Drew Burns of Adobe: Mobile Raises the Stakes for Content Optimization and Personalization

Having the right piece of content at the right time, in the right format, delivered in the right channel goes a long way towards creating great customer experiences today.  Which is way it’s never been more important from both a lead generation and conversion perspective to optimize your content to create personalized, relevant opportunities to engage today’s customers.

Drew Burns, Principal Product Marketing Manager for Adobe Target, a tool for testing and targeting digital experiences, shares with us why mobile devices are driving the need to use location, device type, and profile data to connect content to customers and prospects at “the moment of truth.”

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adobe interviewSmall Business Trends: When I spoke to Kevin Lindsay about two or three years ago, he mentioned this … I don’t know if I’m going to get the numbers exactly right, but the magnitude is pretty on-point, “For every $92 spent on lead generation, only about $1.50 or so is spent on converting those leads.” Are we still in that same kind of ratio, or have things changed over the years around that?”

Drew Burns: Things have changed quite a bit. I remember that figure very well. I believe it came from a Forrester research paper that they had published, and it was completely accurate. When you think about it, all the money that was being spent on email campaigns, display advertising, and off-site acquisition channels was extensive. People realized bringing large groups of people segments, if you will, to a site was very valuable. Then this segment was coming to the site and getting a very vanilla experience. What we’ve been talking about is that experience drives business; it’s not just about targeting on those acquisition channels. When someone comes to the site, you’ve got a lot that you’re wanting to communicate on that site, and a lot that you could be showing.

Continue that conversation from what resonated with them off-site. What did they click through from? Was it a specific offer, or was it sales driven, or was it a package deal that was sent to them for a specific reason? Can we mirror that once they reach the site, and then make their experience through the site much more streamlined and relevant, leading to conversion.

Companies now are finally realizing that the web, and more importantly, the mobile site, and mobile app, are now their direct relationship, and the most immediate relationship with their customers. We have to get to a point where customers are feeling valued, they’re being stirred, they feel satisfaction with interacting with those channels. The more that we can improve that, and invest in that, the better experience they will have, and the better metrics you’ll be able to see in your analytics.

By metrics, I don’t mean time on site, or engagement. As we were talking about conversion, a metric that we’re seeing a lot of our customers look at is customer lifetime value.

When we go back to your initial question, that $92 to $1 ratio, there’s still a tremendous amount, as there should be.  But we’re seeing a lot more than $1.50 being spent now on web sites, the mobile sites, mobile apps, but more importantly too, looking at it holistically. And am I able to track this visitor-to-customer seamlessly across those channels, to be able to provide that next best experience?

Small Business Trends: What role did mobile, and mobile apps in particular, play in increasing the amount of emphasis on conversions? And maybe talk about it in the terms of location based targeting, because apps have to be driving some of that in order for folks to be able to connect at the right time, at the right place?

Drew Burns: Many companies are revisiting what they’ve done with mobile apps. Obviously, mobile applications were hot a few years ago, and every one realized, “Hey, all the other companies have mobile applications, we need one as well.” There wasn’t a lot of education or insights into what the core function of those mobile applications are. When we visit a lot of the companies that we engage with, you’ll see five or six mobile apps that are either old, or not being used as much, on the app store, with varying levels of ratings. Oftentimes very poor, because they’re trying to do too much.

What we talk to our customers about is people go to their mobile site when at much more of an exploratory stage, if they’re doing price comparison, or they want to get more information on a specific package, or a specific investment that you’re offering. When they’re using the mobile app, this is much more of an engine for customer loyalty. They’re usually a customer at that point, and they’re downloading it for a specific purpose.

If you look at financial services, let’s say, you’re going to see mobile app adoption skyrocketing, because people can do a lot of their online banking through a mobile app. Airlines today are really taking advantage of mobile apps for getting your boarding pass, making seat changes, seeing your priority level, seeing additional rewards, maybe even seeing what they could find in a specific airport. The more that you’re able to engage and show that customer you value them, the more stickiness, the more brand loyalty they’ll have over time.

What we see a lot of companies doing, is when they optimize their mobile app, they say, “What is the core features here that we know that our customers want …” We’re looking at analytics, to see what are they using this mobile app for most. How is it functioning? Can I reduce the steps? Can I make it easier. Then what you bring up is that next stage, that really valuable contextual information. Where is this person? What do we believe they’re doing based on their location, and past intents that they’ve shown us? Are they near a specific location that we might be able to push a new notification to them about a deal. Are they near a competitor that we maybe want to steal them away from. There’s a lot that can be done in terms of in app messaging.

Also, location based targeting that can help make a customer aware of something that is most relevant to them, or moving into the next gen phase. These are the forward thinking conversations we’re having with our customers, “Can I create a curated experience at an airport or a store, using the mobile app?” Even personalizing push notifications, based on available parking at a mall.

We’ve seen a shift to the digital town, where we can also create a more curated experience when someone arrives using digital channels at that location. And in an app, you provide that same ease of finding, and relevancy, that somebody can have online using a mobile device, at a location. Another thing I want to point out in terms of Adobe Target, is we now have that ability to extend to what we call the Internet of Things.

Those screens that you see at kiosks, which are everywhere now. We rent movies now through kiosks. We are able to connect Target into that, and use that customer profile, and optimize and personalize those experiences as well.

Small Business Trends: Wow, Drew, you covered a lot of great ground there. For companies that are, let’s say, they want to be a mobile first company. What are some of the main things they need to know about, or maybe to focus in on, to get off to a good start in 2016?

Drew Burns: There’s many pieces to that puzzle, obviously. The first, most important piece is data. Do you have silo data between your mobile teams and your traditional web teams, and your CRM, or data that you are collecting from offline, that customer data, as well. Are all these data sets separate? Because the importance of unifying this data, and finding solutions that enable that, and make that easy to constantly update, it shows you’re making these blind decisions based on a limited data set from a single channel, and going back to what we started with, that acquisition channel disconnected from the main web site, or mobile site channel. Having that data, have a corrected profile, that can be augmented, that you can then take action on, you can track, immensely important.

The second thing we find with many customers looking to take that next step, is they’re essentially trying to patch their web site into the mobile site, and they’re running into the same issues that they ran into with the web site to begin with. Over clutter on the home page, or an entry page with too much stuff. That’s where the strategic methodology, an optimization program, a product like Target can be really valuable. You have to ask yourself, “Is this content absolutely necessary here, and why?”

Finally, is the messaging right? “Does it need to be tailored? Should it be personalized?” What we find with the mobile site versus the web site, is again, there are different intentions that somebody has when they’re accessing a mobile site versus what they might be doing from a desktop site. Let’s take the travel industry for a second, because I’ve been talking a lot about that. Think of how we personally operate when you’re on a desktop and you’re looking up perhaps the Asian packages for next summer. On a web sited desktop, you might be spending a lot more time reading, looking at pictures, evaluating. From a mobile site, there’s a smaller screen there. If you’re on an iPad or a tablet, you might spend a little bit more time, even the evening, there could be temporal variables that can be very factual.

If it’s in the evening, if I’m not at work, or I’m not commuting, I might spend a little bit more time day dreaming if you will, on a site looking through those vacation packages. On a mobile site, if it’s in the morning, and I’m in my commute, I may just be comparison shopping. I may just be looking at price, or better yet, if I’m a hotel or a resort, and I happen to be in the location, I might be looking for accommodations that night. Stuff like strike through pricing, or discounts based on rooms that are still available, especially if there’s a large number, or even luxury rooms can be a real incentive for someone to purchase via mobile versus the way they would act on a desktop.

A lot of things that I covered there, but if you want to get down to the root of it, is the mobile site is a smaller screen. There’s a smaller real estate there, so optimization, and personalization becomes even more important. What do I need there? Is it functioning the way that I think or want it to, for that particular audience? Is it tailored to them, so there’s a greater incentive for them to dig deeper, and hopefully engage, and convert at a  higher rate?

Small Business Trends: Drew, thank you so much. Where can people learn more about Target and even some of the concepts that we just talked about?

Drew Burns: We have a lot of material. The first place for conversations around use cases that I would point people to is the Adobe Digital Marketing Blog.

Another place I would point people to is Adobe-Target.com, and that’s where you can see individual success stories, from brands that I’m sure you’ll recognize, and what they’ve done over time.

This is part of the One-on-One Interview series with thought leaders. The transcript has been edited for publication. If it's an audio or video interview, click on the embedded player above, or subscribe via iTunes or via Stitcher.

Brent Leary Brent Leary is the host of the Small Business Trends One-on-One interview series and co-founder of CRM Essentials LLC, an Atlanta-based CRM advisory firm covering tools and strategies for improving business relationships. Brent is a CRM industry analyst, advisor, author, speaker and award-winning blogger.