The idea of the “always connected” consumer has really only emerged only in the past two to three years. With the proliferation of smartphones, brands now have the opportunity to connect with their customers on the go and in real time, through the powerful mini-computers that people carry around nearly 24/7.
The idea of being “always connected,” though, is morphing into something so much more than smartphones. Electronics companies, automobile manufacturers, hospitality companies, airlines and more are providing the opportunity for people to connect through powerful screens in all aspects of our lives. Whether it is through the connected TV, screens on household appliances or in-dash in autos, people are increasingly afforded the opportunity to be “on” – and more addressable to brands than ever before.
Until now, the winners in mobile have been defined as those with a specific, unique strategy for the channel. This strategy differed from their Internet marketing initiatives, taking advantage of the uniqueness of the opportunity to connect with people based on their location and current situation, thus boosting relevance and, consequently, brand loyalty. As more hardware companies and automakers introduce new screens for our everyday lives – be it refrigerators or touchscreen kiosks in hotel rooms – consumers are going to want to be able to interact with apps, content and media across all connected devices.
Today, each device and screen works independently and most apps are limited to traditional web and smartphones. A huge brand engagement and loyalty-building opportunity is being missed with one-time, limited or everyday-use devices by having apps available only on one or two endpoints. It will be critical for brands to develop omni-channel strategies so that the transition between screens is seamless and fluid. There are three things that must be considered when developing an omni-channel app strategy, though:
- Personalization across all screens is crucial: The idea of living in a world in which every device really knows and understands a user is becoming more of a reality. If consumers have to reintroduce themselves to every screen, they will grow frustrated and disenchanted with the experience and the brand.
- Capitalize on the uniqueness of each screen: A consumer’s intent is different across all screens. On an airplane seatback, for instance, the user will want helpful information and offers for their destination city. For example, a retailer could provide a coupon to encourage the customer to visit the flagship store in the city they are visiting. The same retailer could send a push message to the consumer’s smartphone when he or she is in their hometown to drive in-app purchases.
- Use the sensors on each device: Each device can help a brand drive true relevance by being situationally-aware of the user’s surroundings. Cars have their unique sensors and cameras that can deliver this, while smartphones and household appliances have their own signals. Brands must determine how to capitalize on all of the multi-dimensional data from signals to provide a true hyper-local and 360-degree user experience.
In the future, the “winners” across digital will have omni-channel apps, content and media that allow for real-time personalization across all form factors — smartphone, Web, TV, automobile, airplane seatbacks, kiosks and wearable computing. Apps need to deliver the right mobile context and content for the screen, which will allow for increased brand engagement opportunities and long-term loyalty.