Mobile Attribution A Double-Edged Sword for Retail Marketers

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tabletMobility has meant marketers can deliver high-value messages to consumers using less real estate, Nicholas Franchet, Facebook’s head of global ecommerce, told a crowd of 1,150 marketers and retailers today at the eTail East conference.

The good? Nearly 50% of time spent on retail sites now happens through mobile devices, according to comScore. Tablet sales alone are expected to triple by 2017. The challenge? Marketers have fewer chances to “get it right” because of the personal nature of the medium and the need to deliver relevant, contextualized ads and experiences.

“Out of our 1.15 billion users, 819 million use us on mobile,” Franchet said. “We’re constantly asking ourselves in development, ‘What is the most engaging piece of content we can show you?’ You as marketers have to bring your best message to this platform.”

A key pain point for marketers is finding all of the people “who matter to you,” and individually targeting them with relevant promotions. Serena Potter, GVP of marketing strategy for Macy’s, later elaborated on this point.

“We’ve been spending a lot of time understanding, ‘What is the customer’s intent based on each device they’re using?’” she said. “We’re [now] developing our strategy as mobile-first and backing out to desktop.” Behavioral differences between different devices are trickling into marketing strategy and development.

For instance, Macy’s tablet users “really like” editorially rich and video-based content, she said. However, editorial-like content does not resonate as much on desktop sessions and “on the mobile phone, not at all.”

Potter said the conversion funnel has changed and the retail brand is looking at engagement scores and other degrees of influence to track the consumer from when they begin their transaction to how their behavior impacts a sale through attribution. Additionally, she is starting to get the question of, “How do you measure the impact of mobile on in-store sales?”

“If you look at screen size, that’s the customer’s lens,” she said. “We’ve built out our creative organization where we have experts doing tablet vs. smartphone optimization and it’s changing how we approach our campaigns.” If a smartphone shopper does not bite in an editorial-fashioned environment, “maybe we hit her back with an email later. If it’s overwhelming, that’s when they’ll bounce.”

A recurring theme among many marketers in attendance is the need for technical ability to measure campaigns with metrics that are channel agnostic.

John Boris, SVP and CMO of Shutterfly, said the company is looking at multi-touch attribution to determine “how things come together from the paid standpoint.” This is a brand that “quantifies everything we can.”

“We’ve discovered that you can’t just operate at the top of the funnel,” he said. “Although ecommerce has been our main [channel] TV [advertising] has been really effective for us. We’ve seen the cascading, umbrella effect it has on our brand search terms."

At Shutterfly, Boris said 15 to 20% of budget is allocated toward new marketing program development, which the company looks at as the “innovation budget.” Shutterfly marketing is experimenting with mobile optimization to test HTML5, responsive design and how CRM data can be used to determine how consumers open their apps and how that impacts sales.

“The reality is, you won’t serve everyone equally,” Boris said, though he and other marketers said this is the eventual goal. “On leanback devices, or tablets, you’re in a different mindset. You’re more receptive to receiving content. On mobile phones, people don’t necessarily want content. They want in and out. The concerns and variables in the mobile subset are massive.”

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