To Win at Mobile, Get Inside the Consumer's Mind

We Can Learn a Lot Just by Observing How a 5-Year-Old Uses an iPad

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My 5-year-old son is addicted to YouTube. He wants to watch everything from Lego videos to “Curious George,” and he knows how to navigate my iPad better than my 65-year-old mother. Marketers who want to capture the attention of consumers in the age of mobile would do well to think more like he does. 

Why think like a 5-year-old? The rapid adoption of smartphones and tablets has created an ultra-connected consumer. To be successful in mobile marketing and stay ahead of where mobile commerce is heading, brands must shift their approach and think about consumer behavior on mobile devices. 

Here are three simple ways to think like a 5-year-old, and why each provides the foundation for success in mobile marketing.

Make It Easy For Me.  From Velcro shoes to yogurt tubes, parents will pay a premium to make their lives easier -- which means keeping their kids happy. Anything that creates extra work -- if, for example, a child has to attach the Velcro to his sneaker himself, or a consumer has to scan QR codes or fill out mobile sweepstakes forms to print coupons --  is less likely to catch on.  The multi-tasking, smartphone-obsessed consumer quickly tires of novelty, especially when it requires a lot of effort.

Lowe’s has mastered the art of the simple in its brilliant new mobile campaign, which leverages Vine, a mobile app that enables users to create and post short (six-second, thus the “fix in six”) home- improvement video clips. Not only are the clips simple  (“Keep bugs out of your sandbox with a little cinnamon,” ”Does your rug slip and slide? Use caulk to make it stay put”), but they are brand relevant and tap into key consumer insights. Ultimately it’s easier for consumers to access tips to common home-improvement problems in a mobile-friendly, snackable way. Even my YouTube-loving 5-year-old would find it mesmerizing.

Make Mobile Part of the Routine. One secret to a parent’s well-being is keeping the kids on a schedule. From nap times to snack times, kids crave boundaries; routines add to a sense of comfort and form a basis for expectations.  As smartphone usage continues to rise, companies that take advantage of mobile habits that are already routine for users -- such as using mobile e-mail to close the redemption loop from online and mobile exposure to in-store results -- will be the true mobile champions.  A recent report from Knotice forecasts that most brands will see at least half of their commercial e-mails opened via mobile devices by the end of 2013.

Here is a solid mobile e-mail example that Toys R Us used this past holiday season. During a cluttered category and time of year, Toys R Us simplified its design for form and function, tapping into daily e-mail routines with a simple, visual design that would stop a 5-year old in her tracks. 

This, coupled with eMarketer’s prediction that digital coupon usage is expected to increase 25 percent over the next two years, points to the fact that marketers are figuring out how best to make their e-mail push strategy for mobile phones part of the routine. 

Focus or Fail.  I have tried dragging my 5-year-old around for a full day of errands, going from the dry cleaners to the tailor, but it never ends up well. Why? The focus is on my needs and what I need to get done rather than what is best for my 5-year-old. For marketers, it is about understanding consumer needs. Tactics like scavenger hunts to snap QR codes and asking consumers to download and save PDF coupons are not going to work well because they require too much work. If you are looking for innovative ways to engage shoppers, focus on tapping into existing behaviors and make it easy rather than “fun.” The abandonment rate for services that make you work too hard reinforces this message.

The end goal for most marketers is to build customer loyalty and to drive sales and revenue. From Path to Shopkick to Foursquare, social engagement start-ups have lured brands with the promise of mobile consumer engagement, but the verdict is still out on their ability to drive revenue. As smartphone usage continues to rise, brands that tap into existing consumer behaviors from start to finish will be most successful in closing the redemption loop. This is why banks and credit card companies are in a prime position to take mobile marketing to the next level. Many are starting to offer added services to consumers that are both mobile-centric and tie back to existing credit or debit card accounts.

In mobile marketing (as in parenting), success can be attributed back to focus: Keeping it simple, relevant and ultimately delivering an experience that meets the needs of all your consumers.

Jeff Fagel is VP of marketing and brand development at Edo. You can find him on Google+ and Twitter.


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