Everything you’ve come to understand about the mobile user has changed.
Unlike traditional media channels, mobile is moving fast, driven by consumers’ seemingly insatiable need for the latest hardware and their expanding expectations and use of the technology as a lifestyle enhancement tool. This ever-shifting behavior has made it essential for marketers to change their strategies or risk obsolescence. While it’s always important to be conscious of audience changes and remain flexible in your mobile engagement strategies, aligning your mobile marketing efforts with these three recent trends in mobile audience behavior will make a world of difference for your business and your consumers.
Consumers Shift To Mobile-Only Consumption
While mobile devices remain a tool of convenience in portability and overall user experience, they are no longer considered purely a complement or gateway to desktop or other traditional media consumption. As mobile hardware and connectivity advance, mobile devices can essentially replace nearly an entire room full of electronic equipment and entertainment. As these devices continue to consolidate, consumer consumption will shift to a mobile-only experience.
What does this mean for marketers? While cross-platform activity definitely still exists, marketers must abandon the assumption that TV, desktop, or print will be the main viewing platform–a mindset that typically places the mobile experience at a lower priority. According to Google, just 22 percent of smartphone users are tethered to a computer during their access–demonstrating the increased independence of mobile device usage from other media channels. In fact, the recent xAd/Telmetrics 2013 Mobile Path-to-Purchase study found that two out of five consumers consider mobile their primary media source for purchase-related activity.
If you have not yet maximized your mobile presence to include a soup-to-nuts consumer experience, you’re already late to the game. For those who have, it’s important to stay on top of your consumers’ behavior by obsessing over any and all analytics available; a year from now we will surely be reporting yet another visible shift in mobile user consumption.
Mobile Is No Longer A Last-Mile Media
Another important trend is mobile as an all-purpose medium. Two major factors are driving this trend: location of mobile device access and the increased availability of enhanced mobile experiences. Both have helped solidify mobile devices as always-on consumer companions leveraged throughout the full mobile path to purchase.
Location of mobile access, as well as choice of device, has been identified as an important indicator of user intent and level of urgency surrounding mobile activity–especially purchase activity. The majority of tablet access still occurs at home, demonstrating a diminished level of urgency and often lengthier engagement overall.
But new research has revealed shifts in the location of smartphone access, therefore changing early assumptions that pegged smartphones as an on-the-go device typically used during the last-mile of a consumer path to purchase. Smartphones have emerged as an always-on device that users access at work (71 percent), at the airport (49 percent), increasingly at home (97 percent), and still on the go (83 percent). Because smartphone users are accessing their devices in a growing number of locales, each represents a new opportunity to reach and engage mobile users throughout their mobile activity–moving mobile-optimized experiences to the top of marketers’ lists.
With this expansion of mobile access to an always-on medium, the need for effective and engaging mobile experiences takes top priority. Today, it is now much easier and enjoyable for mobile consumers to search for, decide on, and ultimately make a purchase–all in-device. An even more powerful realization from the xAd/Telmetrics 2013 Mobile Path-to-Purchase is that 50 percent of mobile users are actually turning to their devices during the initial stages of their path to purchase–proving that mobile has moved far beyond its designation as “convenient” to a medium that is driving and deeply affecting the consumer purchase process.
Mobile Conversion Variations By Device
With a firm understanding of recently identified shifts in mobile consumer behavior, marketers can target and engage mobile users by developing mobile-first experiences specific to consumer preferences and conversion behaviors found in smartphone and tablet access. Overall, nearly 60 percent of mobile consumers go on to make a purchase related to their mobile research activity–a strong indicator of mobile’s value in the consumer path to purchase. But these transactions occur very differently related to smartphone vs. tablet access–and these behaviors will continue to shift as the mobile consumer culture expands. Therefore, a one-size fits all approach to your mobile planning will always be a missed opportunity.
Nearly 70 percent of purchases related to a consumer’s smartphone activity are occurring in person. In contrast, a greater percentage of tablet users prefer to convert online (54 percent)–either via PC or in-device. While this provides important insights into the split behaviors of mobile users by device, this doesn’t mean marketers should plan for just offline conversion from smartphone users, or online/PC conversions by tablet users; doing so would essentially alienate more than one-third of your mobile smartphone or tablet audiences. If your goal is to drive conversions and increased ROI from mobile campaigns, then these purchase preferences should be taken into consideration. For example, if research into your audience shows that using a coupon at a store location and calling to place an order drive conversion, both of these tactics should be included in your strategy. Keep this in mind when planning and evaluating the success of your mobile marketing campaigns.
The moral of the story is that mobile marketing is rapidly expanding, so it’s important to stay abreast of constantly evolving research and consumer trends to remain relevant as a brand, business, and marketer. Just remember, mobile marketing is nothing like print, and it’s certainly far from desktop banner advertising, so get to know your mobile audiences, how they behave, where they prefer to interact, and how they convert before allocating funds to a plan built on any tried-and-true marketing of yore.