How can you out-innovate and outperform competition with your Mobile Strategy?

Mobile Sense – Volume 1

Mobile Sense – Volume 1

“If you don’t have a mobile strategy, you don’t have a future strategy.”    Eric Schmidt, Google

Mobile is much more important than you may think; at least the customer perception (and behavior) tells us so. Based on a recent study by eMarketer, the customers are always on and already using mobile devices everywhere anytime. They are frustrated because the brand experience on different devices are subpar at best, and customer expectation of brands to get smooth experience on all devices far exceeds the reality of lacking responsive websites and siloed applications. Furthermore, there is also a substantial reality gap for the senior IT leaders who see mobile as transformational and strategic (71%) whereas only 18% of them have a comprehensive mobile strategy.

However, this is also an opportunity for many brands to lead the revolution and outperform the competition by investing in their mobile ‘sense’.

When I talk about mobile sense, I am not just talking about cell phones; now tablets, beacons, wearables, watches, glasses – even your thermostat is part of the ‘mobile’ eco-system – anything that you (or itself) can interact with on the go. Internet of Things (IoT) are not just for geeks in Silicon Valley anymore, it will quickly penetrate to our daily lives in every level, and every company should start designing their products and services around not just mobile and web but also around IoT.

In order to build a mobile strategy, there is some homework that brands need to focus on.

First one is to determine on the brand positioning among competition to provide the best possible customer experience for the target audience.

Customer Experience (UX in software engineering term) is the key success factor for companies to grow revenues, profitability and the customer base. Forrester started measuring the Customer Experience index (CXi) in the recent years and it is apparent that the CX leaders grow much faster than the rest which is no surprise.


Customer Experience index consists of two dimensions: accessibility and functionality. As an example, for an international calling service company, the key accessibility factor is the low price and the key functionality factor is the simplicity of the service. If you can offer a very simple service with a low price, you bet you will get many happy customers who have great experience with your service. This has been my goal in TEL3 where I lead the product and business development along with the marketing strategy.

For the mobile ‘sense’, brands need to concentrate on ‘accessibility’, being accessible from any device and ‘functionality’, offering all features on all these devices with the most simple user interface. This is of course a great challenge because it requires a new development style and deep resources to catch up with the fragmented devices and new technologies that is appearing every day. Hence this is not just a one off project, it has to be a life style of the brands to continue investing in mobile and position their brand at the best possible place considering customer expectations, competitor’s positioning and of course financial resources.

Some brands only focus on mobile applications (as an example ‘Uber’, ‘Shopkick’ due to their business models), some industries are leading the wave due to tremendous financial strength and also fast paced customer behavior changes (as in the case of Comcast, users expect cable companies to stream all programs on all devices – ‘always on’.)

Mobile adoption usually starts with one or two mobile optimized landing pages. As the next step, many brands develop a second experience for users that is a stand-alone mobile optimized website where some of the functionalities are available for mobile users. However, considering almost half of the emails are read on mobile devices, brands now have to have mobile optimized pages for every content, every offer and every communication. This requires a more sophisticated approach such as designing the website on a responsive framework so every page looks exquisite on desktops, tablets and phones.

The next phase is convergence of apps and websites via ‘web services’ and ‘deep linking’ so users can have seamless experience between multiple devices, and switch content/data back and forth. Comcast, Directv, almost all the cable and dish companies now offer seamless experience where you can start to watch a movie on one device and complete it on another. Besides, Facebook’s new app engagement ads made deep linking to your app even more important. Twitter, Google, Youtube, Urban Airship all follow suit, adding deep linking into their advertising or service platforms to enable brands to provide more engaging experiences to their audiences regardless of where they consume the media or the service. Google recently introduced a new feature that its search engine can now launch your favorite music apps when you search a band or artist on your cell phone.

Expanding your digital assets to physical assets is the next chapter in mobile evolution. Beacons, Internet of Things allow physical devices and/or locations to interact with mobile devices. The opportunities here are endless. Furthermore, penetration of digital wallet into our daily lives, initiatives led by PayPal, Google and Apple is another hot topic.

These two major trends will shape the future of shopping and eventually there will be no company that is immune from this change. Digital wallet and interaction with IoT are both presented in the top right of the chart.

Mobile Strategy Road Map

The second step is to understand the persona of the customers, their world views and behaviors with the mobile devices.

Brands already know many things about their customers, including purchase, behavior, web and even mobile analytics data. Furthermore, many companies conduct detailed market research studies, prepare tens of papers to learn more about their customers.

However, many of the results of these only help with some gradual improvements in mobile strategy. Brands need to think outside of the box to innovate and make valueable changes with their products and marketing to exceed expectations – which is the only way to improve CEi.

On my next post, I will discuss the role of design thinking in strategy and innovation, plus some interesting and helpful tools such as ‘semiotic square’ and ‘kano model’ for strategy and product development. The last article in the ‘mobile sense’ series will be about new developments and changes in mobile marketing and mobile service platforms, including ad networks and push notification services.


New Order in Digital Marketing and Strategy – Manifesto

Data, Interface, Live, Local, Mobile, Place, Product, Promotion, Social
Digital Native

Digital Native – Photo by TF28 |

This article was first published at

Industrial Age is over.

Economic balance is globally shifting.

East and South are rising.

By population, by value.

Luckily, digital age has only just started.

The rules are changing.

Economies of scale, scarcity & mass advertising advantages are being replaced with the long tail, abundance of data and rapid-cycle test and learn.

Marketing and Innovation in this digital era have new rules; They are more democratic and offer many new tools available to all of us.

Whoever adapts to the new rules and innovate faster will start leading…

“Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.” Steve Jobs, 2005

What is a sense? — any of the faculties, as sight, hearing, smell, taste, or touch, by which humans and animals perceive stimuli originating from outside or inside the body

Businesses have senses too. That will set them apart and let them perceive stimuli to react, build and innovate in this global economy. Like humans, businesses have all these senses embedded in their eco-system but most of these senses are usually very weak and only few of them are strong by nature. Only the ones that design and master senses strategically will be a part of these fast growing digital markets.

New Order Manifesto


4Ps (Product, Place, Promotion, Price) are still important and now any digital business model has powered by one or more of the six vital senses: social, local, mobile, live, interface and data.

Twitter is all about ‘Live’ trends with great ‘Interface’ that you can access from anywhere. Mint is strong with its ‘Data’ sense with another great ‘Interface’ sense. Craigslist has a subpar interface but its ‘Local’ and ‘Live’ senses are such a killer, it serves very well for its audience.


Pick at least two primary senses, position yourself strategically in your market and focus on selected senses better than your competition to dominate

The Huffington Post (HuffPost) has passed the New York Times (NYT) for the first time as of April, 2011 (unique visitors). Both have strong ‘Live’ sense, but Huffingtonpost pioneered the publishing media market with ‘Social’ and ‘Interface’ senses by integrating its business with thousands of bloggers and other news media that still since then no other publisher could replicate. The wonderful NYTimes Innovation report and the introduction of NYT Now app were good steps forward by NYT.


How HuffPost strategically outpaced NYTimes


The more senses you apply to your business creatively, the faster you thrive.

It is no surprise that Google has entered into ‘Social’ arena with 1+ which was the only lacking sense for them. Facebook and Google both are also after the digital payment processing business, not because of the transaction fees but mainly because of the last data piece that they are missing: spending data by users.


Evolution of six senses by Google


Now everyone is a Marketer.

Now every Marketer is an Architect who builds remarkable products, designs unique user experiences, prioritizes the data by mastering numbers, builds thriving teams across different functions, works on a rapid-cycle test & learn and lastly who can tell engaging stories.


4Ps Revisited


Mobile and Web let many different business models to emerge that we haven’t seen before. Uber, a service platform start-up can be valued at 18billion USD in less than five years after launch. Digital enabled not only many new advertising technology platforms to emerge, but also allowed many other new disrupting businesses to threaten the old business models, like Amazon, Airbnb and Angie’s List.


Distribution models couldn’t be immune from the change as well. It is not just the digital products like e-books, digital music records that are affected by this change, but even the biggest retailers are trying to figure out how to compete against the online services. Now, every artist can distribute its art work directly without any label company thanks to new emerging platforms.


No more mass exposure but more dynamic micro targeting based on behavior and intent is gaining attraction thanks to intelligent advertising platforms and channels. Brands start taking advantage of real time bidding platforms, and also start focusing on targeting the audiences –on which device and on wherever website they are — rather than buying media from a set of publishers and hoping for the best.

There are two major challenges for any marketer in this new era:

Users are always on, always mobile. Reaching them on different channels, through different channels requires the marketer to run the campaigns like a portfolio manager; by mastering numbers and optimizing asset allocation. Marketer’s secret weapon here is the rapid-cycle test & learn (the bankers never had the opportunity as such, and we all know what happened) and the power of analytics. Analytics changed the way marketing works forever.

Second challenge is the fact that the explosion of messages result attention deficit disorder with consumers. Telling engaging and compelling stories like a screen writer by mastering emotions and telling sticky ideas that will match with the worldview of the targeted audience are the key to succeeding. Secret weapon here is to figure out your audience and their worldview.


The new era opened up creative pricing schemes from free and fremium to all sorts of dynamic pricing including Pay What you Want (PWYW).

6 Senses Introduced


“I’m talking about taking the entire social experience of college and putting it online.” Mark Zuckerberg “The Social Network”

Not just the business models, but also the consumer buying behavior have changed over the last decade. Based on recent research, now 74% of consumers rely on social media to inform their purchasing decisions. 70-90% of the buyer’s journey is completed prior to engaging with a vendor (Forrester).

Now, every brand is a media company and having a social media and influencer strategy is a must. Influence score is based on three aspects; the brand’s reach, how influential the reached audience is (authority), and their engagement with the brand’s content and media.

Characteristics and Challenges

Connect with influencers for your audience. Use game mechanics to increase engagement. Enable sharing and communication all the time for the users. Design for social patterns. Join conversations. Amplify your story via visual content. Design interactions and contents specific for each social channel.


“We’re entering the Age of Context. That means (among other things) that information will be presented to you based on your situation, location and individual needs and preferences.” Mike Elgan

With the introduction of new technologies like BLE and beacons like iBeacon, now having a personal one-to-one marketing is not a dream anymore.

Characteristics and Challenges

Master location aware interactivity and data. Customize experiences based on culture, language, weather, location and even device information. Use game mechanics.


Mobile might be the most important sense for any digital business. Mobile is not just about phones anymore; any wearable device like Google Glass, or any home automation device like Nest, including all Internet of Things are part of the mobile experience and changing the way we connect and interact with the ‘Things”. Our own cell phones that we love so much are just one small part of it.

Two major trends that will shape the future of shopping are both mobile related: the convergence of online/offline retail experience and penetration of digital wallet into our daily lives.

Characteristics and Challenges

Accessibility issues from any device. Build on responsive design and provide seamless experience on all devices, in and out.


“Happening Now!” CNN -> Twitter

Twitter is the first company when ‘Live’ sense is discussed. However, technology marketing platforms with the introduction of ‘real time’ bidding and programmatic buying also changed the way advertising works as well, and they deserve to be acknowledged with this sense. Many digital start-up is building its core competence based on ‘live’ sense to get ahead of the game.


“A picture is worth a thousand words. An interface is worth a thousand pictures.” Ben Shneiderman, 2003

Interface is one of the major senses that affect the companies to grow. In general, companies that embrace open api scheme and allow third party developers to build apps and use the data on top of their platforms, tend to grow exponentially faster than “closed” eco-systems. Furthermore, for digital companies, UX is the key success factor in customer acquisition and retention and hence Forrester started measuring the Customer Experience Index for brands.

Characteristics and Challenges

Integrate with other services. Design for interaction. Master user experience. Enable access and seamless experience from any device. Build APIs for others to grow your business


“It’s the (economy) data, stupid! Credits to James Carville for the original quote

Big Data’ is changing marketing and advertising forever. The abundance of data is also a big challenge so being able to prioritize it and formulate it to get actionable results is an important competitive advantage for brands.

Characteristics and Challenges

Analyze behaviors, outcome and intent — click stream data, conversions and survey. Present data in an interactive and meaningful way via enhanced data visualization. Segment everything — persona, technographics, demographics, and behavioral, social, psychographics. Test and measure everything, fail often.

So what’s the take?
Revisit all your projects.
Define your strategic sense(s) and invest on them every single day.

Programmatic buying on the rise

Advertising, Data, Display
Programmatic Buying

(Image credit to Leslie)

A big paradigm shift is already happening in the digital advertising space. The announcement of Google to introduce ‘Partner Select’ program, programmatic video ad buying for premium content, along with the reports that Procter & Gamble and American Express shifting their budgets (up to 70%) to programmatic are just couple recent examples on how programmatic is becoming mainstream.

Programmatic is not only a technological change. It is true to say that the machines are more effective in exchange businesses and can make split second decisions when it comes to which ad to serve. But the significant change is happening on the concept of media buying. Still many brands are targeting media, wanting to get the best spot from publishers to expose themselves to the consumer. Hence lengthy negotiations, media buying process is still popular and most of the buying is done like this. However, the programmatic enables a different type of buying: Intelligent Audience Targeting – that learns.

This might be the third phase in advertising. First modern era was the ‘Mad Man’ era. Second one started with the introduction of computers that enabled all kinds of analytics and measurement. Now, the artificial intelligence is finally bringing ‘big data’ into the play where machines analyzing the user on hundreds of parameter based on their holistic web experience (not just on one publisher) completely changes the capabilities of the brands to reach to the right people at the right time.

Programmatic buying, machine learning already proved itself in the last three years and many players stood out in the ad market place. DataXu, Rocketfuel, Turn, X+1, Media Math, BrightRoll (Video), Live Intent (Email) are few of them who are leading the revolution. The business models are simple. They offer two service levels, self service or managed. However, no new disruptive technology is without challenges. Transparency, trust issues and finding qualified talent to run campaigns with these complex algorithms are some of them to name.

Check out live stream on Twitter for more on #programmatic.

What to do with the BIG data?

Advertising, Data, Display
Network of Big Data

Network of Big Data

The big catch phrase in 2014 is the BIG data. It sounds cool. Everyone is talking about it, but very few people really understand what it is good for or how to make sense of it.

In simple terms, the BIG data is all the semantic data that is available to your users, potential customers and services out there. It is not just limited to your first party data, such as all your CRM and web analytics data. It also includes millions of other data points on the cloud that is available for your potential users who are just like your existing ones. So, ok, data is big, and it is absolutely hard to manage such volume, especially since they are in different silos, in different databases and sometimes not even in your control. Nonetheless, this part is not the main issue. The real tricky part is making sense of all that data and converting it to an actionable decision making power by harnessing the data.

Banks have been managing and using the data, and the real BIG data for years. We all know what has happened in 2008, so having access to significant data is not the problem, but gaining an understanding of it is a major one. Retailers have made use of it for years as well. All big FMPG companies invest heavily on R&D to optimize shelf space and solve how to decrease the out of stock rates for years by relying on data.

Now, with the Internet, there is an explosion of data sources for everyone. A marketer of today has tens of different tools and data sources to make a decision on how to optimize campaigns and allocate its marketing budget among different campaigns: including

~ Analytics data such as where people are coming from, which device they use, what they do on the site and the outcomes,

~ CRM data such as purchase history, demographics, and service usage information along with location data

~ Social data such as social likes, shares, comments, friends, influence ratings

~ Feedback data such as surveys, research, persona data,

~ Campaign data such as impressions, clicks, conversions,

~ Testing data such as multivariate, A|B testing, data, heat maps,

~ Audience data such as intention, interest, third party verticals data,

All these are good data, and altogether help the marketer make sound decisions during campaign management. However, now, we can do even better than all this. The promise of demand side platforms is to analyze all these different data points from your campaign and understand which ones are converting better so that they can target similar users to improve conversions. They match the same characteristics of the converted ones with the millions of other users who have similar (look alike) behaviors. The algorithms test all the possibilities and continue improving over time. BIG data and programmatic buying are really in play here, and the budgets are shifting to programmatic buying real fast.

Now, big DATA is really getting exciting, against all odds…


What’s next for Mobile?

Advertising, Mobile

Everyone is talking about or experimenting with the significant growth and success of mobile ads. The turnaround for Facebook was not long time ago and all started with the growth in mobile ad revenues. But it is only the tip of the iceberg. Once we master the mobile experiences – for any service – along with all the other five senses: social, local, live, data and interface, the shift in advertising, experiences and eventually in commerce to mobile will accelerate very fast.

For me it all started with the cool interface – we all love screens in our pockets. Then people on mobile started discovering more people on social networks. Now we consume and share significant content thanks to any location based services. We even like the mobile ads thanks to very smart and ‘big’ social data.

So, what’s next, where do we go from here?

There is still about a year or two for the mobile ads market to mature, so the lead generation opportunity is vast. With the introduction of video ads and the analytics tools for the advertisers, the shift in marketing dollar will continue to mobile from desktops – like the time spend overall as well.

I hear people start arguing that users are already addicted to phones. When you consider that on average we interact about 200 times a day with our phones (for more than 2 hours), the argument may sound correct. However, what’s changing (and actually already changed with the introduction of iOS7) is the significant growth in Internet of Things at the same time. The hardware is ready. The software is catching up. What’s lacking is the seamless mobile experiences. But it is coming… it is coming very soon. Retailers are the first to jump on the bandwagon and they are not alone.