In a world where smartphones are getting cheaper and cheaper, more and more people are connecting through mobile technologies. This trend is obvious. What isn’t quite so obvious, however, is what us e-commerce marketers should do with this reality. Should we put all our content on mobile or should we simplify it from our website? Do cell phones and tablets operate in similar ways, or are they distinct? And if so, how? Then there’s question of apps: should I create one, do they work, what technology should I use to make it? Does it make a difference if my business is pureplay or omnichannel? How and when do my customers connect…? You get the idea: the questions are endless.
Yesterday I attended Forrester’s mobile mindshift webinar led by their Vice President and Principal Analyst, Thomas Husson. The webinar was a treasure trove because it contextualized the development of mobile within a wider framework. Instead of answering all these questions directly, it traced a change in attitude. Instead of telling me that mobile is the only way forward, it married the world of mobile with the physical experience of the person using it. It was a refreshing experience.
If mobile is disrupting how we do business, best to work out how it is doing this, before putting reactionary processes in place. Out of this understanding, then, can we build mobile strategies that are both personalized and centred on customer experience.
So, let’s step aside from the mobile frenzy, let’s keep it simple. Here are the top three trends that I learnt from Forrester yesterday.
1. People have bodies: Let's not abstract mobile from this very simple fact
Obvious, but true. Yet the discourse that surrounds this topic so often divorces it from the physical experience of using mobile devices. Mobile doesn’t (and can’t actually) displace many of the existing customer experiences. Rather, it will become progressively more intertwined with it.
An excellent example of this is the way that Walmart have created an app that flips into “store mode” when it detects your geo-location. On their iPhone app you can checkout and browse the store. The trend, then, is not that mobile is a replacement for other platforms, rather that it enhances those platforms. Working out how mobile can reshape your current strategies is therefore key.
2. People move: Connect with them where they are
One of the concepts that struck me most was thinking about mobile as temporally dependent.Thomas Husson called this the “mobile moment”. You might have the most beautifully designed app or site, but if you can’t engage with people in a time-sensitive and personalized way, then it’s really all for nothing. Big data and analytics are key here: the ability to respond to your customer as they need it.
The powerful example that Thomas Husson used was an airline site. If you know that that a customer is going to be checking in in two days, then they might be looking to change a reservation. If you know that the flight is in half an hour, perhaps they are looking to order food or access wi-fi. Then, after the flight perhaps they are looking for lost luggage or to order a taxi? You can adapt your mobile strategy to match their experiences in real-time.
3. People speak: Think big data
According to the webinar, there are currently two billion smartphones in the world: and this is only set to increase. Mobiles unleash potential global competition. Listening to the data that your customers input into their mobiles could never be more important. This can enable you to move from a reactive approach to your customers to one that can forecast their behaviour through data analytics.
Shifting your traditional marketing approach is definitely required by mobile. But before you do that, take time to ground your strategy in simple concepts that can prevent your strategy from becoming too abstracted from the actual behaviour of your customer. And in the meantime, I would definitely recommend that you watch this very insightful webinar.