Basic Mobile Won’t Win. Here’s What Innovators are Doing Right


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Target CEO, Brian Cornell commented during their annual investment community meeting,” Every time we don’t deliver, we’re leaving sales on the table. By getting the fundamentals right in … technology, we … unlock tremendous potential for growth.”

The fundamental conversation regarding mobile communication with consumers needs to change. It used to be that having a mobile marketing strategy was “the non-negotiable.” However, due to consumer demand, having a personalized, tech-driven mobile presence to enhance the overall customer experience is “the new non-negotiable” that marketers need to embrace.

A bland, impersonal mobile strategy won’t cut it. Comments such as the following, from 15,000+ hours of VoC research interviews we conducted, should be a wake-up call for marketers:

  • “I want easy access to your brand any place, any time, via every means, especially via mobile.”
  • “What they consider personalization is so old-fashioned.
  • “With today’s technology, I expect the experiences to reflect my interests and preferences.”

A small company with a big personalized, mobile app idea, is home-health care firm Home Team which provides an iPad for each home with an app that the caregiver uses to track care and communicate with the family via texts, pictures and medical updates. As their web site states, “We have an iPad in every home. The caregiver uses it to plan fun activities and keep you updated on what’s happening every day. You use your mobile phone to send notes & suggestions to the caregiver because you know your parents best.”

In the Vibes 2016 Mobile Consumer Study from Amazon, it was reported that consumers are eager for their favorite brands to innovate and evolve as they do – and are willing to reward brands that do so with their loyalty and business.

And, other key points included:

  • Similar to other mobile marketing touch points, consumer demand for personalized mobile wallet content is virtually unanimous.
  • 60% of consumers say they’d increase their positive opinion of a retailer if they offered mobilized coupons and offers that could be saved to mobile devices and 62% would also have a more positive opinion of a retailer that provided digital loyalty cards

Target has been increasingly advancing its mobile capabilities to offer innovative experiences for shoppers. The retailers’ mobile commitment includes the ability to scan items’ bar codes with the Cartwheel app to determine if there is a discount available. Additionally, the Cartwheel app offers the ability to get push notifications to be alerted to merchandise with offers in a shopper’s immediate area within the store, as well as the new integration to get digital manufacture coupons within the app.

The retailer’s blog offers tips for consumers wanting to gain expert-level knowledge in mobile couponing. Plus, its mobile strategy also provides shoppers with in-store mobile maps to easily locate products. Target is also stepping into mobile wallet technology.

When discussing their mobile marketing, Jeff Jones, chief marketing officer, Target , commented, “We are on a path to transform Target and build a differentiated shopping experience that caters to our guests’ evolving expectations.”

3 Mobile Marketing TakeAways:

1. Traditional generic mobile marketing is no longer acceptable to consumers who now demand a more personalized mobile experience. Marketers need to analyze shopper behaviors to develop mobile capabilities that enhance experiences no matter where a consumer and their mobile device happen to be.

2. Mobile devices are used by consumers to simplify and consolidate life. Companies must embrace the nature of mobile to understand their customer’s usage in order to develop innovations that bring the brand more easily into daily lifestyles.

3. Mobile communication is an all-encompassing conversation that means more than a mobile version of a web or email. Marketers need to leverage technology in order to open channels for interaction and engagement.

Per research, consumers, BtoB and BtoC, are asking for deeper levels of mobile relationship with the brands they invite into their homes or workplaces. It is now up to marketers to take mobile to a higher level that taps into the remarkable opportunities, convenience and engagement which mobile provides.

Ernan Roman
Ernan Roman (@ernanroman) is president of ERDM Corp. and author of Voice of the Customer Marketing. He was inducted into the DMA Marketing Hall of Fame due to the results his VoC research-based CX strategies achieve for clients such as IBM, Microsoft, QVC, Gilt and HP. ERDM conducts deep qualitative research to help companies understand how customers articulate their feelings and expectations for high value CX and personalization. Named one of the Top 40 Digital Luminaries and one of the 100 Most Influential People in Business Marketing.


  1. For me, mobile online shopping is ALL about convenience. Something that would help me as a consumer is an app that makes shopping quicker and easier. The ones I currently have downloaded are just slow and don’t work great. If anyone can come up with something like that, it would bring in a TON of revenue.


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