It is a given now that we live in an always-connected digital world. In addition to the high-speed connections at home, consumers are using an array of devices like laptops, tablet computers, and data-enabled phones. There are Wi-Fi hotspots in everything from airports to truck stops, and super-fast 3G and 4G connections available across the country – even underground on cellularly-connected trains.
This greater connectedness has caused some profound changes in the ways marketers interact with people. Mobile marketing is a crucial part of these changes. Here are some thoughts on the ways in which mobile is driving changes in digital culture.
It’s not just a phone – it’s a megaphone: Last Monday night, some friends and I were catching the football game at a new bar in my neighborhood. I looked forward to enjoying the $0.50 wings, $3.00 drafts, and a good football game between the New Orleans Saints and the San Francisco 49ers. Unfortunately, the service in this establishment was atrocious and the manager seemed uninterested in doing anything about it. By the third quarter, my friends and I had commented on this new place on Facebook, Yelp, Foursquare, and Twitter. Before the end of the quarter, a mini-debate had broken out on my profile page about it.
The success of this place will not hinge on a couple of comments in social media. But what’s amazing is how, in a connected world, people can share their opinion on something in nearly real time. Facebook announced in July that it has 150 million mobile users, up by 50 million in April of this year. Increasingly, mobile media is social media, and vice versa. As marketers add social strategies to harness the power of word-of-mouth, they need to consider how mobile fits into that strategy.
Ignorance was never bliss: Consumers are more empowered than ever, it’s true. In addition to disgruntled customers broadcasting their disgruntlement to their social networks, consumers have access to unprecedented levels of information on every conceivable subject. Ever made a purchase at a store only to find the same product on sale somewhere else? That really shouldn’t happen anymore. Stores like Sears and Amazon have noticed eye-raising numbers of large appliances being purchased via their mobile sites. Consumers are standing in one store while using their mobile devices to buy that flat-screen TV or dishwasher in another.
Harnessing this ability can reap benefits for a mobile-savvy marketer. Hewlett-Packard recently conducted a campaign where its products in store came labeled with text message short codes that provided the CNET review of the item. Text messaging is a ubiquitous technology and facilitating consumer’s own research reinforces how HP stands behind its products (and provides some consumer data, too).
Permanent campaigning: Just as politicians need to be constantly on the campaign trail raising money, appearing on the 24-hour news networks, and still finding time to govern, companies today need to shift from “efforts” and “campaigns” to an always-on mode. In our digital world, consumers are constantly browsing and searching, and every stroke of the keyboard is another chance someone is looking for you. Mobile is an important element of this ongoing shift from the intermittent burst of campaigning to a permanently ongoing communications strategy.
Search is a key part of this shift. Searches from mobile devices are predicted to account for 20 percent of all searches by 2012. There is always someone searching for your business from somewhere. This type of activity doesn’t fit into the old mold of a “campaign.” A search strategy – mobile and desktop, paid and organic – needs to match consumer behaviors, and that means being on all devices, all the time.
As digital media has increasingly changed the marketing landscape, it’s important to keep in mind how crucial a role mobile devices are playing in driving those changes. Consumers carry their phones literally everywhere. Seventy-two percent of people say they’ve used a cell phone in the bathroom (and 28 percent of people are lying). In the permanently connected world, your marketing plans need to also be permanently connected.