Blog post

What Type of Mobile Marketer Are You?

By Charles Golvin | July 28, 2016 | 2 Comments

MarketingDigital Marketing Strategy and Execution

Apologies straight off if you arrived expecting a quiz similar to those that will tell you into which Hogwarts House you’d be sorted or which Star Wars or Toy Story character you are (apparently it’s Slytherin, C-3PO and Woody for me).

Mobile presents marketers with a diverse and seemingly always-expanding range of tactics, from SMS to proximity marketing. In concert with vendors’ exhortations to embrace “mobile first” this panoply of options may leave you with the nagging feeling that you’re an outlier, that your mobile strategy is behind the curve. Is it, though?

My colleague Anna Maria Virzi and I just published the findings from Gartner’s Digital Channel Survey (subscription required). Examining the mobile marketing data reminded me of an old nerdy joke:

There are 10 types of people in the world—those who understand binary and those who don’t.

(If you don’t get it, ask someone in IT.) Why? Because our data reveal that there are, in essence, two types of mobile marketers:

  1. Mobile-centric. These companies are able to take advantage of the distinct capabilities of mobile devices and networks to engage their customers and prospects in a unique and compelling way. They are more likely to prioritize digital commerce, budget for mobile marketing separately and potentially associate P&L with that budget. Companies in this category typically have a higher frequency of customer interactions, a significant subset of loyal customers, and hence are able to justify the significant development, distribution, maintenance and marketing costs associated with a native mobile application.
  2. Mobile desktop extenders. In contrast to the mobile-centric, these companies’ mobile engagements take the form of adapted versions of desktop interactions—via their web presence, advertising, and search. Mobile does not enable a unique form of connection to customers and prospects but rather extends their existing connections to a different form factor.

The greatest risk that marketers face in their mobile strategy is a mismatch between which approach they choose and what form of mobile engagement is appropriate for their brand and customers. Mobile-centric companies that adopt a mobile extension approach, perhaps due to misallocation of resources or to budgetary constraints, will discover that their mobile engagement is superficial and customers are more likely to churn. Companies that take a mobile-centric approach when mobile extension will meet customer needs face wasted investment in mobile tactics that yield little to no return.

While mobile desktop extenders can eschew investments in mobile-centric tactics, they must devote their resources into ensuring that their mobile adaptations are customized and optimized for the mobile experience. Further, they must continually reevaluate their strategy as new mobile techniques—such as live mobile wallet elements or progressive web apps—emerge that may enrich customers’ mobile engagement with relatively little added investment.

Know your type, match your mobile strategy to it, and you needn’t worry about what the other kids on the block say about you.

The Gartner Blog Network provides an opportunity for Gartner analysts to test ideas and move research forward. Because the content posted by Gartner analysts on this site does not undergo our standard editorial review, all comments or opinions expressed hereunder are those of the individual contributors and do not represent the views of Gartner, Inc. or its management.

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  • Based upon your definition, I’m a desktop extender. I’ve experimented with a couple of different approaches that apply shared apps — such as Flipboard — that already have a significant base of subscribers. I have no interest in creating my own app at this time. Seems to me that few marketers in the B2B space have the follower base that would put a corporate app on their mobile devices. Am I missing something here?

    • Charles Golvin says:

      Thanks David; I’m not certain I understand you. I think that you are not missing anything–indeed I think the number of B2B marketers that can make the economics work for a purely marketing-oriented app is small, and that such marketers are best off with a desktop extender strategy.

      But please respond if I’ve misunderstood you. Cheers