Is Your Mobile Campaign Working?

Mobile advertising is booming. Revenues increased by 92 percent to US$19.3 billion in 2013 over 2012, based on global figures IAB, IAB Europe and IHS Technology released this summer.

More and more marketers are eager to engage with consumers on the devices they use for just about everything these days — from connecting with friends and colleagues to consuming and creating content, playing games and, of course, shopping. But are the billions of dollars now being invested in mobile advertising paying off?

By 2017, more than one-third of all people around the globe will be smartphone users, eMarketer has estimated. As mobile continues to explode, brands need to understand which marketing approaches work best and which might be falling short.

Tracking the path that ends in a consumer action — whether a sale, a registration or a download — is essential to maximizing the return on mobile marketing spend, and balancing investments across all channels. Following are four keys to measuring mobile campaign performance, successfully.

1. Track the Journey

Consumers today are exposed to marketing across a wide array of online channels — from display and search to email, social networks, video and mobile apps. It may take a combination of marketing messages across several different channels to prompt a conversion.

All too often, though, only the final click is tracked, giving an incomplete picture of which strategies had the greatest impact on the consumer’s path to purchase. It’s vital to be able to track the entire journey that leads to a conversion, as well as the specific value delivered by each connection along the way.

Called “multi-touch attribution,” this measurement approach is especially relevant for mobile campaigns, since mobile touches so many other marketing categories — from social to search, video and more. With deeper insight into the specific role mobile plays in purchase decisions, marketers can make more nuanced decisions about how to allocate their spend.

2. Look at Engagement

Conversions are great, right? Sure, but not all are equal in value, especially in the mobile arena where an app download is often counted as “success.” An installation doesn’t mean much if the app doesn’t get used thereafter.

Engagement — in other words, how people are interacting with your app — is the metric that really counts. Tracking events like logins, app usage and additional purchases can give mobile marketers a deeper picture of the total lifetime value of customers that convert.

Thus, analyzing what happens after the download — or in the case of other types of mobile campaigns, after the final click — is another key to optimize the performance and profitability of mobile marketing efforts.

3. Enlist Help

Every news cycle brings a new wrinkle to the mobile marketing story, from announcements like Facebook’s Audience Network to big players like Apple, Google, Alibaba and possibly PayPal jumping into the mobile payments game.

This ongoing evolution, combined with frequently changing guidelines around data usage and privacy, adds a great deal of complexity to mobile campaign analysis. This can be frustrating for app developers, advertisers, affiliate networks and other marketing stakeholders, as the goalposts for what needs to be tracked — and what can be tracked — keep moving.

Rather than attempting to go it alone, consider working with a measurement partner whose job it is to keep up with all the technical innovation and changing requirements around mobile data tracking and analysis. Outsourcing measurement alleviates the burden of having to manage all the complexities of tracking in-house, freeing up resources for marketers to focus on creative and compelling campaigns.

4. Don’t Be Passive

From a technical perspective, the way mobile tracking is activated is also an important consideration. Most analytics platforms employ passive tracking methods that detect mobile users after they arrive on a landing page. From there, a passive tracking tag (typically JavaScript) will be launched in an attempt to capture various details — browsing history, for example, or type of device.

The challenge with this tracking method is the inability to immediately take action. Active tracking works by utilizing special tracking links that are hard coded into campaign creative. A consumer who clicks on an ad embedded with an active tracking link can be directed to a landing page that is appropriately matched to the individual’s demographics, purchase history, device used, interests, etc.

Since this method allows marketers to make changes in real-time, revenue-impacting decisions can be implemented in minutes to achieve greater ROI quickly and effectively.

Embrace the Challenge

Tracking mobile marketing performance can be challenging, especially as this dynamic channel continues to mature.

Marketers need be able to find trusted partners and analytic solutions that can help them keep up with changing data requirements and accurately measure how mobile strategies are impacting the end-to-end customer journey, driving ongoing engagement, and contributing to the long-term value of their business.

Santi Pierini is the president of Cake, a provider of SaaS-based solutions that track, attribute and optimize the performance of digital marketing spend in real-time.

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