This guest blog post from Mickey Alam Khan, editor in chief of Mobile Marketer, the world’s largest mobile advertising and marketing publication, and also Mobile Commerce Daily, the No. 1 mobile commerce title.
Marketers should keep an eye on four trends that will shape the business environment in the next five years.
A defining characteristic of these trends is mobile-enabled decision-making and the expectations born of such power. So, start taking notes.
Consumers expect information at their fingertips. Consider these services: email, text, photos, news, books, music, games, address book, television, video, calendar, calculator, weather check-up, maps and Web. Consumers spend more time conducting these activities on mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets rather than desktop and laptop computers – a switch in consumer behavior in less than 10 years. Consumers are now accustomed to extreme convenience in this right-here-right-now world. This impatience will inform their buying decisions across the board. Which means mobile-friendly Web sites, applications, optimized emails, mobile commerce, SMS programs to deliver timely alerts, QR codes for video plays, mobile payment options, beefed-up local search capabilities and highly targeted ads that do not sour the mood. Speed in delivering these services is key.
Uniform customer experience and branding across mediums and channels. Consumers do not shop channels. They shop brands. They expect the same level of service across stores, online, call centers, catalogs and on mobile. The ease of searching, shopping and buying is paramount. The look-and-feel matters now more than ever, from four-inch screen to 60 inches, from catalog cover to store windows. Dropping the ball in one channel is not just a lost sale – it is a lost customer. Ensuring that the brand’s values translate to a small screen is challenging. Hanging on to the customer’s attention on that small screen is even more challenging. Studying the brand’s particular customer base and its behavioral patterns are especially critical, influenced as this is by their shopping and interacting with other brands with mobile offerings.
Marketing and privacy: a difficult tango. The extreme personal nature of smartphones and tablets will bring advertising and marketing quite close to consumers – uncomfortably close, many would say. Expect new protocols to emerge over the collection of vast amounts of personal data and their application to targeted marketing. The value exchange will have to be clearly spelled out. And even that may not be enough to prevent government regulation geared to protecting consumer rights. What will work in brands’ favor is the trust they have earned from their customer base. A mobile sale is the highest badge of trust. It should be earned with respect for the customer’s time, space and tastes. Permission-based outreach based on consumer tastes and behavior as well as geotargeting will redefine marketing. While mobile gets a disproportionately low share of marketing spend, expect that to soon change as time spent on mobile media outpaces every other channel and medium including television and computers.
The first retail door is mobile. So why bang that shut in the customer’s face? Mobile first, mobile always, mobile everywhere, mobile millisecond, trademark sign over all. Do service providers, agencies, brands and retailers really believe that? Consumers still find it difficult to shop on mobile. They still cannot connect the dots from their mobile device to the retail store. Decisions within organizations are still made based on channels. The digital department should no longer exist. And the silo should exist only on the farm. Again, it pays to understand evolving consumer behavior. What are three things a consumer would not leave home without? Keys, wallet and phone. Where is the phone most of the time? On or within three feet of most consumers. What do consumers do when they first wake up? Check the phone. What do they do when they get home from work? Check the tablet. What do they do before going to bed? Check the phone. Marketers and retailers – at least those who get it – regularly count their blessings. Their customers are going to bed right outside their retail door. How would they like to welcome them when they wake up?
Expect to hear some of these issues and trends discussed at the fifth annual Mobile Marketing Day, a Mobile Marketer event co-hosted by the Direct Marketing Association on March 13 in New York.