2015 looks like it may be the tipping point when mobile engagement comes to dominant the retail marketplace, and digital marketers will need to increasingly shift their strategies to accommodate. To better understand mobile digital marketing trends to watch in 2015 and how to best prepare for them, we spoke with a wide range of experts at the forefront of the field to bring you their predictions.
Shekhar Deo is the co-founder of EngageClick, the consumer engagement platform that uses machine-learning to create, manage, optimize, and deliver personalized interactive ads across mobile, tablet, desktop, digital out-of-home, and smart TVs. Deo points to a recent reports in The Guardian and Search Engine Watch that show shopping on mobile devices has surpassed desktop usage for online retail in the UK and increasingly the US. According to Deo:
“Mobile devices have becomes first point of access for information. Mobile is not just limiting itself to access information and make communication but also to take action. People are beginning to trust mobile devices for travel, purchases, movies, coffee, etc.”
Deo emphasizes how critical mobile engagement has become in light of these consumer trends. He explains that what is needed is: “A simplistic and personalized design for accessing information, capturing leads, showing ads, having dialogues with consumers has become paramount.” He recommends that brands focus on tracking the engagement behavior of visitors in order to deliver highly targeted, personal, and relevant messages based on their needs, desires and preferences. “Mobile “is” personal, it’s time advertising is too,” Deo explains.
The recent launch of Apple’s larger iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, along with other large “phablets” from other makers, are making it even easier for consumers to use their phones for all of their needs. According to Ryan Matzner, director of the leading mobile app design and development company Fueled:
“We expect trends towards mobile-primary and mobile-only users to continue, if not accelerate in 2015, as bigger devices and seamless payment tools like Apple Pay continue a march towards making mobile commerce an easier and better experience than traditional ecommerce. Why go to a computer where checking out means typing in a long credit number on an insecure website when using your phone means you can pay with your fingerprint?”
New mobile payment options, like Apple Pay and rival CurrentC are dramatically changing retailers approaches to how customers pay. Not only can these developments make shopping easier and safer for customers, they also offer a host of opportunities for digital marketers to engage with users in ways they couldn’t before. The more consumers use these technologies, the more information can be gleaned about their shopping habits, which in turn can be used to create more personalized, targeted approaches to marketing.
Sammy Lau, digital strategist at Canopy Labs, which works with eCommerce companies to personalize online customer experiences, predicts that Apple Pay and similar solutions are going to galvanize mobile eCommerce even more than we’ve already seen.
“Most consumers dislike having to enter credit card information on their smartphones, and have concerns around security on mobile devices. But with new payment solutions such as Apple Pay paving the way for fast and easy mobile purchases, we’ll start to see a new push around mobile eCommerce and a greater need to personalize customer experiences from the desktop to the smartphone.”
Lau recommends that eCommerce retailers and digital marketers should focus on created a smooth mobile shopping experience for customers and take advantage of these new payment solutions to provide a secure and straightforward purchasing process.
And Apple Pay may only be the beginning of this increased engagement. According to John “Jaq” Andrews, marketing and technology specialist for the custom mobile app development company Zco Corporation, companies are already showing interest integrating Apple Pay into new and existing apps. Andrews explains:
“Ironically, it looks like Apple Pay is spurring interest in contactless payment and digital wallet functionality on other platforms like Android, Windows Phone, and BlackBerry as well. Many of those phones have had the NFC chip that enables Apple Pay for years, but there’s never been the critical mass of consumers and retailers using the technology to push it into the mainstream. Now, retailers will be motivated to support Apple Pay, but won’t want to alienate the huge base of Android users, so there’s an opening for cross-platform mobile wallet solutions and cross-platform contactless payment terminals.”
According to Mobile Response, four times as many mobile apps are expected to be developed in 2015 than the current offerings. Michael Stricker, U.S. marketing director for digital marketing researcher company SEMrush, points out that the growing trend in mobile will also effect how consumers will use apps when shopping with their smart phones and tablets:
“Apps now consume 52% of our digital media time. It follows that Apps command 83% – 90% of our mobile attention. Mobile Ad platform NinthDecimal reports smartphone use for shopping purposes increased, as 45% of consumers made a purchase after seeing a mobile ad. Google Wallet, Amazon Payment and Apple Pay wait in the wings to satisfy the urge for security and convenience. iBeacon shifts the scale of geo-location down to the aisle level, for in-store targeted offers and customer recognition.”
Stricker also suggests that the increase in mobile engagement will also raise certain challenges that marketers will have to address: ‘App ghettoes’, where only a few apps get most of the use while others are forgotten and neglected, as well as “multi-screening behavior challenges advertiser’s ability to effectively target prospects who move from TV to smartphone to voice search
The increase in smartphone and tablet use for consumers also means that marketers will have to take mobile design into greater consideration in 2015. According to Reda Benembarek, co-founder of the user-generated magazine app Fanzine:
“Graphic design has little place in mobile social sharing today. The way we share information on mobile is in a stream format. It’s easy, it’s formatted and fast, but visually boring. We are building a social app that brings graphic design back into social sharing allowing for anyone on to instantly create and share photo magazines from anywhere, in seconds. This is ground breaking for brands. This way, a brand can still own it’s visual identity while sharing social content on the go.”
According to Alice Robinson from B2B inbound marketing agency Axon Garside: “Building websites strictly for mobile devices is becoming a thing of the past. With the number of mobile screens accounting for more than half of all connected devices, it’s time to think about making sure the mobile experience is the full experience. If you give mobile and tablet visitors a stripped-back version of your content, then only the minority are going to see the real deal. With fewer multiple domains and less duplicated content, responsive design can also be beneficial for your SEO. Businesses need to build sites that respond visually to different screen sizes and in some cases adapt functionality to the end user’s viewing method. Mobile browsing is here to stay, so give your visitors everything they need, regardless of how they visit you.”
Brandon Seymore of the online marketing agency Beymour Consulting explains the impact that mobile will have on optimization:
“Mobile has been a huge game-changer for online marketing, particularly for search engine optimization (SEO). So much so that Google has updated their mobile marketing best practices several times over the past few years. Sites that weren’t optimized for mobile (such as sites that use a lot of flash-based technology) didn’t provide a very good user experience. As a result, Google has started to omit sites from search results that don’t adhere to Google’s mobile marketing best practices. As time goes on, I think that we’ll see more and more sites switch to a responsive design or start using mobile-specific sites to avoid future ranking penalties.”
Location Based Marketing
As customers begin to utilize mobile payment options and NFC (Near Field Communication) chips become a bigger part of our daily lives, marketers will increasingly need to take a users location into account when seeking engagement. Done well, location based marketing can better target users wherever they go and provide relevant messaging. Patrick J. Sweeney II, president and CEO of the social marketing platform dwinQ, predicts the coming shift:
“2015 is not just the year you can finally run your life with a phone, it’s the year you can run your life without thinking. Through technology like BlueTooth LE, RFID and NFC the wave of the phone can change your life. The phone will become your gateway to an effortless world. By the end of 2015 when you put on your running shoes the entire experience will change. The phone connects to your fitness devices (heart monitor, calorie counter, GPS, etc.) after run it send data to your coach, then the phone pulls down you next optimized workout while ordering the proper nutrition. Which is shipped to your door. All this will happen without you doing a thing, and your predictive shopping will feel like someone sent you a present (even though you are paying for it).”
Sweeney goes on to explain: “Socially when you are having fun and engaged in an activity your moments will be shared automatically by cameras at places like baseball parks or ski areas. If you choose these photos will post directly to your Facebook page or Instagram feed. The price for all this convenience and predictive automation? The photos will have a logo on them and you will be the star in a product-placement moment. The coach will get props when you win your age group, and Facebook will get all your data, plus Amazon will get more sales.”
And Sweeney is not alone in this type of thinking about digital marketing in 2015. David Arnoux, head of growth at the collaboration platform Twoodo, sees exciting opportunities for location and intention-based mobile marketing in the coming year:
“Consumers will increasingly receive the right information *where* and *when* they need it the most. Imagine receiving a “for the next hour only” promotion just after entering a store or being notified of a free yoga workshop from the gym you’ve just entered. More importantly the term ‘Mobile’ will be less and less associated with phones or tablets and will be more about offering a customer’ information when his intention is the highest. No matter what his device, be it a phone, a smart watch, a car dashboard or a public interactive screen.”
Search marketing manager Justin Emig predicts: “Mobile will asked to be more predictive and many of the app experiences are moving that way. Much of the need for smartphone usage is immediate and geotargeted. We have a specific need, in that moment, whether it is retail, service, or query based (looking up something form a conversation you had with others) and our phones need to deliver accurate information quickly.”
In light of predictions by Princeton researchers that Facebook will lose 80 percent of its peak user base between 2015 and 2017 due to algorithm changes, many digital marketers will likely be looking for other mobile avenues to reach consumers. According to JoAnna Dettmann and Kaysha Kalkofen, co-founders, tSunela digital marketing:
“Not only are digital marketers going to look at other social media networks, but they are also going to allocate significant funds to boosting or sponsoring specific content on social sites. Companies are going to have to pay to get their content seen on social networks (yes, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, and YouTube offer sponsored content placements and ads), and they are going to rely on digital marketers to determine which content is worthy of the investment-on which channel.”
And according to Kim Garretson, director of Realizing Innovation online service for Missouri School of Journalism:
“With the evolution of omnichannel marketing that aims to identify and engage the consumer at many touch points, this will be the year where many retailers and brands realize their mobile advertising often irritates because of its single message: BUY NOW. What’s the alternative to “Buy”? It’s ‘Track’. Watch for mobile campaigns to ask consumers if they’d like to track specific items for price history and alerts to upcoming sales at their favorite stores and sites compared to competitors’ prices. Also, when consumers don’t buy in store or online, but share items via social networks, like pinning to Pinterest, these marketing campaigns will ask consumers if they’d also like to track prices and promotions while they share. Other touch points where consumers will be offered tracking are when they encounter out-of-stock items in store, or create wish lists.”
To 2015 and Beyond
Clearly there are some major shifts that will take place in the coming year as smartphone and tablet usage escalates and digital marketers shift their focus to the increasingly mobile consumer. From mobile payments and location-based marketing to design strategies and app development, marketers will have to become increasingly adaptable and savvy in order to better engage users wherever they are. As we look forward to this exciting future, what trends do you predict for digital marketing in 2015? Let us know in the comment section.