Mobile & CRM: Customers are on mobile (too), is CRM data informing the cross-platform experience?

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Your app is optimized, and push notifications are getting delivered as users get close to your store: why do you still feel you are missing that real 1:1 customer engagement?

As consumers move more and more of their media consumption to mobile it’s not surprising that brands have been following, both in their advertising (slowly but surely– mobile advertising is still lagging PC, but US spending increased 76% between 2013 and 2014) and also in having their own content, in particular mobile apps. Until recently these mobile apps have tended to exist in vacuums, often managed quite separately from other digital marketing efforts. Mobile has been thought of as a different, purpose-driven activity, and in that context it is understandable that marketers have treated optimizing the mobile experience as a goal in and of itself. Indeed, when marketers started with mobile apps this made complete sense, since mobile was a new interaction mode for most consumers, and even getting people to download an app was an effort. Now marketers are realizing they need to deliver a consistent experience across platforms.

What’s working today in the mobile space? Best practice involves at minimum two things: effectively instrumented app analytics and some degree of contextual content. In terms of driving the best experience a number of app optimization tools have emerged, and mobile aspects of Google Analytics remains a default offering for many. A/B testing, and heat maps, seeing where users interact with an app, are increasingly well understood and can deliver measurable results (a nice example of both was recently posted by Lonely Planet).

Making apps more contextually relevant can drive consumer engagement, and some level of apparent personalization. Ensuring that geography and time of day are accounted for in the experience is often seen as best practice. Companies like Starbucks and Starwood are making sure their users are soft notified on the iOS lock screen based on geography (near a hotel, near a coffee shop). iBeacons, QR codes, NFC tags and the like promise even more contextually relevant content, with more or less consumer interaction– these tend to be more specific, often down to the product level. A FollowAnalytics survey indicated at least 60% of large company marketers confirmed that they were already at least trying to deliver contextual and individual messages to customers. In-app notifications and mobile push customer messaging (which have replaced, for many marketers, the earlier direct mobile communication capability promised by SMS, and have good customer acceptance) are usually well integrated with app experiences, but still remain in the mobile silo.

What’s missing is the customer context of previous journeys. Was a consumer researching products or offerings last night on the PC? Are they in this location having received a promotional offer in the past few days? Customers are increasingly cross-platform, often most engaged on mobile, but coming back to the PC for more complicated interactions (I’m going to communicate with my Airbnb host via my Apple Watch, but I’m not going to spend 45 minutes with my wife working out where to stay in New York on anything but a PC screen).


By treating mobile as a silo, to be individually optimized, companies have not yet maximized the potential for the data within their CRM and other customer systems to inform what is increasingly the most common interaction mode. It’s ironic, for example, as more and more email is opened on mobile devices, that the personalization of those emails is not carried over into the same brands’ apps (indeed often the emails are barely mobile optimized). Marketers are clearly aware of the possibilities of this level of communication and interactivity, but are not yet satisfied with what they can get done here. In the same survey by FollowAnalytics, 91% of marketers (see graph above) they felt their app efforts would be more successful if they could better incorporate data from CRM or other customer systems. A true cross-platform experience will apply that customer data to as many touch points as possible. Even the most engaging mobile app exists in part to complement the overall brand experience.

That experience needs to be a two way street. For many consumers mobile is increasingly the most engaging interaction point with a brand. Being able to tie back a app interaction to a quote request or a phone call ought to deliver better experiences across all interaction channels.  What consumers does on mobile needs to be fed back into the broader CRM systems to inform the next cycle of the relationship.

Pulling consumer data into your app experiences — Is it time to stop worrying about presence and downloads and start asking whether your apps are delivering ROI?
Your app is in your customer’s hand- how do you maximize that touch point? — Bridging the chasm between the app experiences you deliver and the customer data that is informing your sales and marketing.

This is the first of a short series of sponsored posts on integrating traditional CRM data into mobile app marketing strategies. It was brought to you by FollowAnalytics and opinions are my own.