Why a 2% conversion rate in mobile marketing sucks.

It’s time to start looking at mobile marketing in a different light because it is not working in its current state. Let me explain.

During the heady days of the web marketing explosion, where eyeballs were an important metric, dollars were poured into the medium with abandon and expectations were tepid to say the least. A good conversion rate of “see my ad” to “go to my website” was roughly 2% and for some reason we accepted that number as good – there were case studies and conferences on how to convert 2% of your audience.

Today, those same conversion rates are less that half a percent and we all seem to be fine with this. Why?

Now it seems we have already accepted a lower-than-should-be call to action rate for mobile advertising and that’s not acceptable.

First off, we shouldn’t be comparing mobile marketing and web marketing. Mobile is a very personal, very targeted experience and shares very little with web-based marketing – or any other marketing experience that has come before it. We need to start thinking about it in that way and not in context to what we’ve done before.

Secondly, a “10X” increase in “click-throughs” versus the web is NOT a good number to (a) measure in mobile and (b) measure at all. Think about it, if for every 1000 people that see your campaign on the web, 5 or 10 people click through to your site and then perhaps the conversion to action is, at best, 50%, you’ve sold or interacted with 2.5 to 5 people. Click-throughs may work for the web but they are doomed for failure in the mobile world. Mobile is such a personal experience, so much so that the conversion rates should be closer to 100% if marketers do their jobs properly.

The quest for 100% conversion to action

That’s a pretty bold statement – is there such a thing as 100% conversion in marketing? Well, if not, then mobile may be the first medium to allow for this if done properly across a large swath of people.

The mobile phone is a personalized and personal experience – it is something we carry with us all the time and depend on more and more for getting through our days. Every interaction we have with it adds to its knowledge – each application we install, location we check in at, service we accept, song we play, book or podcast we listen to or search we perform contribute to our mobile story. Should we decide to share pieces of that mobile story for some benefit to us, the message should be tailored to our experiences and be a perfect fit to our needs at that moment. Send the right message at the right time and I’ll listen and probably act on it.

Done properly, this medium can be the most effective way to tailor a message that elicits an action. It is this personalization that will shift the way we measure marketing away from the low-success, not-relevant click-through and create a new, higher, more targeted mobile measurement unit where the challenge is getting the message right not getting the message in front of millions of people to eek out a small success rate.

Let’s not try to take what we accept and know from other mediums and cram them into the mobile world. This is not an evolution of where we came from – just as the technology that drives mobile is a step technology, so must our thinking be around how to leverage this as a marketing vehicle. Done right this will change the way we measure success. Done poorly and it can set the industry back to the stone ages.

What do you think? Who is doing this right today? Your comments and kudos for people that are doing this right are VERY welcome.

About the author

Rob Woodbridge

I'm Rob, the founder of UNTETHER.tv and I've spent 14 years immersed in the mobile and pervasive computing world. During this great time I've helped some of the most innovative companies grow their business through mobile. If you are in need of a mobile business advisor or coach, connect with me here to get things rolling.

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