Were you late in accepting that social media would completely change the public relations and marketing industry? Many of our peers were, and judging by a lot of the work and thought leadership right now, they’re missing the boat on mobile, too.
Although age is the primary indicator of mobile influencing consumer behavior today, we know that as demographics change and more users have smart phones, behavior, content consumption and receptivity to marketing messages of the general public will change, too.
The research is overwhelming.
- eMarketer’s Mobile Usage Forecast indicates more than half of US mobile users will have a smartphone by the end of next year, with the highest penetration between 25-55 and the prized 18-24 demo not far behind.
- Pew’s research shows 63 percent of U.S. adults now access the Internet through a mobile device like a cell phone, laptop, ereader, or tablet.
- Two-thirds of US consumers with smartphones have used the devices to aid shopping, according to a report by research firm Leo J. Shapiro and Associates. The February 2012 survey also found that 38 percent of respondents researched products on their smartphones while shopping at a physical store.
- Pew also shows that 58 percent of smartphone owners use “geosocial and location-based services,” like maps, Yelp and Foursquare.
Marketers need to be thinking “mobile first” today. Rather than building a robust website and retrofitting a 10 page mobile-specific site as a tag-on, brands should build for mobile AND THEN build something to work on clunky desktops.
Even if your site today doesn’t have much mobile traffic, it will. Soon. Responsive design and progressive enhancement are compelling approaches to satisfy both audiences by focusing on a longevity strategy that inoculates short-term behavior shifts.
And let’s not just focus on websites. Mobile is… by definition, mobile.
According to Google’s research, 88 percent of those who look for local information on their smartphones take action within a day. That stat is stunning and indicative of where we’re headed… real time mobile search, action and ROI. We need to be thinking beyond URLs on broadcast and print advertisements. Beyond QR codes on event flyers. We need to be thinking real-time calls to action that have immediate payoff. Mobile happens in the real world — untethered from desks and monitors and cables and wires. We need to think of adding value to real-world experiences, which is possible anywhere with a cell signal (i.e. just about everywhere).
Beyond web browsing, social engagement and search, mobile currency is growing from infancy to maturity thanks to near field communication technology and services like Google Wallet and Dwolla. In fact, Pew says mobile payments may replace cash and plastic by decade’s end.
Okay, so mobile is not just coming; it’s here. What now?
- Research your target audiences, determine their mobile behavior.
- Design mobile brand experiences that add value based on that behavior.
- Don’t just put a QR code on stuff (see #2). Add value.
- Challenge yourself to think mobile first.
- Measure. Evaluate. Adjust.
Lastly, if you don’t own a smart phone, go buy one. Today. Acquiring mobile and tablet technology should be equated with buying a new suit for that first “real job” out of college. In 2012, owning, using and understanding mobile tech is a necessary cost to do your job.
We will soon scoff at the clunky desktop machines many of us think as the tool for best accessing the world wide web. Market behaviors are evolving, quickly, and I’d rather be steering the boat with the scoffers than swimming after it, choking on the waves.