The Intimacy of Mobile

How does the personal attachment we have with our mobile devices change the experiences we, as marketers, create?

In marketing, we used to talk about the personal computer as the “lean forward” experience; but now that relationship almost seems removed when you think about how intimate our interactions and connections are with our smartphones and tablets. In research by Esther Swilley from Kansas State University, she found that the feeling we get when we misplace our mobile phones is similar to the panicked feeling we get when the family pet goes missing. And in a study with Millennials, Cisco found that more than half would rather lose their wallets or purses before losing their smartphones or mobile devices.

Why do we have these personal relationships with our mobile devices?

The strongest tie to the device may be due to the form factor and our interaction with the device. The fact that we carry the device in our hands and touch it directly makes for a stronger bond. Also, because we use it for multiple communication forms like email, content creation (i.e., photos, etc.), social networking, and voice reinforces its importance in our lives. All of these communication avenues become even more important as we continue to have a very dispersed network of family and friends. Finally, the movement to forgo landlines makes the mobile phone essential.

So how are we, as marketers, trying to leverage the attachments consumers have with these devices into experiences that better resonate?

As the head of digital experience at my company, I not only drive the digital strategy but also the user experience, and it’s these two pieces that are essential in leveraging consumer engagement. The marrying of business goal solutions, platform capabilities, and a deep consumer understanding are the foundation blocks. We, as an industry, have been doing website person development for a long time, but in the mobile space it’s important to take these personas into a space where we not only understand attitudes, mindset, and the relationship to devices, but also have a deeper picture of the functional role the devices play in people’s lives. This greater level of understanding for how they are attached will allow for the development of stickier applications. In my last column, I mentioned the issue that all application developers are having with sustaining application adoption.

By not just focusing on the brand or the product, but around the need and the role the devices play in consumers’ lives, we can create more successful experiences.

What are some of your favorite and more memorable mobile brand experiences?

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