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Forrester exec spills five keys for post-PC success

NEW YORK ? A Forrester executive at Forrester?s Forum For Customer Experience Professionals East outlined five main recommendations for next-generation mobile experiences that marketers will need to master to keep up with their competitors.

The "Customer Services In The Post-PC World? presented a look at which types of experiences are setting the bar for the next wave of mobile design and interactions. Additionally, the analyst pinpointed a few principles with examples that marketers can use to plan their strategies around.

?The desktop is no longer the center stage as consumers are demanding content anywhere, anytime on multiple devices,? said Tony Costa, senior analyst at Forrester Research, Cambridge, MA.

?It used to be that customers had to go to technology to use it,? he said. ?Today the technology comes with them and along with that comes the access, too.?

?And they expect to access any content, any services, anywhere, anytime on the device that they have most readily available to them.?

Planning for the future
According to Mr. Costa, the first factor that will fuel mobile success for marketers is around developing strong mobile and user experiences.

By now marketers know that the PC world is vastly different than the mobile world, meaning that elements such as touch and navigation will play a more important role in the future.

Take what Microsoft is doing, for example.

Although Mr. Costa acknowledged that Microsoft has a difficult time differentiating itself in the mobile space, the company?s new Windows 8 operating system points to where the industry is headed because it focuses on touch and screens that have similar experiences across screens.

The second important factor is around creating contextually-relevant experiences. Marketers are constantly aiming to make content more relevant and targeted nowadays, and this all comes back to understanding the user and what they are doing.

For instance, Flipboard is a tablet-first app that mimics the leisure act of reading a newspaper. When the company branched out into smartphone apps, they thought about a user experience that is tailored towards consumers accessing content in shorter, more snackable sessions than the tablet.

The next recommendation marketers have to keep in mind is a multi-device world when developing content.

And it is not just young, tech-savvy consumers who are accessing content across multiple devices.

In fact, more than two-thirds of adults own more than two devices, according to data presented during the session.

In particular, Kindle ownership is high with older consumers, per Mr. Costa.

Additionally, consumers are completing tasks across multiple devices. For example, 38 percent of trip planning activities that start on a PC are finished on a smartphone or tablet, according to findings from Google.

Tailored experiences
Each device warrants its own tailored experience. 

For example, a digital version of Scrabble detects when consumers have multiple devices with them. The tablet becomes the main game board, with smartphones warping into the digital tile holders for game pieces. Players can also shake their phones to mix up their letters.

Similarly, Mr. Costa's fourth idea is about creating a unified view of the consumer. Unlike marketers, consumers do not differentiate screens, and they have the same expectations for a brand across multiple screens.

According to Mr. Costa, Walmart has learned that 12 percent of its mobile sales take place in-store, for example. This is why the company places such a heavy emphasis on elevating the in-store experience via smartphones.

The last point to Mr. Costa?s presentation was about the role of start-ups for marketers.

Although start-ups are small, many of them have mastered a post-PC era because they have been able to hone in on consumer behaviors.

Instagram is a prime example of how big brands are eying start-ups for inspiration.

?These are the companies that are really in tune with what is going on,? Mr. Costa said.

?There?s a reason why Facebook paid $1 billion for Instagram,? he said.

?Anybody could build Instagram, but they can?t acquire the knowledge and understanding of what customers want today unless you go out and get it yourself.?

Final Take
Lauren Johnson is associate reporter on Mobile Marketer, New York