Chris Brya Q&A Part I: How Much Time, Money to Spend on Mobile Analytics?

In the below Q&A, Chris Brya, Director, Mobile & Emerging Channels, Choice Hotels, talks about how to apply analytics to your mobile programs and how deep to delve. He also gives tips on how to work with vendors to create win-win situations for both your organization and theirs.

Chris Brya

Kelly: I want to talk about the vendor aspect that you got into in your presentation at a recent Mobile Shopping conference. I thought that was interesting. Another thing that was talked about a lot during your session was the idea that people are trying to analyze mobile behavior as if it were PC behavior. And I thought it was interesting that you said that that may shift actually, where mobile may start to influence how PC’s operate. Could you elaborate on that a little bit first?

Chris: Yeah. So right now, I think that everyone is playing catch up and the analogy is to say, “Well we have this desktop, you know, website. Let’s just make a miniature version of that mobile.” And to a large degree at this infancy stage, that probably would work okay. But the mobile customer is getting savvier and savvier. The bar is being raised higher and higher, so you’re going to have to adapt the mobile interface to be cleaner, to be easier, to be faster. And I think that when you raise the bar in mobile, they’re going to go back to your desktop web and say, “Well, why can’t I get a faster, simpler or cleaner look here ‘cause that’s really what I want?” So I think that’s going to start by following what PC’s are doing, but I think that the PC will start evolving into how mobile is being used for customers as well.

Kelly: Okay, great. Getting into the analytics piece, some of the questions that were brought up were, “How do you take the analytics and then really map out your strategy?” And one person from the audience was kind of having trouble with how to prioritize. You gave him some advice. Could you reiterate that for us? What can you do if you’re a company who knows that you have to do this, but you have 10 other things that you have to do too? Is it first, is it third? How do you prioritize?

Chris: Mobile is tough in the sense that, unless you’re in it, you don’t have anything to measure against. But I think that in [this person’s] case, he was in mobile but he wants to be more within the mobile channel, and I think that’s where the analysis piece comes in that you mentioned that you’ve got to know – you have to duly manage what you measure. So it’s important to measure everything because it’s going to be able to tell you a story. I mean in our case, we knew when we launched the mobile channel that we were…we had a pretty good idea that we would have mobile business right away because we knew people were kind of coming to the desktop web through mobile devices. And sure enough when we turned that on, they did. They came, they booked, and it was great. So the analysis you need to do is really check out, you know, “Does this make sense? Is this going to be…is this something where we’re already leaving money off the table?” Then the cost aspect of, “What if we didn’t do anything?” And I think that’s where it gets really important to convey in your group: “Of all the things we need to do, mobile is a large driver, and here is why we have to get in it.”

Kelly: How do you think that’s going to actually happen? I’m thinking about my cell phone, and when I go to a mobile app I think, “God, this is funky. I just want to be able to do what I did on my desktop five minutes ago.” When is that shift going to happen with people? Is there a defining thing that might make that happen? We can’t tell the future but at the same time, it seems like a really big mind shift that we’re asking out of our customers.

Chris: Well, not only that but you know the experience on the mobile device, for the most part, is kind of average. People are doing it because it’s quick, it’s easy, it’s in my pocket, it’s in my purse, “I need to do this.” Wanting to do it on a mobile device, I think is where the next stage is. We’re starting to see customers that just prefer it. I don’t think that we’re there yet. And part of that is going to be on the companies that are going to say, “Well, we need to listen to our customer” and say, “Well, what do you want out of the mobile experience?” You know, and deliver that. I think the more companies do that, the more that that mobile channel will evolve and we’ll get to that point where people are going to say, “Well, it’s kind of easier to do in mobile than in another place.”

Kelly: Going back to the analytics piece, how deep do you think companies should delve into mobile when they start? Let’s say you are a company that doesn’t have really anything going on in mobile but you really want to make sure you’re getting a wide grasp of everything that’s happened with it. Do you recommend going full force in analyzing every little thing that a customer is doing, or just kind of taking a broad brush and going over, “Okay well, how long are they visiting the site,” those sort of simple analytics? How deep should these analytics get?

Chris: I think that when you’re starting, if you’re starting from scratch, I think the first thing you need to do is find out who your mobile customers are. And sometimes that might have to just be…let’s know first what our desktop customers like, and then what can we ascertain from that that might make mobile sense? Then once you define who your customers are, then what is it that you want to be able to do with this mobile journey?

Stay tuned for Part II of the Q&A!