the brand experience with the consumer in the mobile channel is relevant, valuable, and profitable.


Josh Herman is multichannel marketing innovation leader of Acxiom, a marketing services and technology company.

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