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Mobile is key for brands to achieve message convergence

Message convergence is the answer to the problems caused by the proliferation of devices and messaging channels, and mobile is the glue connecting it all, according to a report by The Relevancy Group and Message Systems.

Device convergence accompanied by a heightened sense of consumer empowerment has underscored brands need for message convergence. But achieving the promise of message convergence is about more than the technology?systemic changes are needed for companies to make best use of technology in enhancing the quality of their customer interactions.

?Companies must begin to operationally change the way they communicate with customers, as most are still mired in silos, measurement across channels is not aligned and the timing of message execution not coordinated,? said David Daniels, CEO of the Relevancy Group, Spring Lake, NJ.

?Brands must think through the value proposition and content of their messaging, as well as how they measure how consumers are responding to calls-to-action in mobile channels versus emails read on PCs,? he said.

?Message convergence means customer-centric communication is paramount.?

Unified messaging
Consumers see the enterprise as one brand, because they are able to access messages via various channels. They always have their mobile device, and they see each brand as a single entity, no matter where they read its messaging.

In the mobile arena, Mr. Daniels said that he is not seeing too many companies leveraging mobile as an opt-in tool or as a way to further their email communications.

While breaking alerts' localized calls-to-action lend themselves more to mobile, and white papers may lend themselves more to email promotion and online ads, savvy use of all channels helps brands achieve a sum that it greater than the individual parts.
?For many brands, there is not necessarily a tie-in between the various media,? Mr. Daniels said. ?If I?m not deploying those messages holistically across all channels, I?m not sure which channel deserves credit for driving those clicks and that interaction, and which channel is the best way to communicate with that consumer in a personalized manner.

?With message convergence, brands must adapt their content and style, as well as how they are formatting their messages, so that it is optimized regardless of channel,? he said. ?It is also important to get to the point immediately.

?People are triaging their email accounts on mobile devices, so brands must figure out which channels and messages are resonating best with consumers.?

Changed consumer communication behavior
Consumers have been presented with an increasing number of channel communication and device choices that have further amplified their desire for instant gratification.

The ability of consumers to multi-task throughout their time-starved day has heightened their attention deficit disorder towards marketing and increased their desire for efficiency.

Further, their ability to bring together messages of different types?email, SMS, MMS, IM, social?onto a tethered or mobile portal, or through a singular device or application has created the mystique of message convergence for consumers.

?We?re looking at fundamental changes in the way that consumers communicate,? said Dave Lewis, chief marketing officer of Message Systems, San Francisco. ?It?s not just a matter of the devices they?re using, or that their inboxes may be unified, but the very nature of communication is changing digitally?individualized, real-time, multichannel and ultimately converged.

?Enterprises are seriously lagging behind these changes in consumers? communication behavior, and they fundamentally need to respond in a meaningful way in order to stay connected,? he said.

?We see message convergence as an essential strategy, something that the industry really needs to come to grips with, as it is the only way to stay connected with customers wherever they are.?

Mr. Lewis said that it is a jarring juxtaposition to look at consumer behavior compared to how enterprises are currently deploying their communication tactics.

Many brands separate channels within business units, which fosters a fragmented view of the customer and a fragmented response in terms of communication.

Conversations may be initiated in email, flow into SMS or IM, then back into email or to the Web to facilitate a transaction.

Whatever the messaging path, brands have to figure out how to communicate with consumers across channels, as consumers are constantly moving from one channel to another.

?There has to be a fundamental change in how enterprises manage communications,? Mr. Lewis said. ?They have to think in terms of managing communication flow across channels?they need to foster cooperation and coordination between channels, rather than competition between channels.

?It boils down to knowing your customer, which is easy to say, but hard to actually achieve,? he said. ?So many times you see the data scattered all over the enterprise?you need to be able to link it together."

Mr. Lewis said it is important that enterprises realize that there is significant risk to not responding to these trends.

Brands may actually lose access to their customers and lose the ability to stay connected with them across channels and follow them across these channels, which has serious bottom-line implications

?Message convergence is not an optional strategy?it is the only viable strategy for enterprises to stay connected with their customers,? Mr. Lewis said. ?Those that do, stand to gain great market share, and those that do not, will suffer the consequences.?

Final Take
Message Central