Sometimes it is worth saying the obvious and saying it multiple times: Marketing to mobile-first users has arrived and must be taken seriously.
Consider that according to Mary Meeker’s recently published internet trends report, mobile ads grew by 66% from 2014, compared to just 5% for desktop ads, and the mobile ad market in the U.S. is now estimated at $22 billion, based on data that shows people spending 25% of their time on mobile devices. However, spending on mobile ads still only accounts for 12% of the advertising pie.
This discrepancy points to a tremendous opportunity for mobile marketing and, consequently, mobile engagement, through the rise of the mobile-first mindset among mobile consumers.
Mobile-first refers to the increasing lifestyle trend, in which people turn to their mobile devices as their first point of interaction for most of their communication, information, and entertainment needs. That is a formal way of saying that the mobile device is a physical extension of our lives. The mobile-first phenomenon is the result of our smartphones becoming more and more capable and now so ingrained in our lives that we keep them with us at all times, everywhere we go.
There’s plenty of proof of how entrenched our mobile devices are. Recent research shows that the average mobile user in the U.S. spends five hours per day on the phone. That’s nearly double the time spent watching television, which accounts for only 2.8 hours a day, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Five hours a day seems like a lot and is clearly an opportunity for brands to find opportunities to engage consumers in relevant, timely, and personalized ways. The reality is that brands need to go beyond ads to get to the engagement that drives and elevates the brand to the consumer in its perceived value.
Clearly, if brands are not able to reach their audiences through mobile or are not providing a satisfactory mobile-first experience, they will miss out on new customers, along with sales and mobile engagement opportunities, compared to their competitors who are doing so. The necessity for brands and marketers to adapt to a mobile-first world is unavoidable.
The Steady Path To Mobile First
Before rushing to apply mobile-first strategies, brands must consider the mobile journey of their customers and then set objectives accordingly.
One industry that pioneered in understanding the customer journey is financial services. Financial institutions were some of the first brands to recognize the importance of mobile for their customers. They put an emphasis on mobile engagement via apps because they recognized quickly how often their customers would use their mobile phones to manage their finances. In that way, banking organically became mobile because financial services firms understood their customer journey early on and made sure their strategies matched their objective: to streamline banking for users.
Today’s mobile-first customers are increasingly choosing their financial institution based on the mobile services offered. Mobile dependency within the financial sector is on the rise as customers are demanding access to their accounts and preferred brands at the touch of their fingertips.
Without knowing why customers would use mobile, financial institutions would not have experienced this level of adoption. Before encroaching on a new mobile journey, it is critical to truly understand why it will be beneficial.
Customize The Experience
A critical component of any mobile-first strategy, is personalization.
Today’s mobile apps and services enable consumers to customize how they communicate, shop, and follow news. And as a result, they’ve gained—and come to expect—the capability to interact with their favorite people, brands, and service providers in hyper-personalized ways and to get what they want, when they want it. I would go so far as to say that our personsalization of our mobile experience is one of the most personal things about us as humans today.
In order for brands to ensure personalization, they must put themselves in the shoes of their customers. Marketers can start with what they would want to feel if they were the consumer and then make personalization a foundation of their business.
One way to provide personalized experiences is to reach a customer in their mobile moment. Timing is everything, as they say. For example, a perfect time for a brand to send a customer a personalized offer or coupon is when she is within walking distance of the brand’s retail location. This tactic engages the customer at a critical moment when decisions are made, increasing the likelihood of a purchase while also increasing brand loyalty. Leveraging mobile moments are key to effective marketing campaigns and should be part of brands’ mobile-first strategies.
Taking it back to the financial services example, financial institutions often cater to their members’ preferences for receiving information. Cardholders can personalize how and when they receive alerts for fraudulent activity, rewards, and transactions through any number of cross-channel mobile delivery mechanisms, including in-app push, SMS, phone call, or email.
Global payments company Western Union uses cross-channel mobile marketing to allow its loyalty program members to check their point balances and redeem rewards by using two-way texting (SMS) to a dedicated code. Adding SMS to its capabilities has provided Western Union with the ability to communicate with its members across multiple channels—including SMS, calling in, or via an online portal—so that members can use services in a manner that suites their personal preferences.
The Customer-Centric Purpose Of Mobile
Whether or not your brand is ahead of the mobile curve, the data released by Mary Meeker and others clearly show that now’s the time to think about how you can improve (or develop) your mobile-first strategy. Mobile has the potential like no other medium to transform lives and business. For brands and marketers to unlock that potential, they must create personalized and customized services that enrich consumers’ lives.