In 2016, more people accessed the internet from a device they can slip into their back pocket than from a computer. This marked the first time browsing the internet from a smartphone overtook internet usage on a computer. While this is remarkable, it wasn't unexpected. After all, since the introduction of the iPhone in 2007, smartphones have been flying off the shelves.
In 2015, 64 per cent of Americans had smartphones, compared to just 35 per cent in 2011. By next year, 2.53 billion people – a third of the world's population, is expected to have a smartphone. That's not surprising, given what these devices let us do. With them, we can work, be entertained, shop, organise our work and our personal lives, communicate and pay bills. Some of us can even defeat government corruption with our phones.
Of course, that's amazing in and of itself but the bottom line is, well, they impact your bottom line. Smartphones allow people to access whatever information they want, the very minute an idea pops into their heads. As a result, customer attention has shifted from focusing on print and television messages to digital ones. And people are increasingly turning to their mobile devices to make purchasing decisions. That means your customers are very likely standing in your shop, looking to see if they can get a better deal somewhere else.
So what does this mean for marketing and advertising? It means that you need to have all the information a potential customer could want, the minute they want it. Your marketing and advertising messages have to get in front of them right away, in order to keep their interest. Luckily, there are some concrete things you can do to make sure that happens.
How to engage customers through marketing and advertising with smartphones
- You absolutely have to have either a responsive website or a mobile version of your website. This makes it easier for those with smartphones to browse your site, and it can help your search rankings, too.
- Think about what mobiles do well and what they fail at. Mobile phones are ideal for videos and scrolling through image carousels. Smartphones are awful for giant blocks of text and overcrowded designs. So provide what your customers naturally want: image and video-driven messages on a sleek website. You might even get a few bonus social media shares for the videos.
- Start digging into the data produced by customers' smartphones. Use the data to create nearly personalised marketing messages and offers. Tailor the messages to the region they are in.
- Drive real-world interactions with digital messages. 82 per cent of smartphone users check prices and other product information on their phones before making a purchase in the store they are standing in at that moment. That seems like the perfect time to alert them to a special deal for in-store customers only.
- Don't give your customers any reason to look elsewhere. On average, customers looked at five sources of information before they made a purchase back in 2010. Just one year later, they were relying on an average of 10. If you've got a customer at your website, make sure they stay engaged, entertained and informed about your product or service. That way, you don't give them any reason to want to go anywhere else.
Smartphones have already begun to change the way we shop, interact, work and play. There is no reason for that to abate any time soon. If anything, smartphones will only become more essential to our lives, as technologies like virtual and augmented reality emerge. As this happens, however, data collection and the analysis of that data will continue to improve, so you should be able to keep up with the changes. Everything will get faster and more personalised, but deep down certain things will stay the same. The customer will still want to feel they are valued and that they are getting a great deal. If you can do that, then the technology will only help you win.