Online marketing was a much simpler proposition just a few years ago, when nearly all Internet traffic occurred on a desktop PC. Today, however, the average consumer owns several connected devices, from smartphones to wearables to TV screens. In fact, Internet use has shifted significantly; in 2014, for the first time, more Internet traffic occurred on mobile devices than on desktops.
For today’s business leaders, this means embracing new marketing methods that reach customers on the devices they use the most. The future lies with cross-device marketing.
What Is Cross-Device Marketing?
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Quite simply, cross-device marketing refers to the process of identifying customers across various devices and serving ads and information designed to render seamlessly on whatever devices they are using to access the web. Cross-device marketing has moved from concept to reality in a very short time; its use increased 59 percent quarter over quarter in 2014.
Challenges in Cross-Device Marketing
Perhaps the most significant challenge in cross-device marketing lies in accurately identifying customers across different devices. In the days of desktop browsing, marketers relied on tracking cookies to positively identify their customers. While cookies work on the Google Chrome app for iPhone and Android, they are essentially worthless for most other mobile apps and browsers, making positive customer ID and cross-device tracking difficult for advertisers.
Some companies approach this problem by asking users to log in each time they access a mobile app; this is called the deterministic approach. Others collect vast amounts of user data and employ highly complex algorithms to predict the user ID, known as the probabilistic approach.
First Steps in Cross-Device Marketing Campaigns
Most consumers use different devices at various stages in the buying cycle. For example, as early as 2012, most consumers used their smartphone to conduct initial research about a product or service before going on to make the purchase on a desktop or PC. Since consumers switch from screen to screen to accomplish various tasks in the purchase process, campaigns need to be designed for user experience across all devices.
For most businesses, the first step is upgrading company websites using responsive design. Designing email campaigns that are optimized for mobile is another logical, cost-effective step.
Marketers should take extra care with landing page design in particular. For example, identify which keywords are used in the research phase, and design mobile-optimized landing pages for those keywords and phrases. Landing pages associated with keywords used in the final purchasing phases could be designed with desktop users in mind.
Metrics to Watch
Reach and frequency are the key performance indicators in cross-device marketing. Understanding how often which ads are shown to which consumers on which devices is the path to accurately attributing and maximizing the effectiveness of ad spend.
In a world in which most consumers own between three and five connected devices, businesses cannot afford to neglect cross-device marketing. While there are certainly challenges, especially in customer identification and tracking, the advantages in customer reach and engagement outweigh them in a highly competitive mobile environment.