The previous year saw a massive surge in ownership of smartphones and tablets in the US market. The Indian scenario is set to follow suit with smartphones available at lower and lower price points all the time and growth expected to double in 2012. So the medium is viable; but how is it being used?
In the Indian market, it’s largely being used for promotions: send an SMS to a certain number to enter a contest or receive a promotional code and so forth. While promotional activities have their place in a mobile-based strategy, I think businesses can go a step further and integrate mobile into the shopping experience at more points of contact.
A smartphone or tablet user is going to carry their device around even when they enter a physical store. This gives you multiple opportunities to deliver useful content. Users can scan a bar code and get price details as well as the chance to read reviews by past customers or compare prices and specs with other options. If you don’t have a requested product on hand, you can place an order and let the user track it through their mobile device. Have the same product in another location? Download directions to your customer’s device!
It’s also a great way to run loyalty programs, with customers logging in and earning points every time they visit your locations or purchase your offerings. You can even go beyond this, offering customers free apps that link back to your offering – a personal fitness planner to go with a pair of jogging shoes, a timezone app with a new watch and so on. These kinds of apps need to provide useful, ‘sticky’ content so that they are actually accessed often enough to be a signpost back to your brand.
Whatever you do, don’t just do a few promotions and roll out a bit of optimization on your site and just leave it that. You need to embrace the medium and use it in a way that goes beyond the novelty factor or simply having a me-too presence. A few basic tips to help evolve a meaningful mobile strategy:
- Integrate mobile with other activities: make your mobile activity and team tie in with other elements of your marketing mix , such as e-commerce and loyalty programs.
- Emphasise on user needs: It isn’t all about delivering funky, colourful content; what will make the difference is if your mobile content serves customer needs, which is where things like informational apps come into play.
- Be ready for multiple platforms: There are a number of available platforms in the mobile scene. You’ve got to develop for all the platforms that give you a significant share of your target audience, and you have to make sure that your offerings on these platforms are integrated with the rest of your enterprise infrastructure.
Ultimately, mobile is a platform that goes beyond novelty value. It’s a part of the overall trend towards ubiquitous computing. People are getting used to having instant access to the information and services they want, on the go. Aligning your marketing outreach with this new reality is increasingly vital in this wired world.