Seize The Day
Mobile is an industry full of innovation, change and remarkable growth. Indeed, Gartner predicts that this year, mobile phones will overtake PCs as the most common web access device worldwide, and that by 2015, over 80 per cent of the handsets sold in mature markets will be smartphones.
2012 was busy, with developments across devices, software and networks. The release of high profile handsets, including Apple’s iPhone 5 and Samsung’s Galaxy S3, alongside significant software upgrades such as iOS6 and Android JellyBean, all meant that marketers and brands had to continuously assess their mobile presence to ensure that marketing efforts were consistent, and functioned correctly across all platforms.
2012 also saw the launch of the UK’s first 4G network. The incredible potential of 4G to provide consumers with huge bandwidth will fundamentally change the way that consumers access the internet. It will be similar to the impact of broadband when we’d all got used to dial-up.
Key developments in the mobile space shape the way we behave towards and engage with brands. Mobile has a unique ability to connect channels and create seamless consumer experiences. For example, mCommerce allows consumers to shop on the go; social media apps enable customers to share and engage on the go; and location-based apps provide a valuable link between online and offline. Marketers must recognise the unstoppable rise and development of mobile technologies, and prepare for an exciting 2013.
Optimise for mobile
Of the 6bn people on the planet, 4.8bn have a mobile phone, whilst only 4.2bn own a toothbrush, according to research from the Mobile Marketing Association of Asia, demonstrating just how pervasive mobile technology has become.
We have become accustomed to seeing ads and content encouraging consumers to search on the go, or to use QR code readers on our mobile phones. However, many of these search terms and QR codes take consumers to websites that are not optimised for the mobile experience. Indeed, only a third of websites currently have a version that is optimised for mobile. Brands must turn this around in 2013 if they want to engage with consumers on the go.
Marketers must ensure that their websites are optimised for use on mobile and provide good quality apps to make sure the mobile experience is smooth and offers the same level of functionality as the standard website. Consumers will navigate away from clunky, non-functional websites and these brands will miss out on sales and engagement opportunities. Not even the quicker loading times of 4G can save a non-optimised website.
The impact of 4G
The impressive bandwidth that 4G provides will not only transform consumers’ perception of the internet and its capabilities, but will also see far more information shared through, and flowing over, the UK’s cellular networks. Brands must prepare for this, implementing appropriate data collection and analytics tools to ultimately deliver more personalised marketing and engagement.
4G will also see consumers change the way they apportion their time using their mobile phones. The additional bandwidth will ensure that content is delivered more quickly, freeing up time previously spent waiting for loading to complete.
This has two implications: while consumers will have more time in which they can be marketed to, they will also become far more discerning about when they are willing to be marketed to. Marketers must remember the normal rules of engagement here: deliver the right message to the right person at the right time. Understanding customers and their marketing preferences will become increasingly important, as many will be keen to switch off from marketing contact at certain times, bringing a whole new meaning to the term ‘silent mode’.
Furthermore, with 4G tariffs still being established in the UK, data consumption will remain a concern for consumers. Marketers should therefore avoid pushing too much unsolicited rich media content to mobile devices, as this will burn through data limits and result in frustrated consumers who can no longer access the content they want. Finally, while 4G is a game-changer for mobile, wholesale change will not happen overnight. Brands must remember those that have not upgraded to 4G and 4G-ready handsets, and continue to ensure that mobile campaigns perform well, regardless of the device or operating system.
Bridging the online and offline worlds
As smartphone penetration continues to grow, mobile apps that encourage brand engagement and that bring together the online and offline worlds will continue to grow in importance. Some companies are already demonstrating strength in this area. Debenhams, for example, reported that it had generated an additional £1m in sales in five months through a smartphone app that allows customers to scan QR codes in advertising and store windows, and snap product barcodes to display information such as customer reviews.
Location-based mobile services are also well placed to bridge online and offline, allowing brands to communicate with consumers while they are in and around physical stores.
Savvy marketers will look to offer greater rewards for checking in and sharing location-tagged brand endorsement, and to deliver offers and updates to consumers via their mobiles as they approach their brands’ stores and events.
This increasing use of, and reliance on, mobile devices for information and connection to social networks, emails and interests will only strengthen the need for greater mobile optimisation of websites and services.
The pace of innovation in the mobile space shows no sign of slowing. Therefore the importance of mobile to marketing efforts in 2013 cannot be stressed enough. Marketers must recognise, address and master the key developments highlighted here, or face falling behind the curve and losing valuable customers.
Matthew Potter is director of product and propositions, digital, at Experian Marketing Services