iPhones, iPad, tablets and readers – it’s easy to define mobile by the devices we use in the places we go. But, the real revolution in mobile is happening semantically. For a culture on the go, mobile is silently moving from noun to verb. From what we use to how, where, when and why we use it. Fueled by expanding mobile networks, carrier hand-offs, faster processors and more features and form factors, we’re no longer confined by the wall sockets that tether us, but are unbound to move around our world and through the lives we live – mobily. It’s because of the places we go, the people we see and the lives that we live wherever we live them that defining a long-term mobile strategy must first acknowledge the semantic shift from noun to verb. Having a dedicated roadmap to reach mobile consumers is no longer a feature or addendum to an effective program, but central to it and integrated within it.
An Integration Approach
Watch behavior of people in public, and you’ll see a common thread – the dim glow of a blue light on their face posting to Facebook, sending or receiving a text or checking email. Ninety-one percent of American cell phone customers have their phones within arm’s reach 24 hours a day. During that day, depending on their age group, they check email between six and 20 times. They text between 5 and 110 times. Understanding how people navigate their lives through their phone provides insight to a sustainable mobile strategy. For any brand, this considers how a Facebook post can be received on a desktop computer, commented on with a mobile phone and shared through a tablet or within an offline conversation. With consumption and behavior habits blurring across platforms, mobile features and devices, it’s important to find integration points that connect or at least span technologies, geographies and programs. Organizations that can find a cohesive way to align purpose, platform and audience while delivering the experiences that enhance consumers’ daily travels.
Context is King
When assessing the mobile opportunities for your organization, it’s important to understand the mobile context of your customers, constituent, users.
1) Behaviors: Create an archetype for the personalities of your customer base. Where does this person go during the day – the dry cleaner, school, drive-in, restaurant, hiking? Think about how the use of devices (noun) impacts the use habits (verb) of the demographics that make up your customer base. And, don’t fall into the traps of assumption and stereotypes. Seek out knowledge – both anecdotal and concrete – about how your target moves around, through and into the experiences that connect their world.
2) Content: It’s important to assess not only what type of content is most compelling and consumed within the context of the customer’s daily excursion. It’s equally important to understand how your specific content/experience will be accessed and consumed. Assume much of your content will increasingly be consumed on a mobile device of some kind – whether on a cell phone or a tablet. This impacts form, format and other characteristics of your content. Make content consumable for mobile devices to maximize the experience for the consumer. Shorter videos, visually compelling photos, succinct audio clips.
3) Experiences: Understanding the pathways your consumer follows throughout the day can provide insight into how to enhance their experience. Much like how marketers need to understand that it’s not about them in social channels, this concept becomes more relevant when connecting in a mobile context. Are you just repurposing content to be available on mobile devices, or are you looking for ways to enhance the mobile experience? I receive brief text messages from Redbox for a free rental each month. It’s short, plain text and in a format that makes it easy for me to take action at the kiosk. No need for html codes or flash widgets. Just me, my phone and my Redbox text.
4) Measurement: Do you know how often your site, channel, content is accessed through a mobile device? What is the termination rate? Bounce rate? Can you tell which information is accessed the longest through mobile? All of these are indications of when, how and why your information is accessed. And, it’s valuable to know these baseline metrics to understand what content and experiences are more compelling. It also reveals some of the situational context (time of day, length of time on content, etc) that can be used to dial up or modify content pathways.
5) Evolution: There are any number of reports that show estimates on mobile penetration and adoption – from operating systems to devices to downloads. Some marketers make decisions based on those metrics, which are sometimes months old. One of my favorite stories is from a time I was working with a major mobile chip manufacturer. I was in a room with smart marketers and engineers who had helped revolutionize the mobile technology of the time. They were debating whether or not to account for a new feature that some consumers were starting to ask for on their mobile phone. The new feature was music. All of the data pointed to the fact that consumers would never really want to do anything more than talk on their phones. If they wanted music, they could use their Walkman for that. We know how the rest of the story ends. With few exceptions, most would agree that this mobile thing is going to be big. Basing program decisions and mobile investments on the degree of adoption today doesn’t account for the speed of overall adoption. Chances are it takes longer for your company to agree on and launch programs than it does for mobile use patterns to evolve. Look at where your audience will be in six to twelve months, rather than were they’ve been for the previous six or are today. This will help ensure you’re meeting the evolutionary needs of your constituents and customers.
The mobile revolution began years ago. The evolution will continue as networks expand, the tools and toys we use get smarter and there’s more of us connecting in more ways in more places. Viewing mobile as a verb, instead of noun puts our head in a place that our actions can follow.
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