A clear indication how far customers have shifted to mobile can simply be found by looking at Facebook’s mobile ad revenues for 2016 which represents 80% of total ad revenue.  Only three years ago, mobile accounted for around 20% of the social network’s ad revenue.

The business implications of changing consumer behaviour on mobiles, and how they are reshaping entire industries, means companies must now respond if they are to stay relevant.  Whilst mobile strategies are slowly beginning to mature, there are several pain points that continue to frustrate marketers.

Mobile Loyalty Technologies Ltd has drawn up five key problem areas marketers must address in 2017 if they are to succeed in the transformational world of mobile.

Putting apps before strategy

As technology, particularly mobile, progresses and continues to evolve, marketing strategies must also change.  Most smartphone owners have already developed fixed patterns of behaviour and, as a result, new brand offerings are frequently ignored.  Forrester Research finds that the average UK smartphone owner spends 89% of their app time on just five apps: Facebook, WhatsApp, YouTube, Stocks and Maps.

Breaking into this selection of favoured apps is nigh-on impossible for those brands that do not have a high frequency of usage or purchase.  Instead of simply assuming apps are the answer, marketers need to think more creatively about how they can reach and engage over an ongoing basis with consumers on mobile.

With most consumers using search, rather than apps, to find the content mobile web experiences have a huge bearing on how effectively marketers can reach their target customers.  Google has made further updates including a feature that supports push notifications in web browsers, not just apps.

Forward-thinking brands are also now turning their attention to messaging apps, as they look to serve customers in those apps where they spend most of their time.  Last year, American retailers Everlane and Zulily became the first brands to try Facebook Messenger as a customer service platform.  The Dutch airline KLM plans to offer booking confirmation and boarding passes via the app, whilst the UK shoe retailer Clarks has used WhatsApp to share promotional messages with their customers.

Failure to personalise

Smartphones are intensely personal devices, yet recent research shows that UK marketers lack confidence in their personalisation strategies.  The survey by digital agency Greenlight finds that 88% of marketers believe their brand is lagging behind competitors in their use of personalisation, while only 24% say they personalise on mobile devices.

To overcome this challenge, brands and publishers are searching for ways to better personalise the mobile experience.  For example, visitors to the Powder mobile site can create their own personal beauty profile, which allows the service to deliver bespoke advice and product recommendations based on the information they provide.  The site takes into account a range of personal characteristics such as age, skin type, make-up preferences and price points. Users can then purchase recommended products or save them in a ‘virtual beauty drawer’.

For all brands this ability to deliver personalised messages is a key attraction, especially when the subsequent engagement can be used to gain deeper insight into predicting on-going consumer behaviours.

Ignoring the data

Many brands have not yet grasped the market research potential of mobile.  This is partly due to a lack of imagination from marketers in thinking about how their mobile activity might have an effect on consumers’ in store behaviour, and vice-versa.

Electronics retailer Dixons Carphone has revealed the results of a research project with Google that aimed to quantify the relationship between its’ spend on search marketing and its offline sales.  This involved creating a ‘ROPO’ (research online, purchase offline) study that cross-referenced two years’ worth of the retailer’s sales and media spend data with Google’s search spend data.

From the resultant statistical model, it was discovered that for every online sale achieved through paid search, Dixons Carphone achieved three offline sales.

This helped the retailer identify the extent to which people were using mobiles to research products before purchasing in-store, which in turn enabled it to adjust its investment in mobile search to boost sales and return on investment.

Obtrusive mobile advertising

Research by eMarketer predicted that by the end of 2016 the global mobile advertising market will surpass $100bn and account for more than 50% of all digital ad spend.  Marketers need to rethink their approach to mobile advertising and meet the demand for less annoying or data-draining ads.

In the words of Tumblr co-founder Marco Arment: “Web advertising and behavioural tracking are out of control. They’re unacceptably creepy, bloated, annoying, and insecure, and they’re getting worse at an alarming pace.  Ad and tracker abuse is much worse on mobile.”

The growth of programmatic ad trading on mobile, where ads are served automatically according to different data points such as location or browsing history, is helping to improve the consumer experience.  With the technology & data already there the opportunity for brands to deliver more contextually relevant messages is also now there too.

Under-investment in mobile

Forrester Research predicts that most brands will under-invest in mobile because too many marketers still have a narrow view of mobile as a “sub-digital media and channel”.  Their 2016 Mobile and App Marketing Trends report found that only 20% of marketers feel their companies are investing enough in mobile, while just a third are confident about how to measure mobile ROI.

While most brands are trying to mobilise their content, few are going the extra mile: serving their customers in their mobile ‘moments’ by transforming the entire customer experience.  Emerging technologies, such as artificial intelligence, virtual reality (VR) and the Internet of Things will help focus on the mobile device to activate these technologies with customers and enable business-to-consumer marketers to innovate.

In this context, whilst all brands must make mobile a core priority only a growing minority of leading brands will start to fully integrate mobile into their marketing strategies.