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Why brands must have a 360-degree mobile Web strategy

A 360-degree mobile Web strategy spans far beyond just a mobile-optimized site and means that brands need to tie mobile to their traditional marketing.

For example, email campaigns are generating a lot of conversion traffic for sites. Including a URL to a mobile site will factor in mobile email users and provide them with a better experience than just throwing them onto a wired Web site on their device.

?We have found that the No. 1 source of conversion traffic is email,? said Jason Taylor, vice president of mobile products at Usablenet, New York. ?It is very important that clients leverage that in mobile.

?We make sure that our clients route mobile users to the mobile version of the click-though URL for the best possible experience,? he said. ?That is very important, as a large number of people are getting their emails on their mobile phones.

?So when they click they need to go on the mobile version of the page that is being marketed in the email campaign. Tracking this action is important to the client.?

Traditional
Search engine optimization ? being ranked first by Google and Yahoo ? is another top source of conversion traffic.

It is important that a site recognize whether a consumer is coming from a mobile phone or the wired Web when clicking on the search result. Serving up a wired Web site to a mobile user is not the best possible experience.

Affiliate programs also serve as a large source of conversion traffic. However, it depends on the type of brand. Retail and travel companies are really the largest users of affiliate marketing.

"Extending a Web site?s business rules should be a prominent part of a mobile Web strategy,? Mr. Taylor said. ?Most people want to start a new mobile strategy using SMS.

?We tell them that a complete mobile Web strategy means tying in your traditional mediums with your mobile strategy,? he said.

Applications
According to Ran Farmer, managing director of Netbiscuits, Washington, it is important that brands identify the mobile use cases of their content or service and design mobile solutions accordingly.

Understand mobile devices ? smaller form factors, touch screens, voice and location capabilities ? as well as mobile user scenarios ? places, times and situations other than at the office or at home.

Set up a mobile Web site first to give users immediate access to brand content and services from any Web-enabled mobile device worldwide.

Go 360-degree mobile and add applications into the mix as their platforms show relevance in the stats that mobile Web portals generate.

?Connect and integrate your other distribution and communication channels with your mobile solutions to secure a seamless experience,? Mr. Farmer said. ?Take advantage of the unique user-generated content opportunities that mobile offers, including video, voice and location.?

Companies should not rely only on applications for their mobile strategy. Additionally, screen-scraping should not be relied on for setting up a mobile Web site.

?Do not misunderstand mobile to be the little brother of the PC Web,? Mr. Farmer said. ?Mobile will very soon be much bigger than the PC Web.?

Advertising
Mobile advertising is becoming a major driver of mobile Web site traffic, with brands like Ford and Lexus using mobile ads to get consumers to their mobile Web site destinations.

But for a true 360-degree strategy for mobile Web advertising, banners need to appear both in applications and on sites.

Mobile-specific creative is key since it is a different platform and users are in a different mind frame than when they are in front of their PCs.

?I think it is important to address the entire mobile ecosystem,? said Tom Foran, chief revenue officer of Crisp Wireless, New York. ?That means looking at the mobile application and the mobile Web world and also looking at tablets like the iPad and smartphone devices.

?Make mobile a part of every campaign and drive people to your site that way,? he said. ?Look at it as the way to make it relevant to the mobile consumer.?

Mr. Foran stressed that mobile is not just about applications, although that is what many brands seem to think.

There is a growing trend that is moving mobile advertising away from the mobile microsite.

A lot of brands are now letting the ad unit do the work.

?There is a lot more that the ad unit itself can do in terms of user engagement,? Mr. Foran said.

?A lot of functionality can be built into the ad, which allows the brand to not have to tear consumers out of their viewing experience on the mobile Web,? he said. ?They engage the user and respect the users? content experience.?

A mobile strategy should thread through all avenues of marketing that are existing already within a company and should not be a separate entity, according to Marci Troutman, CEO of Siteminis, Atlanta. 

Mobile becomes an additional marketing channel threading though and linking to all existing channels, i.e., store signage, electronic media, print media, Internet and store associate training.

Ms. Troutman said that key components to a 360-degree mobile Web strategy include:

 ? A clear and concise SMS/email campaign strategy with links through to a functional, brand-friendly mobile site that will be able to engage the customers in an action at the point of contact;

? An application strategy with a hybrid mobile Web functional site allowing the customer to transact within the application while staying in the application and using the functionality of the more robust, transactional mobile Web that is essential to gaining customers through the SMS/email campaign strategies;

? Using a proper URL for security, safety and ease of use for the customer without concern.

?Companies should not treat mobile as an added ?extra? of their Internet strategy,? Ms. Troutman said. ?The mobile Web should be thought of the same way as the PC Internet, not static, but just as important, with continual updates, coupons, deals and through-put to an action for sales. 

?The mobile strategy is a real-time marketing and sales avenue that customers are using now and should be treated as such,? she said. 

Siteminis? clients are interested in affiliate marketing via mobile. 

?It depends on your mobile strategy, and yes, it does differ by sector,? Ms. Troutman said. ?For example, clients are interested in potential affiliate marketing on mobile, and the use of affiliates will be better determined as mobile site density grows.?