We live in a mobile world. Fast-moving developments in smartphones, tablets and other devices mean that, according to Cisco, approximately seven billion mobile devices were in use by the end of 2013.
With recent research by comScore revealing that one in three online minutes is now spent beyond the desktop, mobile and tablet devices are moving away from being secondary devices and fast becoming the primary experience.
Our mobile devices have become the remote controls to our lives, influencing how we shop, inform and entertain ourselves and connect with one another. We look to mobile technology to maximise every moment in our day and the immediacy it offers has driven consumer expectations to a new high, particularly around service.
The dramatic shifts we are seeing in behaviours are posing enormous challenges for businesses scrambling to keep up with the pace of change, as mobile opens up a wide range of opportunities to connect with consumers.
Time is running out for businesses that fail to take mobile seriously. IBM research shows that “consumers expect transactions to be easier on mobile than they are offline (51 per cent) or on a desktop computer (50 per cent).” Consumers are no longer waiting for brands to catch up and, crucially, businesses need to think beyond the mobile transaction to the wider influence of mobile.
The question is how can brands move at the speed of the increasingly demanding and untethered customer?
Amaze has identified four key steps that brands must take for commercial success in today’s mobile-driven territory.
Businesses must understand the changing behaviours and expectations of consumers across their customer bases within the different stages of the purchasing cycle. From a shopping perspective, consumer mindset is key and there is a minefield of variance. Research from InMobi and Mobtext indicates that there is a huge difference in buying patterns for ‘big ticket’, ‘predetermined’ and ‘functional’ purchases. This means that brands need to understand not only when people shop but where, how and why, as well as what they are buying and how this varies by device, location and category.
To attribute a commercial value to mobile, businesses must be able to identify how it impacts across the sales lifecycle, from marketing channels, social media and customer care and support. Pinpointing behavioural overlaps within the digital ecosystem, for example between second-screening and pre-shopping and between payments and customer care is the key to unlocking mobile value.
As the power of mobile ‘influence’ has quickly overtaken that of mobile ‘selling’, businesses must make sure that they have the right mobile platform in place, allowing target audiences to engage and use online content and services when and where necessary.
As well as choosing the right mobile platform for your business, whether a responsive, adaptive or bespoke mobile website, there are also apps to consider.
Previously, assumptions were made about a type of platform being better suited to a business based on its site’s content and functionality. Now, however, these distinctions no longer exist. There really is no right or wrong answer; the key is in understanding the target audience and the context within which a mobile platform will be used.
Responsive, adaptive and bespoke mobile sites undoubtedly all have a role to play in putting mobile at the heart of the customer experience, but the ultimate decision about which mobile development path a business should pursue must be built around the ‘moment of truth’ for the customer. This could be purchasing a train ticket in transit, accessing the latest offer before purchasing in-store or comparing prices before a weekly grocery shop.
The third step is all about businesses recognising the importance of connecting with their target audience at the right time and in the right context. It is crucial to identify the moments and messages that will drive a real value-exchange with the consumer. Retailers, for example, have shown some initial resistance to the advent of ‘showrooming’, with 80 per cent of retailers surveyed (by Edgell Knowledge Network and eBay Local) expecting to see sales reduce by five per cent due to the practice. Whilst this opposition is in part due to business readiness, or lack of it, it highlights the importance of responding to customers in real time.
We are a nation of media multi-taskers, habitually second-screening, ‘meshing’ (communicating via other devices about a TV programme being watched) and ‘stacking’ (communicating via other devices about other activities whilst watching TV).
These multi-tasking behaviours are opening up a wide range of opportunities for situational selling, developing more relevant customer and household connections and creating promotional opportunities.
The final step in putting mobile at the heart of the customer experience concerns visibility and managing and generating demand. The wide variety of opportunities to be found online demonstrates the level of influence mobile has on consumers. As well as partnerships and strategic media opportunities, businesses need to ensure that they are digitally optimising all of their online brand touchpoints for mobile, from eCRM to geo-targeted ads, digital payments and proximity marketing in a retail or out-of-home context.
Additionally, as part of an integrated digital and business approach, mobile strategy requires strong integration with other departments as well as C-level sponsorship and a cross-departmental working group with a shared understanding of the customer experience, measurement framework and technology investment required.
Those that stand a chance of succeeding will have to think differently. Rather than focusing on ‘mobile’, they need to consider mobility, moment and need; commercial agility is vital to keep up with changes. Taking these insights into account will help companies understand how situational relevance can be converted into a rewarding and commercially beneficial customer experience.
With the right systems and analytics in place, brands can enhance their mobile customer experience and reap the commercial rewards. But only if a long term, iterative approach is adopted.