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The era of the smart phone is fully ascendant in 2013. This year Deloitte estimates that the billionth such device will be activated. However, mobile marketing success going forward will be about much more than just numbers. Anticipating how user behavior will evolve will be absolutely crucial to a well-managed mobile marketing budget.
Linear No More
For example, consider the 'second screen' phenomenon. The old paradigm, first on laptops and then on mobile devices, was linear. That is, users would move through channels in succession. Linear consumer behavior is relatively easy to track as one moves from point A to point B to point C.
Now, a new behavior pattern is emerging. For example, more and more smartphone users are active while simultaneously watching TV. Key questions arise. To what degree will smartphone usage relate to the 'second screen,' the TV? Will TV viewing and smartphone activities be related or not?
Smartphones may become popular as a means for further interaction with a television program. Should such consumer behavior proliferate, mobile marketing can respond with a more cross-channel, holistic approach. In fact, in ideal scenarios, the impact on advertising may almost be counter-intuitive. That is, the successful advertisers that truly engage such cross-channel users may gain their attention in very relevant ways.
Another phenomenon likely to grow is that of 'showrooming.' In this approach to making a purchase, a shopper visits a 'bricks and mortar' store to examine an item, but they then search the internet for the best price before ultimately making the purchase online.
Target is already addressing this phenomenon through the use of QR codes. Customers can scan use their smartphones to scan the code of an item they wish to buy, and the purchase is completed online. Even if price is not a factor, the convenience offered when buying larger items is notable.
In the 'showroom-QR code-online buy' sequence, a retailer can insert coupons or other mobile advertising to keep the customer from looking elsewhere, or to try various innovative ways to up-sell. For example, extended warranties are particularly amenable to this form of promotion.
Input From Behavioral Science
The relationship between the consumer and their mobile device will undergo ever-increasing scrutiny. Just as behavioral science is being tapped for insight into how gamification practices can succeed, so too will that discipline offer insight into what exactly is happening in the evolving mobile device/user relationship.
The user and the mobile device are still engaged in an embryonic relationship. Well-established patterns of behavior are still far from being clearly delineated. As with virtually every paradigm shift, one can choose to respond with anxious concern or disciplined excitement. Inevitably, new forms of consumer behavior offer tremendous opportunity to those that most quickly and accurately adapt.