Ask most decent-sized B2C organizations - or B2B for that matter - how their marketing automation set-up looks and I guarantee you'll get some enthusiastic responses. The general tone will probably be along the lines of “we've got that covered”. As them how the mobile app fits into that picture and - in my experience - things go a little quiet. The truth is that right now the mobile app is something of a black box for many organizations. What happens in there remains a mystery, and it certainly remains isolated from the rest of the organization. As long as that is the case, any marketing automation solution you might think to implement is laughably inadequate.

We could argue all day about the future of the mobile app versus the mobile internet, but we won't escape the conclusion that the app is here to stay. And nor could it be argued that consumers don't prefer apps - according to this report 85% of them come down firmly on the side of the app. So they're not going anywhere. So given all that, is it really acceptable that our marketing efforts either don't cover the mobile app, or aren't informed by the data we gather within it? I don't think so.

Bringing The Marketing Ecosystem Together

That's not to say that existing marketing automation solutions aren't delivering value. Some surely are. But on the other hand, until this effort is truly multi-channel, it isn't really solving the real challenges that marketing automation should. I speak to a lot of established B2C organizations and I would estimate that we're pretty close to the point where over 50% of business is done via mobile apps. That's an extraordinary shift in a short space of time, so perhaps it's no wonder some are struggling to keep up. But that number tells us something else: now is the time to bring the strands together.

Two things are necessary, each one side of a single coin:

  • We have to ensure that mobile data - ie information on exactly what users are doing within mobile apps - is available to the rest of the organization, and informs the programs delivered by existing marketing automation tools.
  • At the same time, it is necessary to ensure that any marketing that happens on the mobile (push notifications, native content editing, in-app campaigns etc) can learn from events and customer data sourced outside the mobile environment.

That requires first and foremost ensuring that marketing systems - and central systems of record - can integrate and share data in a meaningful way. Our bi-directional API and willingness to work with anyone (well, anyone relevant) on that challenge is one step in the right direction. When we get there, we'll be able to create the kind of cross-channel experiences that really make good on the promise of marketing automation. I'm thinking of the following:

  • Sending a push notification to a user who hasn't read (or perhaps, for whatever reason, received) an email. Or specifically because they haven't.
  • Delivering an in-app campaign to a customer based on their previous browsing history on the website, the next time they open the mobile app.
  • Creating unique mobile experiences for bricks-and-mortar shoppers, based on data shared from retail POS systems from other branches of a store.

Of course the possibilities here are absolutely endless. When we're delivering on scenarios like the ones above, marketing automation will have truly taken a great leap forward!