Increasingly, users are gravitating to the mobile device as their computing platform of choice, therefore, brands and their content should be meeting these users where they shop, play, find information and connect to their social graph. In short, mobile should be the force driving the hand of more dynamic content and, by extension, a more dynamic customer and user experience – Altimeter is calling this the Dynamic Customer Journey – something we’ll be focused on across all of our research over the course of 2012 and beyond.
Altimeter’s research has uncovered just how much a concern mobile is for the execs in charge of content marketing in most organizations, yet users’s needs are still not being met. With the US leading nearly all large nations – and developing nations – in smartphone penetration; nearly one in two mobile devices is a smartphone in 2012, according to Google (source – note India and Russia data not included in data set.)
Data from Google’s Our Mobile Planet Database
Smartphones are creating new experiences for larger and larger swaths of the population. Why, then, is the bulk of content still not mobile-smart or at least mobile-friendly? Strides are being made, for sure, but the pace f content adaptation compared to behavior modification is glacial at bet.
Users are looking to consume content on the mobile platforms we’re relying on for so many other tasks, but judging by the number of those using mobile for their primary means of consuming news, as one example, it’s not mainstream yet. The experience is still not where we’d like it to be. Far more of us expect a parity of experience with our computers (source) before we become “mobile first” and we’re not there yet.
Google Data Shows The Small Percentage Of Us Ready To Use Mobile As Our Primary News Devices And The Majority That Expect A Desktop-Like Experience
The challenges of serving these users are manifold at the moment and even the most well-financed campaign to get content in front of a mobile audience faces challenges that seem to grow with every new iteration of mobile technology on the market. Focusing on overcoming the technical hurdles to establish a dynamic store of content is key:
- A unique and different snowflake, just like everyone else. Android, the leader in smartphone OS share, is excessively fragmented. The open-source nature of Google’s mobile operating systems means a lot of new and interesting use cases for the technology – and some potentially not so useful – but it also means the potentially testing against a field of “popular” devices in the hundreds, each with their own, unique content needs based on OS version, screen real estate and device horsepower. This is not likely to change until there’s a material shift in how Google goes to market. Partnering with wireless carriers as the gatekeepers of device technology assures us this will remain a chaotic set of specs for some time to come.
- On the (mobile) internet nobody knows you’re a dog. Discover in an app marketplace is one of the biggest barriers to realizing and investment in an application or content-backed initiative. As the number of apps and tools grows, expecting users to navigate to content is an increasingly risky bet. Providing great mobile content can be a great jumping-off point to provide data to mobile-hungry users whose dynamic journey has taken them away from print, TV and other content and marketing standbys, they just need to weed you out from the hundreds of other also-rans that clutter the market today.
- Everything old is new again, if you tweak it. QR codes in and of themselves are nothing too special, nor are many of the “new” technologies like augmented reality that are bringing a new layer of content to users on their smartphones and tablets. The problem with many of those technologies is that there’s little payoff once the user has learned the technology, installed the app or tool to interact with them only for little or no payoff. Taking existing assets and enhancing them with new technologies whether mobile interaction, QR/Tags, Augmented reality or even Near Field Communications can expand the addressable audience for these new types of content; mating the experience with unique content that’s not available elsewhere drives the experience home.
What are some steps to keep on the dynamic customer’s path by serving them when mobile?
- Focus On Flakes of Content, Not on the Blizzard of Devices. Making use of web content is not passé by any stretch. Many are quick to call a winner in the HTML5 vs. native mobile debate, any such verdict is premature. The level-headed argument is that “it depends.” In the current climate of mobile device overflow, putting a native app wrapper round the content to ensure solid, rah content will play “natively” on various devices is a solid bet. Trying to draw a line in the sane and playing kingmaker among mobile platforms is a fool’s errand. This may mean trading in some unique, device-native tools for now, but it’ll mean heavy savings in development cost.
- Choose the top dog, there are some out there. Application aggregators have grown in number – and have seen acquisition interest from major players in the space – as a necessary layer in the mobile application ecosystem. Understanding how these tools can cater to a certain platform or audience can allow for tighter targeting – and therefore higher levels of discovery – for an app or other mobile content.
- Embrace the new, with momentum from the old. Macy’s department store is often lauded for their success with QR codes, however, it was not the codes themselves that were the reason for the success of their “backstage pass” campaign, rather, it was the creation of unique deals, enticements and available-nowhere-else information like special holiday opening hours that rewarded shoppers interacting with the campaign. The prime location promoting the mobile tools leading customers and would-be shoppers to the new content? In print.
The conversation around addressing the dynamic customer journey for mobile is much longer than the above discussion on technology. Still to be considered is the impact of new layers of content that arise as more devices and objects come online, a side-effect of the sentient world – another of Altimeter’s research themes – and one that I touched upon in a recent post. Expect to see this conversation continued here in the coming weeks.
What are some of the ways in which you’ve seen companies adapt to the dynamic customer journey on mobile? What are some of the other challenges you have? These are conversations we’re looking to have with clients and others and want to keep the dialogue going. Share your perspective via a trackback link or in the comments below, we’re excited for your input to our research.