The importance and impact of mobile marketing is undeniable. We witnessed a transition from desktop to laptop computers first, and now the trend towards hand-held devices. According to the Pew Research Center, 56% of adults in the US have a smartphone, and 35% have a tablet computer.
The numbers might be lower elsewhere in the world, but that’s an indication of future growth opportunities.
Device manufacturers are, not surprisingly, doing whatever they can to encourage the explosion. In the UK, even one of the major supermarkets, Tesco, is producing its own tablet.
Google’s Motorola arm is seeking to attract so-called “second-generation adopters” with it’s Moto G smartphone. It sells, contract-free, for just $179 in the US — yet has numerous high-end features.
HTC, Samsung, and Sony all have models aimed at the same market, which is characterized by people who simply want the cheapest machine.
But with all this focus on the expanding market and how to sell to it, is there a danger we’re forgetting the human element?
Mobile devices might well be seen as an extension of their owners’ persona, but they still need a person on the end. Even the most advanced smartphone never bought anything itself.
Are we getting wrapped up in the technology and the delivery method at the expense of the end-user’s perception of the brand or product?
If we are, we risk losing touch with the very people we’re trying to get our message in front of.
Some flesh on those bones
We’ve become, through necessity, a data-driven as well as a creative breed, so let’s deliver some data to support the hypothesis.
In an article on the Forbes website entitled “Fifty Essential Mobile Marketing Facts,” we can see that 95% of people used their mobiles to search for local information, and of them, 59% visited in person. About 74% used their mobile while shopping, and 79% made a purchase as a result.
These people aren’t at home, on the train, or in the office; they’re out in the real world. They’re using their device as an assistant, not directly as a purchasing instrument. The importance of this person-to-person retail interaction is underlined by a Time article that notes the reversal of “showrooming,” with 65% of respondents saying they would search online, but actually visit the store to buy.
B2B needs F2F, too
Face-to-face contact is just as important in the business-to-business sector. It may be a much smaller planet, with virtually instantaneous communication between any number of points, but sometimes you have to put the technology to one side and go and “press the flesh.” (Hey, it works for Presidents … ).
Thom Singer, author of The ABCs of Networking, points out that “when we shortchange the face-to-face, we shortchange the relationship. It’s easy to replace a vendor you’ve never met ….”
But meeting your customers, whatever their size, does more than just foster engagement and cement your business relationship. It can also be more efficient because our innate ability to understand body language helps clarify message and accelerate understanding.
The ongoing value of personal meetings in global trade is reflected in the growth of companies like Australian-based S.O.N. (-). Their worldwide network of serviced offices enables companies to have an international presence when and where they need it, while still being able to manage expenses through short-term, lease-free occupancy.
The new wave
Data is vital to effective marketing. Demographics and analytics reveal details we never had before and allow much more accurate and effective targeting of campaigns. In an increasingly competitive world, better information gives us an edge.
But we mustn’t forget who we’re delivering to. First adopters play games, watch movies, shop online, etc. They are, to some extent, a mature market. We already know a lot about them.
The new wave are second adopters. These people don’t care about the technology. They’re not necessarily looking for a gadget to shop with; many of them simply want information retrieval while shopping. If we’re going to engage with them, it will be by doing it on their level and, to recall the 1960s cult classic TV series, The Prisoner, we’d better remember that they not just numbers, they are real people.