Consumers Increasingly Committed to Mobile

If you want a captive audience for your message, start focusing on mobile.

On average, smartphone users now look at their phone 150 times a day, fueled by what a recent study called frequent “checking habits” – repetitive, almost unconscious, inquiries, reinforced by highly accessible “informational rewards.” “Ah! A new text message!”

How pervasive and addicting is mobile? Here’s just one of a multitude of examples:

According to the latest data from the Pew Internet & American Life Project, more than half of the adult cellphone owners in the U.S. now use their phones while watching TV, keeping themselves occupied during commercials or breaks (38 percent) or visiting sites mentioned during a TV show (35 percent). Some of these “connected viewers” also use their phones to exchange text messages with someone else who is watching the same program in a different location (23 percent). Others like to fact check (22 percent), read what others are saying about programs online (11 percent), post a comment of their own (11 percent) or vote for a reality show contestant (6 percent).

The use of mobile is known as “narrowcasting,” versus “broadcasting.” Under the steady barrage of status updates, news feeds and emails, the attention span of the typical online consumer is quickly diminishing. Conversely, take a look at focused “narrowcasting:”  Research from Frost and Sullivan found that 98 percent of all SMS or MMS messages are opened, while 84 percent of Facebook news feed stories aren’t viewed, 88 percent of emails go unopened and 71 percent of tweets are ignored.

Consumers crave mobile –so much so that mobile is expected to be bigger than the internet in five years, and in just three years, 81 percent of all U.S. cell users will be wielding smartphones. Already, a comScore study revealed that 43 percent of smartphone users have used their device while in a store for shopping purposes. They’re using their smartphones to find retail locations, check prices, research products, read reviews, use coupons . . . and more (Nielsen, 2012).

Marketers are catching the wave, too. More and more companies are joining the mobile movement, implementing the vast array of mobile marketing options to communicate key messages with their customers. Just keep this in mind: Mobile marketing is less about “shouting” and more about “talking” –once customers have opted-in, they are likely to continue the conversation, establishing informal, yet interactive, communication. What’s more, now that so many are connected/dependent/habituated to their mobile devices, mobile customers are available to receive your message at almost any time, and delivery is virtually immediate, allowing you to send even last-minute promotional messages.

As I see it, the question really is not “Why go mobile?” but rather, “How should you market products and services to the growing market of mobile users?” Initiatives to consider include use SMS for contests, special promotions, discount codes and to increase membership/activity in loyalty programs; mobile versions of selected pages to boost page views and conversions; apps that specifically improve the customer experience for your audience.

I could go on and on with statistics and ideas to keep your mouth watering, but winning the mobility race will take more than simply developing some cool, new mobile thing-a-ma-jig. You’ll need a sound, comprehensive strategy, one that’s integrated with the rest of your marketing plan. Your mobile efforts will pay off only if: 1) users actually want your content, and 2) that content is aligned with business goals.

Beyond that, I don’t think you’ll have to worry much about finding your audience. According to a CNN article, some users actually break out in a cold sweat if they can’t check their cell phone.