Forrester's Julie Ask: Be "Big Mother," not "Big Brother" in mobile
By Joe McCarthy
May 2, 2014
Ms. Ask at the Mcommerce Summit 2014
Companies win and lose consumer loyalty during "mobile moments," those brief occasions when powerful impressions can be made. Understanding the step-by-step journey of a consumer as she engages with a company helps to uncover where, when and why these mobile moments emerge.
"I don’t believe that the best opportunities in mobile are lower-funnel marketing," said Julie Ask, vice president and principal analyst at Forrester Research, San Francisco. "They’re upper-funnel.
"Consumers become very task-oriented when on their phone," she said. "The average time might be 30 seconds to 60 sixty seconds while they try to get something done.
"Think of being big mother and being helpful rather than big brother and creepy."
The consumer journey
Rather than having a singular focus on mcommerce, brands should entertain, educate and guide consumers with mobile. Ms. Ask stressed that the key features of mobile are immediacy, simplicity and context. Consumers tend to use a brand's app or mobile Web site briefly and only for specific purposes. When a consumer opens her phone, she wants to immediately achieve a goal, not wade through tons of pages and load times.
Ms. Ask at the Mcommerce Summit 2014
"One of the important things to do with mobile is to give [consumers] a sense of control," Ms. Ask said.
Brands can provide this control by breaking down the consumer journey into segments and having the function of an app adapt intuitively to the context.
Consumers use their smartphone everywhere: 68 percent use them while in stores, 68 percent while outdoors, 68 percent while in the car and 64 percent while in their living rooms. Clearly, a consumer's intent shifts in each of these environments.
In relation to a sale, brands should determine what consumers are doing three weeks out, a few days out, a few minutes out and the many moments post-sale, and then bend their mobile presence accordingly to maximize utility.
For instance, Starwood's SPG app changes from broad overviews to highly specific travel information when a guest's stay approaches. Two days out, guests can open the app and immediately find hotel, room, transportation and exploration information.
Geo-targeting clearly helps gauge the consumer journey.
"One of the first things that your customers need to do is opt-in, sign up, accept push-based notifications," Ms. Ask said. "When you know who your customers are and they have taken the time to download your app, raised their hand, opted-in, then your job is to not screw it up in that moment of truth."
Some retailers have made interesting moves in the geo-targeting space.
For example, the Peruvian shoe store Meat Pack has an app that will send a consumer in a competitors's store a time-sensitive sale notification. The sale begins at 99 percent and goes down a percentage point each second until the consumer enters Meat Pack. Eighty-nine percent has been the highest sale clocked so far.
Products and features meant to improve the customer experience begin at the phase of "delight" and proceed to the phase of "basic," according to Ms. Ask. In the delight phase, consumers are delighted to use a feature. In the basic phase, consumers expect a certain feature to be there and to work flawlessly.
Mobile has dramatically collapsed the transition between delight and basic.
For decades, consumers were delighted with the drive-through cylinder feature at banks that took twenty minutes. Now, after only a few years of its advent, mobile users become impatient with mobile deposit options that take longer than 20 seconds.
Brands that do not generate many mobile moments can borrow the mobile moments of popular platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Whatsapp and others.
Interestingly, consumer mobile trends vary from country to country. Ms. Ask noted that the U.S. is app-centric, China is more location-based because of phones with decreased bandwidth and countries like India, Indonesia and Brazil have a heavy reliance on messaging.
"Over half of us have more than three connected devices," Ms. Ask said. "As an entity you have to balance this need for consistency of experience across devices, with the needs of consumers in different contexts."
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