The Year of the Horse is upon us and according to ancient Chinese belief, people will take on “unremitting efforts to improve themselves” in 2014.
As mobile-first consumers become more steadfast in their demands and expectations (read: personal, all about me, relevant at this precise moment), marketers should take a page from this Chinese tradition and spend 2014 significantly rethinking and improving their mobile initiatives. Marketers need to get a handle on the numerous, competing customer data streams to better bridge the online and offline worlds in more immediate, personalized and tangible ways. Once this happens, the customer journey will undergo dramatic changes that better align with the mobile-first world.
The biggest trends for the evolving customer experience in 2014 will be:
- Consumers are “Compensated” for Data: Consumers are starting to understand the value in letting go of the tight grip they keep on their personal data – but they want something in return. While we will not see consumers get paid money for their data next year (although this is not too far off), consumers will be rewarded with more personalized experiences. Brands will also begin to explore partnerships to share opt-in customer data to provide multi-dimensional, highly relevant experiences. A weight loss program provider could partner with a retailer to provide a special offer when a set goal is reached (e.g. You’ve reached your goal weight! Enjoy 10% off those skinny jeans!).
- iBeacon Technology Grows Up…Really Fast: More and more stores will adopt iBeacon technology for proximity marketing as a way to enhance the brick-and-mortar experience and to capture the imagination of online shoppers. Marketers will spend 2014 testing and refining indoor location programs in a small number of stores, experimenting with contextual triggers to deliver personalization, drive in-store traffic and enhance customer service. Bringing marketing automation to the physical world, businesses across a variety of industries will look to iBeacon technology as the next stage of real-time marketing.
- Contextual-Awareness Actually Gets…Well Relevant: The primary ingredient for mobile marketing success is being relevant to a person’s immediate context. Location alone doesn’t make something relevant – In fact only 1% of the time would it drive a person to take an action. To drive true relevance and avoid interrupting consumers’ lives, marketers will start leveraging all sensors and secondary location data that exists, such as weather and traffic, as well as start anticipating a person’s intent to provide the right content at the right time to the right person.
- The Smartphone Domino Effect: As devices increasingly become “smart” and the Internet of Things expands into new horizons, smartphones will stake their claim as the remote control to power this connected universe made up of everything from glasses and thermostats to autos and household appliances. Brands will develop omni-channel app strategies, allowing the individual to carry context forward with the smartphone automatically triggering actions appropriate to the screen and their current situation. (e.g. A dinner reservation is made on the smartphone, directions autopopulate in dashboard screen when the car is turned on and a person is prompted to review the restaurant when they power up their tablet that evening).
- Predictions Make Way for Prescriptions: We will see the first round of mainstream apps and platforms leverage prescriptive analytics as the next round of ‘usable’ predictive analytics. As more companies start anticipating customer behavior more accurately, prescriptive analytics will become adopted on a wider scale among the brands looking for actionable insights to drive revenue and deepen engagement.
This year will be a make-it-or-break-it one for brands on mobile. The marketers who stick with the status quo of boring initiatives that interrupt customers’ lives will lose their audience in droves. The marketers who integrate all data streams and systems into mobile-first experiences will be the ones who will not only capture — but keep — the attention of always-addressable consumers. Cheers to a year of true mobility.