There’s a new word in the marketing community called “phygital” — or the idea that
physical and digital experiences are blending. The trend makes sense. After all, where exactly is the line between the 3D and pixelated worlds, especially after 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic pulled our online and offscreen identities even closer together.
As the world readies itself for the next normal, one of the most important investments every brand — large or small — can make is its mobile experience. Brick-and-mortar retail stores that reopen will rely on phones to address public health concerns, while online businesses need to be responsive to their customer’s wants and needs.
To help you navigate your business growth and evolution strategy, we’ve rounded up five not-so-obvious insights to expand the way you think about your mobile customer experience.
1. The smartphone economy is growing
Smartphone ownership around the world is growing. What this trend means for businesses is that there is a rapid and ever-growing expansion of a total addressable market. Now let’s translate that idea into everyday speech and expand on its significance.
It short, an increase in a total addressable market means that there are more potential customers. When people use a platform for the first time, there’s a certain level of excitement that comes from the “newness” of an experience. As a business owner, you have the opportunity to capture a new audience base at a pivotal moment when they’re seeking new customer experiences.
Here are a few trends, according to the Pew Center, to keep in mind with regards to first-time smartphone owners:
- They’re more likely to be from advanced economies.
- They span all age groups, but younger generations are leading the way.
- They tend to come from a higher income level and are more educated.
- They are equally likely to be male and female.
The bottom line is that the mobile economy is an untapped market for growth for companies of all sizes.
2. Mobile creates integrated, simple brand experiences
Smartphones enable two-way interactions with brands across a variety of dimensions. Consider the case of Starbucks’s Order and Pay feature as an example. In 2018, 12% of the company’s total sales came from its mobile ordering feature.
There are a few in-app features that gave rise to this end result:
- Integrating a loyalty program into the commercial experience.
- Sending notifications to customers when orders are ready.
- Proactively recommending drink selections people might like.
This type of integrated experience is especially valuable in light of the cognitive fatigue, stress, and anxiety due to the pandemic. Human minds need a little extra support, and a mobile app can help facilitate.
3. Mobile reduces complexity in communication
One of the challenges communicating with audiences over social media is that attention spans can be fleeting. On a platform like Facebook or Twitter, you may have trouble connecting with your audience — feed-style environments can make it tough to engage in a constructive, focused discussion. When you shift your customer experience to mobile, you can provide your audience more control over their chosen experiences.
Think of all the ways people communicate using their phones beyond old-fashioned calls. They’re using SMS (text), WhatsApp, Messenger, and email. You can also set up a push notification to reach people with helpful, in-the-moment reminders.
Brands can empower customers by putting them in the driver’s seat of communication.
- Brands are finding that text messages can be a great way for companies to “keep a conversation going with consumers and foster a deeper relationship,” according to a recent article in Digiday.
- Over 75% of customers are open to receiving SMS from a brand after opt in. In other words, people trust texting as a platform to receive commercial information, but only when they give their express consent for these communications.
- 67% of consumers believe delivery updates are the most effective SMS messages, followed by order confirmations (64%), appointment reminders (64%), calendar reminders (54%), and promotional coupons (49%), according to research from Textlocal.
- Nearly 90% of texts are opened in three minutes, which validates the previously-known fact that people pay close attention to their phones.
You can read more about these stats in context in the following resources from ManyChat:
- MMS vs. SMS: What’s the Difference for Marketing?
- What Is MMS Messaging, and How Does It Support Marketing?
4. “Near me” search queries are on the rise
Even before the pandemic, “near me” mobile searches were on the rise, according to Think with Google. This trend signifies a deeper integration between real-world experiences and the tiny computers that live in peoples’ pockets.
If you run a brick-and-mortar, you’re likely thinking about ways to route people to your store. The importance of proactively garnering foot traffic is critical, especially during a time when shoppers may not be feeling safe outside of their homes. In cases where people want to get their shopping done quickly, a mobile device can help.
“People now expect search technology to find the places in their area where they can get what they need,” wrote the research team at Google. “This more-informed shopper no longer has to waste precious time driving around town to multiple stores.”
Mobile usage has the potential to make peoples’ lives easier and help storefronts recover from pandemic-induced revenue loss. The key to success for a “near me” strategy is to be helpful and reduce the cognitive overhead that your shoppers are experiencing.
5. Mobile is the foundation for futuristic tech
Mobile technology is just the beginning.
A smartphone is a gateway for more sophisticated and creative ways to build human connections.
“[Augmented reality] is all about superimposing computer-generated images on top of your view of reality, thus creating a composite view that augments the real world,” wrote Mark Jansen and Paula Beaton for Digital Trends. “AR apps run the gamut from interactive map overlays and virtual showrooms.”
Currently, mobile AR has use cases ranging from dissecting frogs to learning new languages to creating art. There are also applications for online store environments — keep in mind that even with a COVID-19 vaccine, some proportion of the world’s population may suffer from PTSD or other mental health consequences due to the pandemic. These individuals may need some time to reacclimate to routine activities such as trying on clothing in dressing rooms.
Smartphones and AR technology, in particular, has the potential to provide a public health benefit.
Last but not least
Mobile devices are revolutionizing human communication. Despite the promise and potential of this technology; however, brands need to proceed with caution and employ good judgment.
Studies have shown that among children especially, screens tend to make mental health challenges worse.
In our society, companies have a lot of power. With this power comes a deep sense of responsibility. When choosing to integrate mobile devices into a customer experience strategy, it’s important to prioritize the following:
- Messages that reduce rather than add to cognitive overload.
- Clear mechanisms for ensuring data privacy and protection.
- A pathway for obtaining user consent to receive communication such as a push notification.
- Considerations for child protections, to provide parents with a sense of support.
- Continued prioritization of public health.
The mobile device is one of the most important inventions of humanity. Use it for good. Keep peoples’ best interests in mind. After all, customer satisfaction is all about empathy.
A chatbot could be a valuable addition to your mobile marketing strategy. Sign up for a free account with ManyChat, below.