Those pesky customers and their devices

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I’ve been talking to many businesses about where they should be focusing their energies, in regards to mobile site vs. app vs. iPad app vs enormous movable flaming billboard. After listening to many business talk about the performance of their iPad apps vs their site (some selling twice as many items through their iPad app as opposed to their site) I realized that the customer is as usual in complete control. As these devices become established in user behavior as their favorite, they will want to connect with you via their device of choice. Some will be iPhone people, while others will be mobile site centric. And of course depending on what situation (time of day/location) they will have a preferred device and method of interacting with your brand. By not participating in those venues you’re limiting your brand. You’re forcing them down the path that you believe is most vital. Remember, it doesn’t matter what you think; the customer is in control. Customers have always been in control and chosen how they interact with you. In the store? Online? These devices have only expanded their options. As a business you need to participate in all of these venues and then pay attention to what they would like to do. Don’t just throw something up, because it will most likely decrease brand equity. You need to create something foundational, taking advantage of the device’s strengths. I made a short list of what I believe are each devices/methods strengths. This list is based on what I heard at the Shop.org conference earlier this week.

  • iPhone/Android = Location, Niche – Apps are the future of LBS adoption (for now, unless HTML 5 really kills it) and apps are all about niche brands.
  • iPad app = Engagement: more time spent reviewing the product/service. Native app provides a much better experience and eBay’s app, which is a “buy only device” has had a 20% uptick from the average online experience.
  • iPad browser = Engagement lite: This may be perceived as novelty now but as more people buy iPads (50 million by the end of 2013), it’s becoming the personal surfing tool.
  • Mobile site = Helpful tool: Where is the business located? What is their number? I need to buy it now!
  • Site = Information: Product reviews, technical specs,etc. The bottom of the progressive disclosure funnel.
  • Facebook = Familiarity: That’s where the customers are.1/3 of all Internet traffic in the US is going to Facebook.

You notice I didn’t list eCommerce/mCommerce in here. That’s because it is assumed to everywhere it makes sense in the experience and it’s our jobs as marketers to determine where that is based on the business model we’re working with/creating.

Many then ask; “Is this incremental growth or am I cannibalizing my other properties?” Wrong question. It’s really a question of meeting your customer’s needs. They’re developing a proclivity for their devices based on their situation (location, time, etc). Call me crazy, but customers are kind of important for business. And yes, addressing all of these divergent needs did just increase your costs, but more importantly increased the opportunity for synergies between mediums. (Yep. I said, synergies. I know. I know.) So jump in. The water’s warm and the sharks are ready!

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I am an Associate Professor of Digital Marketing at the Daniels College of Business, University of Denver. I also consult with startups and established brands. I'm currently focused on artificial intelligence, cognitive neuroscience and culture. I am married to an amazing woman and have two incredible children. I was raised in Colorado and spend my free time with family, biking, snowboarding and going to the Pacific Ocean to SCUBA dive and/or surf. I'm passionate about architecture, design, street art, photography and the art that tattooing has evolved into.

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