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Posted By:  ECT News Network on 07/15/2019 in Marketing

The Quest for the E-Commerce Marketing Holy Grail

The Quest for the E-Commerce Marketing Holy Grail

By Katerina Khalus 

Throughout the course of its existence, humankind has been fascinated by the mythical, mysterious and unachievable. It’s no wonder that the legend of the holy grail persists to this day.

The search for the mythical holy grail has enthralled countless explorers over the course of human history, making its mark in literature from the legend of King Arthur to the exploits of Indiana Jones. In modern times, it has come to signify an unachievable task in a broad range of industries.

In marketing, its discovery is simple but equally elusive: Deliver the right product to the right person at the right time. Before the digital age, this was a near-impossible task as it took a mountain of work to collect the required data in order to complete the quest. Fast-forward to today, and marketers are able to collect and synthesize customer data at a much higher volume.

E-commerce marketers are now able to reach a more targeted audience through digital means. Traditionally, the desktop has been the platform of choice for digital marketing, but mobile has started to skyrocket in popularity in recent years as smartphones have become commonplace.

In the modern-day quest for the holy grail, marketers face a fork in the road. Which direction should the adventurers take -- the newly renovated path towards mobile, or the tried and true road to desktop? Or should expeditions be sent through both?

The Path Towards Mobile

The case for mobile is simple: As more users gain access to smartphones combined with increased smartphone functionality, mobile marketing becomes an attractive means to access large portions of the global population. The convenience and simplicity of smartphones allow e-commerce advertisers to access a broader audience with greater potential for success.

In the modern world, people tend to use their mobile devices in down time in place of traditional activities. The mobile device has taken the place of the magazine in the doctor's office, the radio in the carpool to and from work, and even the conversation in the restaurant. For marketers, it makes sense to be able to target users at all hours of the day.

Today, the average American spends ten to twelve hours a day accessing information from a mobile device. While the typical user spends much of this time doing things other than actively shopping -- watching videos, scrolling through social media, or browsing the Internet --businesses can leverage savvy marketing campaigns to reach these users effectively.

While most users don’t initially begin their retail experience on a mobile device, strategic marketing can turn content consumers into active shoppers. For example, a user reading a blog post on spring fashion trends can easily be linked to an affiliate site for products matching the topic.

The rise of 5G networks is another factor in favor of increased commitment to mobile marketing. Desktop’s traditional advantage over mobile has been speed, but 5G has the capability to balance the playing field. With faster mobile Internet connections users will be able to consume more content at far greater speeds. Greater screen time leads to more opportunities for marketers to reach target audiences.

While the sheer quantity of consumers available through mobile devices is vast, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the right ads will be shown to them at the right time. Fortunately, customer data is much more easily gained through mobile. Advertisers are able to gain access to users’ data across browsers and devices, allowing better targeting of ads to a specific user’s preferences.

So, is the holy grail attainable through mobile marketing? There certainly is a case that it provides a roadmap to its discovery. But is it more valuable than the desktop?

The Path Towards Desktop

While the future may lie with easily accessible mobile devices, there is still a space for desktop marketing to thrive. But does desktop marketing lead to marketing success?

Even with the addition of 5G networks, desktops will retain a sizable speed advantage over mobile devices. Once a user clicks on an advertisement on the desktop platform, it doesn’t take long for it to load and turn into a conversion.

Due to lower speed, mobile advertisements tend to have a much lower engagement rate than desktop. Ads without a well-placed "call to action" banner will draw users' clicks much less frequently. Desktops will hold an advantage into the near future by simply getting content to users at a much higher volume.

In developed markets the rapid expansion of mobile devices has stagnated, with nearly the entire population already owning a smartphone. The massive share of the e-commerce marketplace that mobile took in the previous decade has started to equal out, as everyone who wants a smartphone already has one.

Of course there is still room for smartphones to grow as emerging markets gain greater economic agency, but the global desktop-to-mobile ratio that we see now should remain relatively stable in the ensuing years.

In a recent report, Admitad discovered that goods from China still predominate throughout the majority of e-commerce markets in the world. Somewhat surprisingly, the overwhelming majority of shoppers for goods from China still largely use desktop to access the e-commerce market. In the United States, a massive 97 percent of goods from China were purchased using a desktop browser.

Lastly, while mobile marketing has the ability to reach a more specific audience, the question of privacy has to be taken into account. Mobile marketing is a great means to gather information, but there is risk of it backfiring if not used correctly. Users want their data to be as refined as possible -- but there is a limit, as many are not comfortable with advertisements that reveal too much information.

Using an Omnichannel Approach

So, which is more important for digital marketers? There is a case to make for both desktop and mobile to be the primary marketing focus in the e-commerce world. Mobile’s stratospheric rise will slow down in the coming years, but it is still expected to make up the majority of the market into the future. The truth is that marketers need to create well-thought-out campaigns for both mobile and desktop in order to have the greatest reach.

Advertisers are starting to catch on to the rising mobile trend, with the volume of the mobile advertising market expected to surpass all traditional digital marketing by 2020 in the U.S., per the Admitad report. But marketers need to continue to commit resources to desktop platforms in order to maximize their reach.

Furthermore, marketers need to realize that desktop and mobile marketing campaigns require different strategies. Currently, many mobile campaigns aren’t as successful as they could be due to a failure to understand mobile's differences from desktop.

Each campaign needs to be custom-tailored in order to fit the platform. Many factors need to be taken into account when developing mobile marketing campaigns: user engagement level, network connection speed, and screen size, for example. A ham-fisted intermixing of desktop campaign strategies in mobile campaigns is destined to fail.

In affiliate marketing, there are more and more mobile-only publishers with services including preinstalled applications, groups and bots in instant messengers, targeted ads on Facebook and other in-app ads. Affiliate networks need to improve the technical component for correct tracking of mobile conversions, make more mobile-friendly dashboards, and calibrate the experience for mobile devices in order to be successful.

At the same time, desktop cannot be ignored, as it holds significant advantages over mobile marketing now, and that trend will continue into the near future. An omnichannel approach using the benefits of both platforms is the best means to obtain marketing success.

About the Author
Katerina Khalus is Spain and Latin America Team Lead at Admitad.

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