Picture a person on a mobile device, quickly flipping through a mix of social, search, and shopping apps. She’s watching streaming videos, chatting with friends, browsing social media feeds, scanning email inboxes — and shopping.

Online shopping today generally occurs alongside many other digital activities. On average, mobile shoppers will visit six apps — and spend less than four minutes on each one.

It’s an erratic, unfocused path-to-purchase.

And it’s the path where you’ll find your target customers, marketers.

A Look at Mobile Shoppers

According to a new study from Verto Analytics, mobile shoppers are erratic, distracted, highly connected, and everywhere.

Its December 2017 survey of US digital shoppers, Verto characterizes online shopping as a near-ubiquitous activity. More than 96 percent of all American adults use an ecommerce platform at least once a month.

While habits vary significantly across ages and genders, one thing is clear.

“Today’s consumers not only use multiple devices. They also spend time across a variety of apps and web services in a liquid fashion,” the report (registration required) notes.

Consumers seamlessly incorporate online shopping into their daily multitasking routines. That makes it challenging but increasingly important for brands and advertisers to accurately identify their target audience, said Hannu Verkasalo, CEO of Verto Analytics.

“With behavior dependent on factors such as age, gender, income, time, and day of the week, e-commerce apps and web services are in a heated race to capture consumer attention and influence their path-to-purchase — ultimately avoiding the dreaded abandoned shopping cart,” Verkasalo said.

Ubiquitous Digital Connectivity

Our mobile devices — including phones, tablets, and wearables — are wardrobe essentials, tangible symbols of our ubiquitous digital connectivity.

Leaving home without one is sort of like walking out the door without pants: some people do it on occasion, but we tend to judge them and cluck our tongues behind their backs.

For most of us, mobile devices are the modern equivalent of childhood comfort objects. They give us the illusion of being close to everything and everyone that matters. For most of us, especially mobile shoppers, constant connectivity is just a way of life.

According to 2018 data from Pew Research Center, 95 percent of Americans now own a cellphone of some kind. The vast majority — 77 percent — owns a smartphone, up from just 35 percent in its first survey of smartphone ownership in 2011.

Today more than one-in-10 American adults are “smartphone-only” internet users – meaning they own a smartphone, but do not have traditional home broadband service. Younger adults, non-whites, and lower-income Americans are especially reliant on smartphones for online access.

What’s the ROI?

US adults spend more than three hours per day interacting with digital media on their mobile devices, up from less than one hour only five years ago, according to KCPB Partner Mary Meeker’s 2017 Internet Trends report.

Mobile media has taken over for desktop as the primary digital engagement platform – now accounting for two-thirds of digital media time spent, according to comScore.

One of the biggest challenges with mobile marketing lies in connecting mobile shoppers to their paths-to-purchase. The customer journey has grown twisted and tangled.

As Salesforce concluded, “In the Age of the Customer, buyers come into the pipeline through countless touchpoints — and marketers are expected to meet them there.”

Multi-touch conversion paths are the norm now, and the most involve impressions across multiple channels.

Mobile Measurement Challenges

How can you measure your investment?

Google suggests data-driven attribution, which “employs a powerful combination of predictive algorithms and integrated analytics to reveal — and properly credit —every bit of marketing spend that contributes to conversion.”

It “reveals the real path-to-purchase, allowing you to fine-tune strategies based on real customer behavior.”

By Google’s reckoning, top-performing marketing organizations are five times more likely to use advanced attribution. But 54 percent of marketers still credit the last-click, only.

The reality: Data-driven attribution involves levels of sophistication outside the scope of many marketing departments.

Rethinking Mobile Measurement

Traditionally, marketers have tracked the success of their online efforts with cookies. But cookies are all but useless in the mobile space. And even when they do exist, how do you connect one person to a desktop and mobile device?

As Google notes, “over time, one customer may see and be influenced by many different marketing programs from the same company. So if your No. 1 overall objective is profit, then your return on investment should be measured based on the sum of all marketing inputs, not just the direct-response campaign a customer saw right before making a purchase.”

For marketers, the most realistic approach is recognizing today’s mobile shoppers are everywhere. The second step is connecting data about those users on the back end.

By working with third-party attribution analytics technology and implement deterministic device pairing, marketers and advertisers can link the device on which an ad is originally viewed with the resulting use of the correlated mobile app on any subsequent device.

Marketers can connect user activity through specific user identifiers. These ID’s should be non-personally identifiable. They should also be unique to a user of your service or app, and persistent for a signed-in user across all devices.

Want to learn more about reaching your customers across devices? Email Arke CMTO Chris Spears or VP Margaret Wise for more information.

About Arke

Atlanta-based Arke develops strategies and implements digital technologies for better brand experience for your customers.