“If you don’t have a mobile strategy, you don’t have a future strategy.” Eric Schmidt, Google
Mobile is much more important than you may think; at least the customer perception (and behavior) tells us so. Based on a recent study by eMarketer, the customers are always on and already using mobile devices everywhere anytime. They are frustrated because the brand experience on different devices are subpar at best, and customer expectation of brands to get smooth experience on all devices far exceeds the reality of lacking responsive websites and siloed applications. Furthermore, there is also a substantial reality gap for the senior IT leaders who see mobile as transformational and strategic (71%) whereas only 18% of them have a comprehensive mobile strategy.
However, this is also an opportunity for many brands to lead the revolution and outperform the competition by investing in their mobile ‘sense’.
When I talk about mobile sense, I am not just talking about cell phones; now tablets, beacons, wearables, watches, glasses – even your thermostat is part of the ‘mobile’ eco-system – anything that you (or itself) can interact with on the go. Internet of Things (IoT) are not just for geeks in Silicon Valley anymore, it will quickly penetrate to our daily lives in every level, and every company should start designing their products and services around not just mobile and web but also around IoT.
In order to build a mobile strategy, there is some homework that brands need to focus on.
First one is to determine on the brand positioning among competition to provide the best possible customer experience for the target audience.
Customer Experience (UX in software engineering term) is the key success factor for companies to grow revenues, profitability and the customer base. Forrester started measuring the Customer Experience index (CXi) in the recent years and it is apparent that the CX leaders grow much faster than the rest which is no surprise.
Customer Experience index consists of two dimensions: accessibility and functionality. As an example, for an international calling service company, the key accessibility factor is the low price and the key functionality factor is the simplicity of the service. If you can offer a very simple service with a low price, you bet you will get many happy customers who have great experience with your service. This has been my goal in TEL3 where I lead the product and business development along with the marketing strategy.
For the mobile ‘sense’, brands need to concentrate on ‘accessibility’, being accessible from any device and ‘functionality’, offering all features on all these devices with the most simple user interface. This is of course a great challenge because it requires a new development style and deep resources to catch up with the fragmented devices and new technologies that is appearing every day. Hence this is not just a one off project, it has to be a life style of the brands to continue investing in mobile and position their brand at the best possible place considering customer expectations, competitor’s positioning and of course financial resources.
Some brands only focus on mobile applications (as an example ‘Uber’, ‘Shopkick’ due to their business models), some industries are leading the wave due to tremendous financial strength and also fast paced customer behavior changes (as in the case of Comcast, users expect cable companies to stream all programs on all devices – ‘always on’.)
Mobile adoption usually starts with one or two mobile optimized landing pages. As the next step, many brands develop a second experience for users that is a stand-alone mobile optimized website where some of the functionalities are available for mobile users. However, considering almost half of the emails are read on mobile devices, brands now have to have mobile optimized pages for every content, every offer and every communication. This requires a more sophisticated approach such as designing the website on a responsive framework so every page looks exquisite on desktops, tablets and phones.
The next phase is convergence of apps and websites via ‘web services’ and ‘deep linking’ so users can have seamless experience between multiple devices, and switch content/data back and forth. Comcast, Directv, almost all the cable and dish companies now offer seamless experience where you can start to watch a movie on one device and complete it on another. Besides, Facebook’s new app engagement ads made deep linking to your app even more important. Twitter, Google, Youtube, Urban Airship all follow suit, adding deep linking into their advertising or service platforms to enable brands to provide more engaging experiences to their audiences regardless of where they consume the media or the service. Google recently introduced a new feature that its search engine can now launch your favorite music apps when you search a band or artist on your cell phone.
Expanding your digital assets to physical assets is the next chapter in mobile evolution. Beacons, Internet of Things allow physical devices and/or locations to interact with mobile devices. The opportunities here are endless. Furthermore, penetration of digital wallet into our daily lives, initiatives led by PayPal, Google and Apple is another hot topic.
These two major trends will shape the future of shopping and eventually there will be no company that is immune from this change. Digital wallet and interaction with IoT are both presented in the top right of the chart.
The second step is to understand the persona of the customers, their world views and behaviors with the mobile devices.
Brands already know many things about their customers, including purchase, behavior, web and even mobile analytics data. Furthermore, many companies conduct detailed market research studies, prepare tens of papers to learn more about their customers.
However, many of the results of these only help with some gradual improvements in mobile strategy. Brands need to think outside of the box to innovate and make valueable changes with their products and marketing to exceed expectations – which is the only way to improve CEi.
On my next post, I will discuss the role of design thinking in strategy and innovation, plus some interesting and helpful tools such as ‘semiotic square’ and ‘kano model’ for strategy and product development. The last article in the ‘mobile sense’ series will be about new developments and changes in mobile marketing and mobile service platforms, including ad networks and push notification services.