By Julie Wittes Schlack
(eM+C)—Do mobile technologies have different unspoken rules of engagement than traditional print, broadcast or even online media channels? A recent study conducted by Communispace Corporation answers that question with an emphatic yes.
Indiscriminately pushing advertising to consumers on their smartphones and tablets generally wins only their scorn and loathing. But fear not. The same study reveals that when mobile interactions between brands and consumers are solicited, personalized and relevant, they’re no longer seen as advertisements or unwanted spam. Rather, consumers perceive the interactions as welcome connections from the brand.
To explore how mobility is influencing the lives and expectations of the typical U.S. consumer, Communispace engaged 200 consumers comprising a nationally representative sample of men and women from its IdeaSpace communities in both an online survey and ongoing discussion regarding their mobile usage, preferences and habits. These communities explore general interest issues for marketers and market researchers both by asking direct questions to community members and by learning from the spontaneous member-to-member conversations that occur within the communities.
What quickly became apparent within the IdeaSpace communities is that the unrestricted flow of content and the increased demands placed on users’ “anytime, anywhere” accessibility are potential tension points for everyday mobile consumers. As a result, they’re especially turned off when they encounter advertisements while using mobile applications or browsing the mobile web. Even the word “ad” elicited a strong negative reaction. On mobile platforms, traditional advertising messages felt generic, irrelevant and out of touch to participants. Poorly targeted mass messaging, whether in applications or on the mobile web, is viewed as intrusive and unhelpful.
In contrast, these increasingly empowered, informed and connected consumers yearn for streamlined, instantaneous and personalized experiences. What are the concrete implications of these findings for mobile marketers? Consider the following three tips for engaging consumers via mobile:
1. Avoid unsolicited contact. Mobile users are more protective of their privacy than they may be on their PCs. They loathe brands that initiate interactions without prior consent or approval. Seek that permission by incorporating mobile opt-in opportunities into existing communication channels such as website profiles, shopping carts, email newsletters, and coupon and rebate programs.
2. Hand over the reins. Mobile users require control over when, where, how and how often they interact with brands on mobile platforms. The more personalized the control, the better. Make the opt-in options granular by giving consumers choices not just about the frequency with which they hear from you, but also the stimulus to the contact. Do they want location-based offers? Notifications when certain items are on sale? SMS-based customer support?
3. Create custom, relevant experiences. Don’t limit your personalization to the mode of contact. Be as attentive to curating your mobile content as you are to your online content. If you’re a coffee retailer, for example, don’t just offer location-based or seasonal promotions via your mobile app. Facilitate knowledge and the building of community with fresh content on the general topic of coffee and then enable coffee lovers to connect with each other around that content.
So come on and connect already.
Julie Wittes Schlack is the senior vice president of innovation at Communispace Corporation.
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