The smartphone has delivered a marketing channel that is transforming commercial relationships, but don’t treat all mobile consumers the same, Dave Howell warns
The smartphone has changed the marketing landscape significantly. Where the broadcast marketing model once reigned supreme, today more intimate connections can be made with your customers online.
It is, though, a mistake to simply move your marketing messages to the mobile channel without considering how it has transformed the profile of mobile consumers using it. In this new age of the connected customer, a single message does not fit all.
A survey of 10,000 connected consumers by global management consulting firm AT Kearney across various countries, including Nigeria, the USA, China, Japan, Russia and the UK, revealed:
- The internet has become a 24/7 activity. More than half of the survey respondents stated they are connected to the internet nearly every waking hour.
- People go online because it meets four basic, universal needs: interpersonal connection, self expression, exploration and convenience. However, respondents from different countries were more motivated by different factors. For example, in emerging markets and places where offline expression is limited, the ability to express an opinion rates highly, while in more mature markets exploration and convenience matter more.
- Social networks are the places where connected consumers spend the largest amount of their time online. Social networks and social marketing are very effective in generating brand interest and purchases among younger consumers. However, the number of users on a social network is not necessarily an indication of engagement or, importantly, purchases. Furthermore, different social media sites display different usage patterns in different countries.
- While most purchases are still made in-store, more than half of the survey respondents said they prefer shopping online. Connectivity does not mean consumers do everything online, but being connected offers access, speed, convenience and enhances the overall experience.
AT Kearney concluded that connected consumers are not created equal in their behaviours and motivations, in where they get their information and in who influences their opinions. While they share many similarities across the world, there are profound differences from market to market based on demographics, infrastructure and social orientation.
For your business’ marketing messages to effectively leverage the mobile channel, understanding how users of this channel differ is vital to appreciate. Only with tightly targeted messages will your business be able to reach the right people at the right time. Smartphone users are not a homogenous whole, but have distinct profiles that are influenced by their current need, geographical location and propensity to share across their social media networks.
“Knowing your customer should be a central pillar to your customer experience strategy, particularly when you are dealing with mobile,” Oisin Lunny, senior market development manager at mobile marketing company OpenMarket, explains. “Because mobile devices are, above all, personal devices, one should never use the ‘spray and pray’ approach, as your potential customers will smell it a mile away.
“If instead you use highly targeted and relevant outbound mobile messaging to deliver genuine value to your customers, they will see you as a valued partner who is anticipating their needs, rather than a careless broadcaster of advertising.”
Over the last few years, businesses have become obsessed with social media as the new battleground for customers. This is certainly true up to a point, but social media and an understanding of how social channels are used by groups of consumers is critical information to obtain.
“The always connected customer will expect businesses to react instantaneously to their needs,” Gareth Poppleton, managing director of Retail Merchant Services, says.
“Shoppers already expect a highly personalised experience - from the buying to the delivery of goods. The more connectivity consumers have, the more satisfaction they get from the experience. This expectation will only increase as technology develops, so small businesses should ensure all customer touch points, both in-store and online, are integrated to meet this demand.”
Businesses must strive to understand the traits of today’s connected customers. The rules of engagement with these groups is becoming clearer, but there is still work to be done in order for them to be fully understood.