“When consumers adopt new technologies, they do old things in new ways. When they internalize technology, they begin to do new things.”      — James McQuivey, Forrester vice president and principal analyst.

We have one foot firmly planted in a postdigital world, a place where digital is “fundamental, not experimental,” and increasingly humanized, enhancing all facets of life. In Spike Jonze’s latest film, Her, an artificial intelligence operating system becomes the object of one man’s love. Her heralds a not-too-distant future, in which extraordinary technologies are deeply personal and commonplace—or as McQuivey might say, a time when humans internalize digital and invent new ways to use it.

Mobile, perhaps more than any other consumer technology, has accelerated the advent of a postdigital age. Smartphones and tablets are changing how people socialize, get around, engage with brands, and shop. Mobile marketers have to think beyond scaling websites to smaller screens and find more human and life-enhancing ways to connect with customers and influence sales.

The Mobile Opportunity

Portable devices are ideally suited to bridging—if not obliterating—the digital-physical divide. This post rounds out my Mobile Madness series, in which I share ways to develop a meaningful mobile marketing method inspired by customers and centered on solutions. There are many untested strategies in the emerging mobile field, but one thing is certain: Digital is merging with offline and traditional channels to create seamless, customer-driven experiences.

If you’re ready to design a far-reaching mobile method, you can’t go wrong using mobile to empower individuals’ in-store and in-person interactions. In a mobile future, websites, phone reps, brick-and-mortar shops, and in-store sales reps are still relevant—we will just find new ways to integrate them with our digital lives. Here are four ways to enhance the in-person experience with mobile.

Four Ways to Enhance the In-Person Experience with Mobile

1. Be In-Store

After browsing on a mobile device, roughly 50 percent of shoppers complete their purchase on a smartphone or tablet. The rest head to their laptops, desktops, or the nearest store. Some people prefer shopping in-store because the mobile website has slow load times, poor navigation, or checkout problems. Others want the tactile, face-to-face experience, and a chance to evaluate their purchases up close. Either way, the in-person experience is crucial to purchase paths.

Compliment the in-person experience with digital strategies that assist or guide visitors within your physical location. Groupe FLO, an international restaurant brand, boosted sales 30 percent among its loyalty program members. Members who dine are targeted at the point of sale “with personalized messages and offers via their receipts.” Cash registers are connected to a single integrated Adobe Campaign platform, which also manages the marketing database. Each restaurant now has a 1:1 communication channel to gather data and greet diners with personalized value.

2. Be Helpful

Empower associates to give customers targeted assistance. Verizon boasts a mobile sales floor, including in-store devices, interactive kiosks, and salespeople who carry product information and registers in their palms. The mobile system motivates employees to engage shoppers using gamification elements, interactive goal setting, tailored sales tips, updated product information, and real-time results. Customers can skip the checkout line for quick and easy one-on-one transactions.

Home Depot and Uber teamed up this holiday season to spread cheer and convenience. In 10 urban markets, Uber mobile app users discovered a new tree icon on their screens. With a tap of the icon, they can have a Christmas tree and stand from Home Depot delivered to their doors for one inclusive price. This partnership brought the store experience directly to customers’ homes—a truly helpful service during the busiest and coldest time of year.

3. Be Context Aware

Cover is a new Android app that overrides users’ screens to make apps visible and available even when the phone is locked. Only the most relevant apps, based on geolocation and past behavior, appear on the lock screen at a given time. Business apps like Evernote and Dropbox might appear during office hours, with social media and entertainment apps replacing them after dark. This context-aware mobile app puts digital in sync with individuals’ physical experiences.

Another example of context awareness comes from FirstEnergy. The company has 10 customized apps—one for each of its regional operating companies. Each regional service has its own brand, and so do the apps. Customers download apps based on where they live and recognize the logo of their local utility company. The localized apps also make it possible to “tailor messaging to regional conditions,” market new, relevant services, and group customers for more targeted support.

4. Be In the Moment

Walmart “geofences” its stores so mobile experiences can change as consumers come and go. As Walmart’s Global Head of Mobile Gibu Thomas says,

“There’s a big difference between what consumers need from you in store versus at home planning a trip. As a small example, Walmart’s shopping app transitions from assistance with list creation to assistance with wayfinding, tallying your basket, helping you manage your budget, and then checking out and paying.”

The shopping app also changes depending on the Walmart you’re visiting. Users see a price checker, local coupons, and a store map. This type of moment-to-moment digital responsiveness makes the app appear to think like a customer, and facilitates in-store shopping.

Twitter Mirror targets a different audience but encourages in-the-moment participation as well. A specially programmed tablet—framed like a gilded “mirror, mirror, on the wall”—hangs backstage at VIP events and TV talk shows. Celebrities can take selfies as they wait to go on stage and instantly share the photo on the show or event Twitter feed. This tactic turns mobile devices into second viewing screens for events like the Oscars. Followers at home gain a sense of being in on the exclusive action in real time.

“Begin to Do New Things”

If you can build a mobile marketing method that is present, contextual, and useful, you can directly influence in-store sales. According to a Deloitte study, “the conversion rate in the store for shoppers who use a retailer’s dedicated app is 21 percent higher than those who don’t.” Why? Because these apps enhance the shopping experience, making it extra relevant, efficient, and valuable. When all that stacks up, customers are less likely to browse elsewhere. As these examples demonstrate, it’s not just about in-store; it’s about in-person, wherever the person happens to be.

Visionary mobile marketing methods will help users adopt and internalize technologies, and break down the digital and physical silos to create one seamless, deeply connected experience.

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