Biweekly Bulletin: 5 Compelling Things You Should Know

Every other week, we share 5 timely and valuable articles from our favorite sources that will inspire and educate marketers like you.

Here’s what we’re reading this week:

  1. Once considered only a point-of-purchase and in-store channel, shopper marketing has grown to involve the entire omnichannel experience thanks to advancing technology.
  2. According to an eMarketer study, nearly half of iPhone users who hadn’t tried Apple Pay as of June 2016 said it was because they said they were already happy with their current payment method.
  3. The hottest upcoming book that every brand marketer should read is Brand Admiration: The Exponential Effect of Brand Love, Trust, and Respect. According to the authors, who are renowned marketing researchers, brands that manage to evoke senses of warmth, empathy, and gratitude — psychological attributes generally associated with love — create the strongest connections with people that can generate influential competitive advantages.
  4. “When answers become cheap, good questions become more difficult and therefore more valuable.” In his new nonfiction novel The Inevitable, founding executive editor of Wired Kevin Kelly raises many important questions that will shape the next few decades. Technology is metamorphosizing faster than people can even master it, so it’s more important than ever to master the art of lifelong learning.
  5. Digital entrepreneur Jeff Bullas shares his key steps to awesome content marketing that works, including discovery, payment, engagement and conversion.

Want to learn more about how to take your digital marketing from now to next? Reach out to Mat Lignel at 844.LC.IDEAS and let’s chat.

P.S. Don’t forget to sign up for our newsletter, for the latest in industry news, tips and inspiration. To start receiving updates from Laughlin Constable, subscribe here.

Location, Location, Location: Delivering Value Along the Mobile Customer Journey

Pokémon GO. Simply put, it’s a global phenomenon. But it has also spurred discussion among retailers, brands and marketers about how to use the location-aware nature of the game to cash in on its success.

However, many may not have considered why or how to incorporate location-aware mobile marketing efforts into their strategy for long-term success.

The mobile beast is difficult to tame.

By now, marketers recognize that mobile has created a major shift in how people behave, and the resulting opportunities for brands to reach and engage them. Along with the mobile-driven shift in behavior has come a shift in expectations. People increasingly expect their interactions with brands to be personally relevant to their preferences and interests, and also to their immediate needs in the moment.

In a survey by Google and Ipsos, 69% of online consumers answered that the quality, timing or relevance of a company’s message influences their perception of a brand.

Due to the rapidly evolving nature of mobile technology, and its impact on people’s behaviors and expectations, it can be difficult for marketers to keep up with how to best leverage mobile as part of an overarching marketing strategy that delivers a personal and contextually relevant customer experience.

According to a recent study by PointSource, 54% of retailers say their biggest challenge around mobile experience is finding ways to integrate mobile strategy into their overall marketing strategy.

Location-based marketing provides opportunity for brands to create deeper connections with their customers. 

Location-based marketing is the use of location intelligence in mobile marketing to target mobile users within a certain location or geographic area. This might bring to mind in-store beacon technology that allows retailers to ping customers with messaging or offers such as coupons while in store, or location-based app notifications that use geo-fencing.

Behavioral economist Dan Ariely has stated that today’s marketers must “think about the context of their customer on the path to purchase: where they are, what device they’re on, and what their likely mindset is in that given moment.” Location-based marketing creates opportunity for brands and marketers to better reach and engage customers by delivering a personal and contextually relevant experience, both in mobile moments and as part of the overall customer experience.

The following are considerations for brands and marketers to help think about the context of their customer throughout their journey (the phases the customer goes through in their unique relationship with a brand) and incorporate location-based marketing as part of their marketing strategy.

Awareness

Brands of all kinds, and especially those that have physical retail locations, can benefit from using location-based marketing to build awareness of their local presence. This can include paid search and social media ads that leverage data to provide location-relevant messaging.

For the best approach, brands must consider what their target customers are doing on their mobile devices, including what they might be searching for based on their current situation, location and their immediate needs.

Hilton Worldwide used data to target people in airports at times when there were a lot of flight cancellations by proactively increasing its paid search ad buy in those markets and serving ads for nearby Hilton hotels with geo-targeted messaging to people searching things like “Philadelphia airport hotels.”

 Evaluation

Once a prospective customer has moved to the evaluation phase, brands must provide optimized mobile experiences that serve up the contextually relevant information they are seeking in that moment. Websites and landing pages must be mobile-friendly, with quick load times and content that is prioritized by what a customer is looking for in that mobile moment.

Brands can use a customer’s location to help provide the most relevant information and answers that will give them the confidence to quickly make a decision.

GoHealth Urgent Care uses geolocation data on its mobile site to serve up urgent care center listings in order of proximity to the user, along with providing estimated wait times and online check-in. The site also features integrations with Google Maps and Uber to help a user easily figure out how to get to the location.

gohealth-urgent-care

Action

Once customers have made their decision, brands must provide an experience that allows them to easily take action, such as making a purchase, scheduling an appointment or visiting a location. Brands can use location-based marketing to provide a more relevant and convenient experience in this phase.


Best Buy makes it easy for the on-the-go customer to find and purchase a product by using Google local inventory ads to display its current inventory at stores closest to the customer’s location. A customer that searches “slr cameras” will see exactly which SLR cameras are in stock at nearby stores. The ads let the customer choose to buy online, but also feature an option to pick up in store for added convenience.

best-buy-in-store-pickup-mobile

Loyalty/Engagement

Once a brand has acquired a customer, mobile can play a large part of an effective engagement strategy to build the relationship with that customer over time to keep them satisfied and coming back.

A popular way to do this is by creating a brand app. However, with many customers at a point of app fatigue, only a select few apps are actually used on a regular basis. To be successful, a brand app must deliver genuine, long-term value for customers, and location-based marketing can help in providing this value.

In addition to allowing customers to make payments, report claims and view policy info, Security First Insurance’s mobile app allows Florida homeowners to quickly plot their current location against an active storm’s ever-changing path relative to that location using an interactive Storm Tracker. Using social plug-ins, they can also share their map and storm updates with friends and family.

security-first-insurance-storm-trackerOther opportunities for brands to build loyalty using location-based marketing include adding enhanced personalization to engagement communications, such as providing nearest store location or weather-based messaging in email campaigns.

Pokémon GO may be a tipping point that has started many brands and retailers thinking about how to adopt location-aware marketing tactics, but there’s much more they must consider to achieve long-term success.

In a world where customer-brand interactions are increasingly taking place on mobile devices, and in on-the-go moments, location-based marketing will be an important factor for brands to successfully deliver a personal and contextually relevant customer experience. Those brands that can leverage mobile location data to provide value at each stage of their customer’s journey will be best positioned to win.

For more tips, tricks, or insights on how to take your marketing from now to next, subscribe to our newsletter or contact Mat Lignel at 844.LC.IDEAS.

Biweekly Bulletin: 5 Compelling Things You Should Know

Every other week, we share 5 timely and valuable articles from our favorite sources that will inspire and educate marketers like you.

Here’s what we’re reading this week:

  1. Video may be a visual medium and it continues to grow in engagement and interest on social media. But surprisingly, the most recent growth in its popularity and usage is also great news for writers.
  2. With mid-year reviews on the horizon, here are 8 signs of a truly exceptional employee that you won’t see on a performance evaluation.
  3. There appears to be a science behind when your brand should post on social media. Buffer, a social media tool, analyzed over 4.8 million tweets across 10,000 profiles and found the best times to post on social.
  4. Unlike other social experts, Gary Vaynerchuk thinks the Snapchat “Memories” feature is a smart move. The platform started as a niche social channel and has since grown into a complete distribution channel with zero signs of slowing down anytime soon.
  5. 6 in 10 YouTube subscribers would follow advice on what to buy from their favorite creator over their favorite TV or movie personality. So before you decide on a brand ambassador, you should take these key YouTube statistics into account.

Want to learn more about how to take your digital marketing from now to next? Reach out to Mat Lignel at 844.LC.IDEAS and let’s chat.

P.S. Don’t forget to sign up for our newsletter, for the latest in industry news, tips and inspiration. To start receiving updates from Laughlin Constable, subscribe here.

What a Brand from the 90s Taught Us About Modern Mobile Marketing

By now, you either are still caught with a serious case of Poké-fever or a crippling sense of Poké-fatigue. The billion dollar, record smashing app has caught the attention of millions of fans across the world (even extending beyond the original 1999 playing card audience) causing a wave of casualties, injuries, robberies, trespassing violations, and some very quick-minded entrepreneurial spin-off ventures.

Unwittingly, businesses have been brought into the mix as millions of players have invaded storefronts guised as “gyms” or “pokéstops” in efforts to “catch ‘em all!” to varying degrees of applause. Some small businesses have decided to capitalize off of this increase in foot traffic by setting in-game “lures” to draw players into their storefronts and advertising the rare Pokémon found within their businesses.

Though Niantic (the technology company behind Nintendo’s Pokémon Go’s success) has now confirmed that Sponsored Locations will be available in the next round of updates, loyal players continue to stress the need for brand integration value – not just branded experiences. Instead of trying to re-invent the wheel (however shiny and highly addicting), brands should instead look to Pokémon Go (PG) as a barometer for how consumers are looking to engage with technology in the future. Here are a few considerations for developing your next consumer engagement strategy:

CONSUMERS ARE NOT LOOKING FOR HIGH-TECH

PG is a great example of an augmented reality game interface (in that it adds virtual enhancements to actual reality versus virtual reality which creates a virtual world), however it is not the first and arguably, not even the best. Users have experienced numerous flaws and glitches in gameplay, some stemming from its immense popularity, but others inherent to the app’s development. True loyalists will even recall a similar earlier iteration called Ingress that quietly launched with little fanfare despite using similar technology. All that to say: cutting-edge technology alone will not increase user engagement. People are looking for new experiences with the devices and technology that they use on a daily basis. Brands that find innovative ways to use existing technologies will win out above efforts that introduce consumers to complex, expensive new devices they have to master. However, with leveraging existing tech…

CONSUMERS THRIVE ON ACCURACY

Ever since smartphone mobile usage became ubiquitous, consumers have opted in to location sharing with the promise that it would provide convenience and functionality. Geo-targeting, geo-fencing, and even beacon-targeting are all technologies that have existed with varying levels of efficacy, but what PG has been able to independently demonstrate is that real-time location accuracy is not only attainable down to a 1:1 connection, but downright fun. If marketers had any trepidation about geolocation due to privacy, PG players have turned those notions on their head with millions of players willingly sharing real-time location data (and at one time, even more sensitive data) to enhance their experience. Finally(!), it seems that effective geolocation targeting has arrived — and with a mutual value proposition: retailers want sales, players want coins/rewards/Pokémon. Brands can now directly connect foot traffic to gameplay with a “cost per visit” pricing model instead of forcing a story with a CPM. Although using geolocation for entertainment discovery seems great…

CONSUMERS DO NOT WANT TO PLAY HIDE AND SEEK FOREVER

Embracing the nostalgia of the popular 90s trading card game was definitely a huge part of PG’s success. However, brands should not treat this overnight success as an excuse to create more virtual treasure hunts and expect similar results. As we fondly reminisce the similar fame of other mobile juggernauts (Flappy Bird, Angry Birds, Candy Crush, Farmville, etc), we’re reminded that spin-offs and imitations rarely capture the spark that originals ignited. How Niantic develops its updates will determine the staying power of this latest craze, but brands can rest assured that imitation is not the quickest path to victory. Instead, if a mobile activation is right for your target, identify opportunities for enhancement based on their existing habits and connect that to value in their offline world. For example, Walgreens integrated its Prescription Refill API into women’s health app Glow to provide unique value to app users endemic to their habitual use of the app. Speaking of unique value…

CONSUMERS NEED VALUE, NOT LOGOS

The forthcoming Sponsored Locations that will soon be available to advertisers within the PG interface are staple placements for brand inclusion within these types of apps and are invariably an easy, no-frills route to get in the door, however, the current endemic method of engaging players with lures and pokéstops/gyms may fare better for businesses. Sure, brands could slap their logos and imagery on relevant locations within the game like other mobile app experiences, but part of the novelty of this movement is that it is not like other experiences. This one has a truer ring of authenticity than other mobile placements so brands should try to find more native opportunities within the PG interface and others to engage consumers in ways that provide value whether in-game or offline. For retailers, this could be offering specific offers or content for players in and around businesses (similar to how Foursquare engaged businesses with check-ins) for offline value or offering in-game tips and unlocked content. The key is to find the intersection of brand objectives and authentic user needs.

Expect the unexpected if you choose to tread the uncharted waters of Pokémon Go or future mobile gaming activations. So long as the value to consumers is clear, the engagement should follow.

Want to learn more about how to take your digital marketing from now to next? Reach out to Mat Lignel at 844.LC.IDEAS and let’s chat.

P.S. Don’t forget to sign up for our newsletter, for the latest in industry news, tips and inspiration. To start receiving updates from Laughlin Constable, subscribe here.

3 Ways UX Research Can Save Your Site and Your Budget

 

What is the one thing you could do now—before you launch—to save your company time and money in the future? Invest in user experience (UX).

User experience can make or break a brand.

Four years from now, customer experience is predicted to be the one key brand differentiator—overtaking both price and product.* This means UX research has never been a more vital component of your process since its entire objective is to craft an experience that feels uniquely tailored to meet your customers’ needs, while eliminating any bugs or pitfalls and proving or disproving any gut assumptions.

Beyond eliminating issues, UX research can also identify your target audience, then track their journey through your digital environment—analyzing everything from behavior flows and completion rates to social, bounce rates and session timing. Essentially, UX is the one upfront investment you can make now that’s guaranteed to have a healthy return.

Unsure how UX plays into your process? Let’s explore 3 of the many tactics available.

 

ux interviewsIdea #1: Interviews

What’s the best way to understand your audience and their behaviors, values or goals? Ask them! By obtaining early user feedback or answers from real people and analyzing that data to create insights, you can uncover key information to grow any aspect of your business or create meaningful experiences for your customers. This helps you avoid any superfluous decisions, while being guided by the very user base you are trying to connect with. Now, you can’t just take what they say verbatim, (in the words of Henry Ford, “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses”), but it’s a good start to understanding a variety of things with real people.

One way to better define users and their needs is through the creation of personas. Personas are archetypes built specifically for your product to identify real users’ profiles, needs, wants and expectations in order to design best possible experiences for them. Without identifying the various characteristics of the user groups visiting your site, you cannot hope to design an experience that includes the key elements that each type of user needs. Instead, you will end up creating a website that doesn’t perform well for anyone. One easy step to understanding key characteristics is to ask users questions via a survey. It’s simple, cheap and an effective research method.

But, you never use one method of research in isolation…

 

ux testing imageIdea #2: Testing

Companies who test their sites early on can help uncover experience and functionality problems. This eliminates any interaction assumptions and helps dive deeper into satisfaction ratings and positive net promoter scores. For you, this means getting one step further toward a smooth, bug-free user experience that both the web (as a whole) and your customer base love. It also helps expose real-time user problems, while ensuring your current navigation is getting the job done right.

For example, we were in the development stages of redesigning a healthcare website with over 2,000 pages of content and multiple user personas to design an experience around. Multiple rounds of user testing was built into the design process to ensure what we were creating was useful, meaningful and aligned to user needs before the site was even launched. If you think user testing is expensive, it’s not. What’s expensive is designing a site that no one uses.

 

ux contextual studiesIdea #3: Contextual Studies

Contextual studies conducted in natural environments make it easy to observe and track natural user behaviors and patterns as opposed to conducting studies in labs, isolated from when, where and how the user interacts with your site. One study method we use effectively is the “diary study,” which provides detailed insight into the expectations, mindsets, moods and environments of your users, written by your users.

Picture this: a company that provides products for new mothers is looking to understand how their website could better help mothers in need to care for their baby or themselves. By performing a diary study where mothers would track when they needed help, how they sought help and what types of devices they used during that time in need, the company learned mobile was huge and mothers usually only have one arm to use their device because the other arm was holding their baby. Understanding the context behind their experience, UX was able to create a unique mobile experience that allowed mothers to seamlessly navigate a website and find the information they were seeking with just one hand. Performing this study in a lab would never yield the same results from the diary study. So if you know who your users are, you can pick the right research method to gain the correct data, which will help you better align your site, experience or service with user expectations, and avoid costly navigation or experience issues in the future.

 

The one goal of UX design and research is to better captivate, engage and emotionally connect with users when they are trying to achieve a goal—no matter the time, place or circumstances. By uncovering these otherwise invisible or unproven theories you are able to improve the performance of your site and the satisfaction of your customer base. And when your customer base feels supported and heard, and avoids any negative encounters (think: website crashes, loading issues, payment problems), they not only help you avoid any future costly repairs or tweaks, they become loyal fans and consumers.

Want to learn more about how to take your digital marketing from now to next? Reach out to Mat Lignel at 844.LC.IDEAS and let’s chat.

P.S. Don’t forget to sign up for our newsletter, for the latest in industry news, tips and inspiration. To start receiving updates from Laughlin Constable, subscribe here.

*Walker: “Customers 2020: The Future of B-To-B Customer Experience” (2013 Report)

8 Key Takeaways from the 2016 Digital Summit

Digital-Summit_Logo_Resized-1

The 4th annual Digital Summit, sponsored by Laughlin Constable and the Diederich College of Communication at Marquette University, took place on Thursday, February 25, 2016. The daylong conference brought marketers and college students together to learn and discuss the newest trends in the digital landscape. Speakers from companies across the country provided key insights into how digital is the ultimate game changer in the marketing landscape.

Here are our main takeaways from the 2016 Digital Summit.

1. Technology has enhanced the perpetual importance of storytelling.

A compelling story that captures an audience’s attention has the power to make consumers listen to your brand. The many ways we tell stories have evolved immensely over time, thanks to innovative technology that has changed how consumers search for and digest stories.

Dan Williams, Midwest Sales Director at Spotify, expressed this concept with the emergence of the Streaming Revolution. Millennials are “soundtracking” their lives and curating playlists for specific moments or activities. For example, there are over 40,000 active “Shower” playlists on Spotify, averaging over 550,000 streams per day. Brands that strategically tap into these precise moments and weave their story with the consumer’s story will be reap the benefits of user loyalty and advocacy.

Laura Markewicz, VP of Digital Strategy at Laughlin Constable, touched on major technological advances, both historical and recent, that have changed the way stories are communicated. However, while technology changes, the power of a good story does not. As marketers, we must never stop using new technology to continue to tell stories and create experiences people love.

2. Meet your customers where they are searching.

Today’s rapidly evolving technology has introduced new media for consumers to search for anything at any given moment.

Joe Veverka, Search Insights Manager and Melissa O’Brien, Account Executive from Microsoft stressed why marketers should begin to consider the significant impact that mobile personal assistants such as Microsoft’s Cortana, Google Now and Apple’s Siri are making on paid search and digital advertising. Veverka and O’Brien emphasized that marketers should be adapting their pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns for voice search by using question words in certain keywords, such as “how,” “why” and “what.”

Veverka and O’Brien also explained that by 2018, Cortana is predicted to be the primary personal assistant for one billion Windows 10 powered devices. As mobile personal assistants continue to change the way consumers search through mobile devices, marketers must continue to adapt their paid and organic search strategies to optimize the reach and relevance of their content through this new search medium.

3. Stay authentic.

Now more than ever, it is crucial for brands to evolve with the quickly changing digital landscape, but stay true to their roots at the same time. Whether brands stay faithful to their heritage, are transparent at every consumer touchpoint or give back to the community, being authentic is the key to earning respect among brands’ target audiences.

Brad Heidemann, CEO of Tahzoo, defined the Experience Economy, where people value brands based on the experiences they have during their interactions with them, as the new market in which brands must compete to provide the most valued experience.

Patrick O’Brien, CEO of Paris Presents Incorporated, expressed the same idea with the Real Techniques brand partnership with Sam and Nic Chapman, two makeup artists and sisters from the United Kingdom, selected by Paris Presents Incorporated for their genuine interest in educating women on makeup tips. In their makeup tutorial videos, the Chapman sisters often use other makeup brush brands, allowing them to keep their audience’s trust and provide an authentic online experience with honest reviews, thereby growing their popularity and credibility as experts.

4. Dare to be different.

How can brands truly differentiate themselves and cut through the noise in their industries?

Laura Markewicz challenged her audience to pay close attention to what the competition was doing and find ways to do the opposite. For example, when other airlines charged their passengers more for tickets, luggage and assigned seats, Southwest Airlines took an entirely opposite approach. They chose to focus their whole brand around the customer experience. Southwest passengers have the liberty to choose wherever they would like on the plane and check their bags for free. As a result, brands like Southwest Airlines found competitive advantage through an entirely different approach than its competition.

When marketers choose to stop making minuscule changes, and instead strategically shift their approach to differentiate from the rest of the industry, the reward is often worth the risk.

5. Plan for your brand’s future.

As the digital universe grows, the potential disruptions in the future will have major implications for marketers. Instead of avoiding these major innovations, marketers must adjust and react to keep their brand competitive.

As Mark Carlson, EVP of Strategic Planning at Laughlin Constable stated, “If you hate change, you’re really going to hate irrelevance.” As technology evolves, marketers cannot afford to wait for the next big change, because if they do, they’ll fall behind.

With the example of Facebook’s new “reaction” buttons allowing for different expressions online (e.g., love, haha, yay, wow, sad, angry), Carlson discussed how marketers will have to continuously monitor how Facebook’s new reaction buttons will evolve what these human, everyday emotions mean in a social media context. In short, the brands that analyze, predict and adjust to changing digital consumer behaviors will triumph.

6. Experience is the most valuable currency.

Customer experience (CX), as defined by Augie Ray, Director of Research at Gartner, is more than just customer service. It’s about providing value beyond your product or service, and ultimately making your consumer feel better, safer and more powerful.

An example of a brand with superior customer experience is the ride-sharing company Uber. From its founding, the renowned and beloved brand found a way to disrupt the transportation industry by providing a ride to the user’s location when he or she wants it, making both riders and drivers feel secure and empowered with ratings and reviews accessible to both parties. This innovative concept disrupted a stagnant taxicab industry that was in dire need of innovation.

Overall, marketers must place value in each interaction a consumer has with their brand, and work to make every experience one to remember.

7. Connect with your customers in the moments that matter.

Google’s La’Naeschia O’Rear, Matt Eschert and Marisa D’Amelio discussed how mobile is now a behavior, not just a technology. On average, people check their phone 150 times, or 177 minutes, a day. These instances of needs-based mobile moments are opportunities for marketers to capture mobile users at their moment of need or want.

An example of this is how YouTube has become a hub for influencers to reach consumers with useful, interesting content that provides value and answers their needs-based moments, in the moment, from any device. Brands like Lowes leverage YouTube to empower DIY enthusiasts to complete home renovation projects on their own.

Marketers must identify these micro-moments where consumers are looking for support during their needs-based moments, and support them with the content they need.

8. Think like a human, not like a marketer.

Marketers have a tendency to focus on selling products and gaining profit instead of delighting their customers.

Erin Ulicki, VP of Sales at Okanjo, provided key tips for reaching consumers through native commerce, or serving up shoppable ads that correspond with the content of the article or webpage. Putting themselves in the customers’ shoes can give marketers insight into how delivering the right message at the right time in the right place is crucial to delivering a superior customer experience.

Laura Markewicz proved this point further by rewinding back to the first banner ad ever, created by AT&T, which had a 44% click-through rate. Over the past two decades, marketers have ruined digital banner advertising through oversaturation, with today’s benchmark CTR at only .07%.

Despite evolving technologies and online consumer behaviors, marketers must be the customer champion by always keeping their consumers’ best interests at the forefront of every marketing effort.

Think Small to Win Big

I’m fairly certain Pete Townshend wasn’t referring to smartphones and tablets when he wrote “Going Mobile” more than 40 years ago, but the dude was right.

Mobile technologies and capabilities have undoubtedly made leaps and bounds over the past few years. Remember how savvy you thought you looked with your BlackBerry (no offense to those who still chat via BBM)? While your Curve 3500 is collecting dust in a shoebox, your iPhone 6 is getting more play than Angry Birds. So, what’s in store for the reigning champions of digital marketing and advertising?

Mobile is no longer a “nice-to-have” in the marketing mix. As it continues to expand its role as a connection and convergence device, mobile should be at the core of brands’ digital ecosystems. However, traditional media like print, TV, and radio still attract the lion’s share of advertising budgets across industries. To put it simply, dollars spent on mobile marketing don’t add up to the time we religiously spend on our devices.

Companies need to shift gears–but not go full throttle into one direction. Mobile marketing cannot be treated like desktop marketing—or any other channel, for that matter. Mobile is more than a medium. It’s an extension of the owner; a vital personal accessory; the one you inevitably say “good night” and “good morning” to; the one who wakes you up in the middle of the night because it needs your undivided attention; the one who isn’t creeped out if you ask for directions or advice. Admit it: You are madly in love with your phone. (Fact: 75% of Americans admit to bringing their phone to the bathroom.)

Consumers who search on mobile devices are more likely to take action. eMarketer conducted a study in May 2014 and found that 50% of consumers who conducted local searches via smartphone visited the store within a day, whereas only 34% of desktop and tablet searchers combined took the trip. Additionally, 18% of local queries on smartphones ultimately led to a purchase. As consumers, our increased emotional dependency on our mobile devices is raising the bar high for brands, and it will continue to heighten as we become more reliant on products and services information that is literally at our fingertips. We frequently switch between our devices throughout the day—desktop at work, mobile on-the-go, tablet everywhere between—to search, shop, communicate, read, and accomplish tasks. We not only want, but also expect, brands to keep up with our wavering demands and quickly provide the information we need whenever and wherever we need it. With this, brands should not focus solely on mobile devices. Instead, they need to create appropriate messaging that suits their consumers’ ever-changing multi-device behavior.

Here’s the magic spell to mobilizing mobile: Marketers must tightly weave mobile into their foundational brand and digital strategies as well as pay close attention to how, when, where, and why consumers are on their gadgets in order to serve them the information they need at all the right moments. Thanks to mobile, we are able to deliver content and advertising experiences that are truly in the interest of the consumer more quickly and conveniently than ever.

Although mobile is the new cool kid on the block, marketers should not zoom out completely on its predecessors. They’re still one big happy digital family.

Making Trust Mobile

 

“Virtually every commercial transaction has within itself an element of trust,” wrote Nobel prize winner Kenneth Arrow. Arrow’s line describes why banks emphasize consistent and personalized interactions with their customers across all branches– to build trust. Back when an actual bank was central to all banking activity, personalizing customer interactions wasn’t too complex. Executives placed greeters at every bank entrance and favored tellers with the local accent who would address us by name. But as we’ve exchanged our interactions with bank employees for banking apps on our phones, banks have been challenged to adopt their familiar strategy of emphasizing human interactions to our screens.

The technology that enables personalization is consistently improving and I’ve noticed increased personalization in my banking apps. Today, my American Express app, for example, greets me with a message appropriate to my time of day. And my Chase app welcomes me with a background based on my location (as I write this post in the Chicago office, I am greeted with the Chicago skyline). In the words of Chase’s head of digital for consumer and community banking, these apps were built with the intention of “humanizing the [digital] experience” aka giving the customer a digital experience similar to the retail experience, a concept that technology has only recently been able to realize. While the app will never replicate human interaction, it has the potential to master personalized interactions on a scale that is impossible for a bank employee (who can easily forget information or get stressed on the job) to do.

As banks seek to regain our trust after the Recession (Gallup), their increasing ability to create a consistent brand experience across all mediums for their customers is great news. Not only do they signal a bank’s excitement to help us where we are – whether online or in the store – they also bring consistency to the bank’s brand experience, an important part of building brand trust and loyalty (Journal of Consumer Research). The banking industry’s ability to use mobile for building customer trust is certainly something we can expect other industries to replicate.

 

New Media. Same Truth.

Research shows 90% of people move between devices to accomplish a goal. As people spend more time on their mobile phones, reaching them “on-the-go” will continue to increase in importance.

Yet the small screen, like all media, provides its own set of challenges and opportunities. Some to-remain-unnamed brands, as seen in Example A focus on the challenges.

Their strategy appears to go along the lines of:

Marketing Manager One: “We have a small space. What do we do?”
Marketing Manager Two: “Boy, I don’t know. That is a small space.”
Marketing Manager One: “Could we trick someone into clicking on our link?”
Marketing Manager Two: “Interesting. But how?”
Marketing Manager One: “Let’s make it look like they have a friend request on Facebook. Even though they’re in The Weather Channel app. That could work”
Marketing Manager Two: “Who cares if they’re annoyed when they get there. They’ll be there. We’ve accomplished our task. We’ve overcome the challenge.”

It’s amazing that this kind of work is considered, much less approved. On the other hand, there are brands that focus on the opportunities, as seen in my favorite-mobile-ad-yet in Example B.

Lowe’s looked at the small space and (a) thought about what the consumer was interested in getting – the weather (b) tied themselves to the context – a nice spring day (c) didn’t get in the way – fit within the established graphic approach and (d) thought differently – staying away from the standard solution.

It’s expectedly unexpected. It’s well played all around. And it almost makes me want to garden.

Interested in more stuff I find interesting? Follow me @casey_flanagan on Twitter.

 

Why you shouldn’t be surprised about Facebook + Instagram

It’s probably safe to assume that by now you’ve heard the breaking news about Facebook acquiring Instagram for a whopping $1 billion in cash and stock.

A short matter of minutes after the acquisition was announced Monday morning, the interwebs were a flurry and Twitter was trending with chatter about the merger. Many were shocked, but if we reflect back on the relationship between Facebook and Instagram this acquisition should come as no surprise.

Facebook is currently the largest photo-sharing site in the world. In fact, an average of 250 million photos are shared on Facebook every day.

Facebook’s recent release of enlarged photos, milestones and cover photos in the Timeline roll out demonstrates their belief in story telling through rich media. Pair that with ongoing upgrades to their mobile application, which emphasize check-ins and location-based tagging within status updates. And voila! It’s easy to see how Facebook could benefit from a location-based photo-sharing platform. Sound familiar?

Cue Instagram.

Instagram, a social media darling formerly powered by a strong staff of six, was valued at a mere $100 million just one year ago. Earlier this year their value tripled to $300 million. And mere days ago it jumped again to a valuation of $500 million.

Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook chief executive, explained his jump to the $1 billion acquisition in his own Facebook post,

This is an important milestone for Facebook because it’s the first time we’ve ever acquired a product and company with so many users. We don’t plan on doing many more of these, if any at all. But providing the best photo sharing experience is one reason why so many people love Facebook and we knew it would be worth bringing these two companies together.

Believe it or not, Facebook and Instagram have been deep in discussions for quite some time now. Last August, Facebook shared plans about the addition of a photo filter application on its mobile application. There were even statements made about Facebook’s failed attempts to acquire Instagram last summer.

This time around, Facebook learned their lesson and made Instagram an offer they simply could not resist, and we couldn’t be more excited. The best of mobile photo sharing is yet to come. We’ll just have to sit tight and stay tuned. In the meantime, continue snapping candid photos of your food and friends, apply whimsical filters, and share on.