Today, we’re announcing the results of a survey on mobile messaging in the enterprise that Message Systems commissioned Harris Poll to conduct. The survey has a focus on who is embracing mobile messaging, how they are using it, and what they are spending on it – presently and in the future. We moved forward with the assumption that most business were aware of the marketplace changes being driven by mobile, and that most were already adapting their marketing, engagement and customer service practices to address the new messaging environment. But to what extent? That is what we endeavored to find out in our mobile survey, and we’ve outlined five key takeaways from our survey below.

 

Survey Finding #1

At least eight in ten customer messaging decision-makers report that their company currently has or plans to adopt the following in the next year:

  • SMS text: 89 percent
  • Mobile-optimized email (responsive design): 89 percent
  • Mobile apps: 86 percent
  • MMS text: 86 percent
  • IM chat: 83 percent
  • Push notifications: 80 percent

Key takeaway: The move towards mobile

In our view, sizable majorities of marketers realize that the communication landscape is rapidly changing toward mobile channels, and they are acting accordingly to accommodate their mobile customers. Not surprisingly, text and mobile email – the longest established messaging types – are leading the way as channels for reaching mobile customers. At nearly 80% adoption, push notifications are not that far behind, however. We were a little surprised to see 89% of customer messaging decision-makers say their companies have adopted or are planning to adopt mobile optimized / responsive design for email. Our very unscientific personal experience is that the vast majority of commercial email today is still produced in standard HTML. But it’s great to see such a high number of these companies understanding that mobile optimization is a concern to be addressed. 

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Survey Finding #2

Ninety-one percent of customer messaging decision-makers report that their company currently supports, or plans to support in the next 12 months, time-sensitive reminders and notifications through mobile channels.

Key takeaway: Time-sensitive messaging (reminders and notifications) will be a key mobile tactic

In our view, we see this widespread intention to adopt time-sensitive notifications as a realization that mobile is a more time-sensitive environment than the desktop web. More so than with TV or the PC / laptop experience, timeliness and immediacy are key to the mobile experience. Marketers understand that getting information in front of customers at the most opportune time is critical, and they are embracing mobile messaging as the ideal channel through which to do so.

 

Survey Finding #3

Seventy-two percent of customer messaging decision-makers say that their company currently uses location-based mobile strategies or plans to use them in the next 12 months.

Key takeaway: Location, location, location

As with timeliness, our belief is that marketers understand that location adds an important dimension to communicating with customers on the go. Fewer customer messaging decision-makers say their companies are embracing location-based strategies than those embracing timely reminders and notifications, but the percent is still a strong majority. It should be noted that these customer messaging decision-makers were from a very wide range of customer-focused industries. Based on how it’s usually depicted in the media and analyst reports, location-based messaging would seem to always revolve around retail scenarios or service-oriented interactions, such as with banking. But even while the survey found variable and not necessarily large percentages from each industry (but rather collectively a large number) it’s clear nonetheless that customer messaging decision-makers from various industries such as publishing, media, telecommunications and e-businesses also perceive location-based messaging as potentially valuable for their businesses. 

 

Survey Finding #4

Large percentages of these marketers say their companies either are now or are planning to send messages to customers based on each of the following types of information:

  • Preferences (e.g., a customer has indicated, through a preference center, that she would like to receive snowfall prediction alerts from the local ski facility, but on weekends only. When snow is predicted for Saturday, send her a message on Friday.) – 78% currently plan to deploy; 50% currently do
  • Context (e.g., a repeat shopper could be offered a discount, or if inclement weather is predicted a store could promote umbrellas and raincoats) – 7% currently plan to deploy; 48% currently do
  • Location (e.g., when a shopper walks by a store location, send them a coupon for a limited-time offer available at that particular store only) – 73% currently plan to deploy; 47% currently do
  • Behavior (e.g., a shopper who abandons an online shopping cart could be sent an incentive offer) – 73% currently plan to deploy; 39% currently do

Key takeaway: New options for relevance

The marketers surveyed understand that they have many new techniques and possibilities for reaching customers, whether in retail situations, service situations or conditional situations, e.g., weather.

2014 Mobile Survey Finding 4

 

Survey Finding #5

Eighty percent of customer messaging decision-makers consider it a critical/high priority for their company’s mobility and engagement strategy to support a wider variety of mobile devices and platforms over the next 12 months, with 31% calling it a critical priority.

Key takeaway: Device compatibility is a major concern

Our takeaway is that the rapid pace of change in mobile is generating a high level of concern among these marketers that they could get left behind the curve, and potentially not be able to reach their customers as freely as they can today. Device vendors, OS platforms and messaging infrastructure providers would be wise to ensure that the mobile Internet continues to evolve as a standards-based environment. Vendors that can remove complexity from the mobile equation are likely to be at an advantage.

What’s Next?

Clearly, the changes to the customer communication landscape being driven by mobile technologies are top-of-mind for a healthy majority of the customer messaging decision-makers participating in the survey. It’s worth repeating some key finding from the Meeker Report we mentioned in the previous post on this survey: 25 percent of all global Internet traffic is now traveling over mobile devices, and most emails are now opened and read on mobile devices also. The odds are strong that these figures will continue to grow in the years ahead. The marketers we surveyed, in large part, indicate that they are adopting or plan to adopt the mobile messaging strategies that they will need to get out in front of these changes.  Overall, it’s Message Systems position that companies that don’t already have a mobile messaging plan in place today are likely find themselves playing catch-up at a later date.

Methodology

This survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Poll on behalf of Message Systems between April 23 to May 19, 2014 among 208 US full-time employees of companies with an annual revenue of $100M or more, who are employed at the director level or higher in key departments (administrative/executive, customer service, e-business/e-commerce, production/operations, IT, marketing, communications, or advertising), and have at least a major influence in decisions regarding their company’s mobile messaging efforts. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. For complete survey methodology, including weighting variables, please contact mobilesurvey@messagesystems.com.

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10 Steps To Mobile Messaging

The Mary Meeker Internet trends 2014 annual report came out in late May, and as usual it sheds a lot of light on how emerging technologies are changing the world around us. Weighing in at more than 160 slides, there’s a ton of information to digest from the report, so I’m going to concentrate on just a few of the high points.

The Internet Is Becoming a Mobile Environment

Mobile traffic as a percentage of total worldwide Internet traffic reached 25% recently, a remarkable stat considering that mobile accounted for less than 1% of traffic just five years ago.

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Meeker, former analyst at Morgan Stanley and now a partner at Kleiner Perkins, cites strong growth in video traffic  to mobile devices as the key driver of this trend, but it appears that surging growth in mobile devices themselves is an important driver also. Smartphones and tablet PCs together are flying off shelves at a simply astonishing rate, continuing a trend we first blogged about back in 2012.

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What really jumps out is how mobile is bringing the Internet to far larger numbers of people than the wired / desktop model did in the 1990s and early 2000s.

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Moreover, it is now quite clear that the TV is no longer the most important screen for most of us. Taken together, PCs, smartphones and tablets have our attention for many more minutes of the day than does the TV.

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In the US, people spend around 300 minutes per day looking at their PCs or mobile devices vs. around 150 minutes per day watching TV. The implications for marketers are, obviously, enormous, though it’s not yet clear that the nature of this sea change has sunk in with brand advertisers, media strategists and engagement specialists. Seven years after the debut of the iPhone, and four years since the debut of the iPad, it seems like we’re still in the early days of the mobile revolution.

 Learn how leveraging on mobile can improve your customer engagement with the Forrester Go-to Guide for Mobile Engagement webinar.

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This got everybody buzzing – twice!

When Kleiner Perkins’ Mary Meeker reportedly took the stage at the All Things Digital D11 conference and said a typical smartphone user looks at his/her device 150 times a day, it blew up into a media-driven meme – and the blowback was immediate:  sources questioned, concerns expressed, integrity challenged, pundits punditing and counterpunditing in dizzying escalation.  Who said the NBA playoffs have a hedge on smack?

Hey – even the best of us make mistakes.  But Kleiner Perkins isn’t backing off, even if the research might have been dodgy – they think it’s a fair assumption, and if we’re considering a heavy or super-heavy smartphone user, they might be in the ballpark.

But our first thought was, what’s a statistic like that mean to our customers?

Just saying “150 times a day” doesn’t cut very deep.  Is the device user parsing callers?  Browsing?  Doing a check-in?  Or looking at email?  How many times are they actually engaging with whatever they’re looking at?

Users Reach To Phone 150 Times A Day

It nearly doesn’t matter if it’s 150 glances, or 15, or 1500 – what matters is what they’re looking at, and how they react.  That matters, especially if you’re an enterprise that uses email to engage with customers.

For them, getting rich data on how people use mobile email is more important than knowing how often they look at their iPhone or G4.  Guess what?  There’s data out there, and it’s crazy fun – like the fact that one study by Adobe indicates that 79% of us use a smartphone for reading email, a higher percentage than those who use it for making callsOr that over 41% of emails are opened on a mobile OS or device (Knotice, 2013).

We’d also bet one particular slice of the mobile messaging stream (which can include SMS, alerts, mobile social pokes, etc.) grabs more attention than others, same as it does everywhere else: transactional emails get opened.

So.  Claiming I’m going to check my phone 150 times a day doesn’t reveal a lot.  It’s a pithy claim that grabs headlines…though so does anything with the word “Kardashian” in it.

What is handy is detailing the hierarchy of engagement with my smartphone: what I open, what I ignore, and what compels those choices.

Want to find out more about how to optimize transactional mail to develop customer conversations and increase ROI? Download the Transactional Messaging Best Practices eBook!

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