Time for Mobile Experimentation
When was the last time you heard someone declare, “It’s the year of mobile.” Don’t worry, I’m not going to say it; however, the mobile market is becoming more pronounced (234 million Americans age 13+ are mobile subscribers), and brands are finding ways to integrate mobile into existing efforts. Just look at Nike’s new GPS running app, Pizza Hut’s ordering app, or any one of the mobile products ESPN offers.
As I type, I am sitting in our London office as part our global work exchange program. Prior to leaving the country, I called AT&T to add an international data-roaming plan. The customer service agent asked me how many MB of data I would need for my ten-day trip. I had no idea, so I asked him to check how many I usually use in a week. His answer? 800 MB. My choices: 50, 100 or 200. My expenses had only been approved for the 50 MB option, so I went with that and opted to keep data roaming turned off, except in an emergency.
I cannot tell you how many times I have been tempted to check email, look at Twitter, check-in on Foursquare, upload a twitpic, pull up a map or search for a restaurant. I’m constantly tempted because it’s what I usually do. So, when I’m sitting on the tube (the equivalent to sitting in traffic during rush hour), I’m always only one finger swipe away from seeing what everyone is up to. Aren’t we all?
We talk about an “always-on” culture: one where we’re all constantly connected through the Internet and our increasingly intelligent smartphones, but I hadn’t really stopped to think about it until I was unplugged. My iPhone is literally my lifeline to the world. I realize that right now I am still in the minority; however, according to a report from Nielsen in March of this year, smartphones are expected to account for 33% market share by Q4 2010 and 50% by Q3 2011. Do you know what percentage of your customers fit into the current 33% or the predicted 50%?
If you don’t – here’s the good news. There are a couple examples of successful one-off tactics, but nobody is winning here yet. This is very much a trial-and-error period, but you MUST start trying. Brands that jump in now and hone their mobile strategy will be well positioned for success as smartphone penetration continues to increase over the next few years. It is still early enough that consumers are willing to accept less than flawless execution; however, more and more, consumers expect a seamless experience, and they will gravitate towards brands that can create one.
Mobile is the ultimate channel: consumers are constantly attached to an endless stream of the information they want and need. It’s the channel where direct messaging (via text), social media, search, sites, and digital media intersect. Mobile also provides the perfect vehicle for tying online activities, like search, and offline activities, like shopping, together. As you can imagine, there are huge business implications here.
More than any other channel, mobile allows for the delivery of targeted, relevant, personalized information, when and where it matters most. I’ll illustrate what I mean with another example. Before I left for London, I stopped by the spa where I usually purchase my facewash. They were out. I went back out to my car, and searched “Sonya Dakar Austin” on my phone. Another retailer, about 10 minutes from where I sat, popped up first. I “clicked-to-call,” confirmed that they had the product and drove there immediately. The whole transaction took 30 minutes from search to purchase. This is just one example of how much retailers stand to gain by optimizing their mobile search terms to deliver relevant, (usually localized) results. And that’s just one example; consider the possibilities for your brand! Mobile is increasingly relevant to your consumers, which means it should be relevant to your brand.
I’m going to call it the “time for mobile experimentation.” Start testing the waters if you’re not already. Test, learn, and test again.
What about you? Are you playing in mobile?