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Finding Smart Data in Big Data: Lessons from Mobile FirstLook 2013

By Valerie Williamson

A few weeks ago, I went to Mobile Marketer?s Mobile FirstLook: Strategy 2013 conference where I listened to some very smart people talk about where smart companies are going in terms of mobile marketing.

And from what I heard at the event, it looks like Big Data, one of the most-discussed topics of 2012, is going to keep the marketing pundits talking and typing this year as well, especially about its relationship to mobile.

Big deal
The connection between Big Data, mobile and customer engagement is more important than ever ? and it is encouraging to see that companies really get this.

Several major brands, including Sephora, Citi and JetBlue, drove home the point that turning all that data into actionable insights is key to getting a clear customer picture and top value from mobile campaigns.

For example, global cosmetics retailer Sephora said that, during the 2012 holiday season, mobile orders were up 167 percent compared to 2011 and mobile Web traffic was up 75 percent.

What is more, 70 percent of customers used their devices in-store to compare prices and research products.

All this activity generates a mountain of data that is only going to grow: the retailer?s director of mobile and digital store marketing, Johnna Marcus, said the company?s priority in 2013 will be to ?evolve its mobile capabilities.?

Hiding in all that data is a snapshot of each customer. And action analytics techniques such as A/B split testing and retargeting of messages can make those snapshots stand out.

Citi awakes to new reality
As Richard Char, Citi?s global head of digital networks and retail, pointed out at Mobile FirstLook, almost any event in customers? lives presents opportunities for marketers to get to know those customers better.

That includes ?life events? (getting married or divorced, having a baby or graduating from college), ?infrequently occurring events? (changing jobs or homes or starting a business) and ?transitional and daily activity? (spending on car repairs, on environmentally-conscious companies or on technology).

Increasingly, the transactions involved in these life events are being made on mobile. And mobile consumers want to receive messaging that is, above all, relevant and timely.

Mr. Char used email marketing, in general, as an example of why it is necessary to target individual customers.

Too often improperly targeted email amounts to spam, which means open rates and opt-ins will be low to non-existent.

The same applies to mobile email marketing. Turned-off consumers would probably give following reasons for booting a brand from their devices, according to Mr. Char:

? I?m busy with something else and can?t be bothered;

? The offers I?m getting are irrelevant to me and too much trouble to act on;

? I don?t think email is the right way to engage me as a consumer;

? The messaging does nothing to empower me.

Whether we are talking about email, push notifications or SMS, untargeted messaging can frustrate and annoy ? defeating the whole purpose of marketing on mobile. 

That is why combining customer data with actionable analytics is absolutely essential if mobile marketers want to drive engagement and ROI.

CONSUMERS ARE more brand-fickle than ever before. A marketer who does not get targeting right risks losing customers? attention ? and their dollars.

Relevance is crucial to customer retention and, ultimately, revenues.

The conference made it crystal-clear where the future lies: in the mobile analytics techniques that help marketers to find Smart Data within Big Data, and in the use of those actionable insights to fine-tune messages that target individual consumers at the right time, with offers that really matter.

Valerie Williamson is vice president of business development at OtherLevels, San Francisco. Reach her at .