How to Create Contextual 'Micro Moments' with Apple Watch

Marketers, Don't Forget the Customer Experience in Apple Watch Efforts

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Marketers with multiple storefronts have good reason to be fired up about the Apple Watch. Apple Watch should make it easier for consumers to find places to shop, eat and do business with brands that have invested properly in local marketing. Apple Watch will also accelerate the path to purchase as people appreciate the ease of buying groceries and cups of coffee with a simple flick of their wrists.

Progressive businesses that sense and respond to the Apple Watch might be tempted to integrate an aggressive offer strategy to encourage those purchases. Imagine an offer for a discounted cup of coffee popping up on a person's Apple Watch as he or she happens to walk by a Starbucks. Well, the temptation to dial up the location-based deals is understandable -- and a recipe for a marketing fail. Instead, the early-adopter businesses need to put their customers at the center of the experience, not the transaction. Doing so means understanding how a wearable such as Apple Watch fits inside your customer experience, rather than rushing into the creation of a device-centric "wearables strategy."

Make no mistake: A big change in consumer behavior is coming as we move from a tapping to a swiping mentality. The change is already here for marketing giants such as Disney, which has instituted its proprietary wristband technology at Disneyworld. Apple Watch will accelerate that behavioral change from fumbling around in our pockets for smart cards and iPhones to purchasing goods and services with a device conveniently located on our wrists. No business wants to be left behind, which is why we've already witnessed a proliferation of Apple Watch apps for brands ranging from Fandango to Uber.

But being responsive to changing consumer behavior means first examining your customer acquisition and retention strategy and then understanding how that behavior fits inside that strategy. For example, how does your customer's journey from awareness to conversion change when that customer owns an Apple Watch? How do you adapt the way you interact with that customer?

Forrester Research analyst Julie Ask advocates this type of customer-centric thinking. She urges marketers to build a better customer relationship through "micro moments" instead of worrying about a wearables strategy. In her recent research, she says that as consumers shift their time and attention to mobile, they react faster than ever to hyper-relevant brand experiences (which can take the form of simple notification). She suggests businesses need to figure out how to create the right "micro moment" to inspire consumers to be your customers.

But creating micro moments doesn't mean dialing up notifications about local deals just because you can. It's one thing for a large enterprise to make it easier for consumers to find its thousands of locations across the United States and the world -- but quite another to then bombard those consumers with offers based on their location. Offers based on location will quickly become white noise if you simply increase their volume. Instead, brands should:

1. Create micro moments in context. Don't simply dial up offers. Customize offers based on variables such as changes in weather or a person's location. For instance, one of my favorite apps is Untappd, which tells me where to find interesting beers and pubs based on my location. I would become annoyed if Untappd developed an Apple Watch app that notified me incessantly of offers from local establishments where I live in Chicago. But if I were traveling to San Francisco and found myself with some spare time on my hands in the evening, I would appreciate Untappd letting me know about some cool local brews to explore in my new environment. Offers are all about context, not volume.

2. Be creative with content design. Apple Watch is a fashion statement. Unlike your iPhone, which you store in your pocket, you wear the Apple Watch on your arm. How many Apple Watch owners will want their elegant watch beeping at them and serving up boring, poorly-designed content on their screens? Apple Watch will challenge locations to think more carefully about the form of their content as well as the content itself.

Bottom line: Don't be in such a rush to create a presence on Apple Watch that you leave out the most important element of your local marketing: customers. Collaborate with early adopters of Apple Watch to understand their behaviors, wants and needs. And there are many ways to do so, ranging from ethnographic research to focus groups. Learn along with your customers.