2012 was a year of tremendous evolutionary shift in consumer behavior and brand engagement. This shift was enabled primarily by the mobile device, offering unparalleled instantaneous consumer access to brands and fueling a (r)evolution that has toppled traditional B2C marketing and ushered in a new world order C2B model of consumer brand engagement.
As we enter 2013, it is important to retrospectively digest learnings from the maturation of mobility over the course of the past twelve months. The following is intended to clearly articulate the fundamental lessons learned from current state mobility and to serve as a guidepost for the continued advancement of the medium as the primary interface for brand and consumer marketing engagement:
Lesson 1. It’s No Longer About Mobile, It’s About Mobility
There is no first, second or third screen – there are only screens.
Regardless of their uniqueness in form factor or function, connected screens are simply humanized interfaces allowing us to communicate with and experience a digitally optimized world.
How do we address a fundamental shift from technology-focused marketing models to one of experience-centricity?
We must begin with an understanding that any technology is, at best, merely an enabler of a much greater objective – the creation of superior, additive user experiences for consumers that offer the ability to move or be moved freely and easily by removing barriers of time and space.
Lesson 2. Mobility Blurs the Lines of Medium Demarcation
In ignoring the experience-driven revolution led by mobility, marketers and technologists alike have chosen a path of least resistance and created additional siloed channels for consumer engagement, dismissing the subtly nuanced gray matter that exists between disparate channels made up of situational determinants and connected consumer behavior.
Each device sojourns the journey between consumer and brand, but this momentary device-specific engagement does not define the experience.
Marketers in this new order of constant connectivity must devise strategies for a multi-screen consumer experience, allowing for the narrative of the brand to be transported from touchpoint to touchpoint in a transmedia engagement model where the technologies used are no longer the focal point.
Lesson 3. The Goal is to be Additive to Personal Experience
The smartphone is intensely personal, intimately integrated into our social graphs, superior in its contextual awareness of time and space, hyper-connected and nearly always within arm’s reach. As such, the smartphone has, in essence, become a very natural extension of our human selves.
An increased focus on solving for use cases unique to mobility, providing additive functional utility that increases efficiencies, must be the primary emphasis in effective, sustainable mobility strategy.
The user experience is defined by the utility it provides. Technologies and products can be commoditized, experiences cannot.
Lesson 4. Mobility Exists in Context
The mobile medium represents the most powerful mechanism for delivering contextually relevant consumer-brand communications yet experienced in marketing. Marketers who effectively solve the complexities associated with the mobility will provide unique experiences for consumers, irrespective of the constraints of time or space, in ways differentiated, highly relevant, and intensely personal.
To flourish in this new environment, marketers must be constantly accessible as well as prepared to anticipate – prepared to provide the tools to allow consumers to pull information from them when required, but they must also be prepared to initiate engagement with contextual relevance and personalization.
Lesson 5. Mobility is Transitional
The consumer experience is the primary consideration and that experience is, by its nature, transitional. The success or failure of any future marketing effort will be defined in the execution of transitions – the transitions from medium to medium, dialogue to dialogue, and from context to context.
Anticipating transitions and communicating with consideration of context is where the battle for consumer hearts and minds will be won.
It is important to remember that experience is not a product of technology – it is a product of emotion. From positive emotions come connections, and from connections come relationships. And isn’t building relationships with consumers the objective anyway?