Michael Becker MMA

In the last shopping days before the holidays my guest is Michael Becker—North America Managing Director for the Mobile Marketing Association (MMA) and a leader in the mobile marketing industry. He’s active in the industry as an entrepreneur, an academic and a recipient of  the Direct Marketing Educational Foundation Rising Stars Award for his tremendous contribution to the mobile and direct marketing industries.

I caught up with Michael (@mobiledirect) earlier this week to discuss the results of a joint survey conducted by Sybase 365, a provider of mobile messaging and mobile commerce services belonging to SAP, and the MMA. [Press release]

The survey of 1,000 consumers in the U.S. confirms mobile’s profound influence on consumer shopping behavior this holiday season. One startling stat says it all: the vast majority (or 87 percent) of respondents said they are reaching to their mobile devices to make a purchasing decisions.

This dovetails with other holiday-time research that shows how people are using their mobile phones for comparing prices, researching deals and coupons, locating product reviews, and tracking loyalty points. In fact, a similar survey conducted by Sybase 365 and the MMA last year found that 62 percent of respondents said they would use their mobile device to help them make purchasing decisions. Clearly, this new survey shows that consumers today are eager to use their mobile device as a transaction tool.

I asked Michael to compare the two studies, discuss the findings and map out the bigger trends, including the increasing importance of mobile to drive results across the entire purchase funnel.

Among the highlights:

MOBILE IS A MUST: As Michael puts it: “It’s a siren call that is putting up a mandate, become mobile or become irrelevant.” But marketers need to “be careful not to put old world paradigms or mental mindsets on what we consider to be media and/or sales channels.” Mobile is both a stand-alone channel and a “connective tissue” that binds and bridges the digital and physical worlds.

MOBILE CHANGES THE RULES: And the holidays shows the tremendous impact of mobile on — everything. “We always talk about Black Friday or that weekend being the biggest sales weekend for marketers.  EBay just came out noting that December 9 was actually the biggest day that they’ve ever had with mobile, in terms of mobile commerce.” Mobile is transforming shopping and “we’re going to see that trend happening more and more.” It’s a trend Michael also calls “mobile warming, if you will.”

ADCOLONY HIGHLIGHTS: AdColony just presented a cross-screen study showing how adding mobile/tablet to a television/movie experience actually increased purchase intent significantly. [Check out the webinar for more results.]

CONTEXT GETS DEEPER/BETTER: Location is just the tip of the iceberg. Moving forward, mobile is going to “develop a number of additional layers of context such as: purchase intent, where am I in the store within a matter of inches, am I in the aisle in front of that product?  Within an hour of the flight, within two days of a flight, what kind of interaction can I be having with the consumer?” And then there is advance context to consider such as: what direction I’m going, what speed I am going, what floor of the building or aisle am I on, what direction am I facing, is it light or dark out?  All of that context will play a role in terms of how the marketer wants to interact with the consumer.” The advance of sensors and sensory networks (in addition to device features such as the accelerometer) mean that “digital exhaust” is being produced that can be aggregated, consolidated and leveraged — and “used for the benefit of the consumer and the relationship they have with the rest of the world, including the marketer.”

These are just a few of the insights that Michael shared, and I encourage you to listen in to the podcast (below) for great examples of companies leading the way, such as Safeway and it’s trail-blazing approach to truly personalized shopping and loyalty.

You can also download the Velti white paper Michael mentioned here. Among its key findings, the research reveals that most mobile marketing spend is allocated to upper-funnel tactics. Specifically, among the executives surveyed, 90 percent use mobile advertising tactics, while only 48 percent use mobile marketing tactics to engage with their customers.

My take:

Consumers are reaching for their devices every step of the journey— creating new opportunities all year (not just at the holidays) for marketers to use mobile in their cross-media strategies. Michael also stressed the increasing importance of context, particularly as trillions of sensors, as well as intelligence in the devices and in the networks, allow marketers to deliver more relevant marketing to more precise audiences. As he correctly points out: The challenge to marketers will be how to adapt and extract the real value out of this so-called data exhaust to delight the customer. So, will your company need to have a Chief Experience Officer in 2013? It’s a tough one to call. But it’s clear it won’t be business — or mobile marketing ­ — as usual in the New Year.