Started with Mobile—Now we’re here

This week, July 27, 2016 in San Francisco, California, I had the pleasure of attending Swrve’s mobile moments event, graciously hosted by their client and partner Microsoft. 

Martin DoettlingSwrve’s CMO, kicked off the afternoon exclaiming how mobile has changed the way we interact, communicate, shop, and ultimately, live. With the introduction of Pokémon GO, mobile has taken on an entirely new dimension, and has now become so prevalent in our lives that we are actually bumping into people who are glued to their phones playing the game. 

Swrve’s Mobile Moments event featured a variety of experts in the mobile field to discuss how mobile has re-shaped and is re-shaping our marketing practices. As well as how new connected technology continues to influence and serve as a catalyst in this evolution of marketing with the common themes of understanding people through data, connecting across devices, managing friction, and being of service to the individuals we serve.  According to Martin, the average person checks their phone 150 times a day, and for many people, much more frequently than that. The smartphone is your most personal device, it’s the first thing you see when you wake up, and often the last thing you view before you go to sleep. Since it’s such a personal device and with us nearly every second of the day, marketers must evolve their techniques to engage individuals on their mobile phones in a manner that doesn’t come off as rude or invasive. 

As a byproduct of mobile’s influence on marketing practices, we are witnessing The rise of The Connected Marketer™, a new approach to marketing that was introduced by Michael Becker, Co-founder of mCordis and Managing Partner of The Connected Marketer Institute, following Martin’s introduction. 

Becker shared with the audience that by 2025 there will be 75 to 500 Billion connected devices worldwide with an average of 50 connected devices per household and 10 per person.  He explained that we all must focus on being of service to the connected individual. We must strive to manage friction in the lives of the people we serve, and it starts by moving away from calling people, shoppers, consumers, customers, etc., and recognize that we are all individuals.  Consumers and shoppers are labels of convenience that marketers place on people.  

Marketers from leading brands have begun to serve the connected individual by serving their needs, at the right time and place within the right context. For example, Becker asked the question, “when do you check in to a hotel?” A couple people in the crowd shouted out 3 PM or 4 PM. Michael responded, “your hotel should be ready for you to check in the moment you want to check-in, e.g. the moment you get off the plane your room should be ready when you arrive.  Marriott gets this and is meeting the needs of connected individuals at scale by sending a mobile notification via push notification or text message to confirm with individuals that their hotel room is ready upon their arrival.

Following Michael, Uber’s Vinay Ramani shared insights on serving the connected individual. Uber, a common brand name thrown around particularly when it comes to mobile applications is now serving connected individuals in 490 cities around the world, and counting. Their key to success? Uber focuses on reducing friction by saving individuals time, bringing calm, bringing joy, and saving/making money for individuals.

Ramani remarked that Uber’s process to meet the needs of those they serve by breaking their target market into two categories, Riders and Drivers. For the Drivers category, Uber created a four-step process that took drivers through 1) acquisition and sign up, 2) onboarding and training, 3) quality and fraud detection, and 4) engagement and retention. After this process Uber continued to monitor, benchmark, and improve the procedure to reduce time and money based on the cities they served.

For instance, the process was much faster in China contrary to the U.S. because Uber was able to pre-qualify drivers by getting access to their driver’s licenses from a central organization rather than waiting for each individual in the U.S. to upload their driver’s license information. 

Next to speak was John Lee from Twitter. Twitter, while a drastically different brand than Uber, takes a similar approach to Uber when advising marketer when they look to get the most out of Twitter, that is marketers must first listen to their audience to identify key themes. 

For example, Twitter worked with Bud Light in a campaign called #BeerMe. The first step was to listen in which they identified two common themes; people like to drink, and people are lazy. So they twisted the themes into an idea and tried it at a football game. On the back of every seat was a call to action encouraging fans to tweet #BeerMe for a cold Bud Light delivered right to their seat in 7 minutes. 

Another common theme is people’s love of personalization—we just want to feel special. Coke created a campaign with Twitter #ShareACoke that did exactly that. Using a fancy algorithm Twitter was able to cross check the most popular names with the most popular Twitter usernames and curate a Coke bottle image with a person’s first name printed on the image of the bottle. So when they participated in the program they received a personal response back, an image tailored just for them. Coke then took it two steps further by including a bitmoji that allowed users to purchase their customized bottle. On top of this, they had a tag a friend feature in which you could tag up to five friends including the #ShareACoke and then you could order a 5 pack of the customized bottles with each of the friends mentioned.  This is a perfect example of a brand following the four principles of The Connected Marketer that Becker had spoken of earlier in the day – Understanding, Connection, Friction Management, and Being of Service. 

Following Twitter was Amazon’s Alexa Developer Evangelist, Memo Doring. Contrary to the other presenters who spoke about the focal points of reducing friction in individual’s daily lives, Amazon focused on how it is reducing friction with other technology by using voice. Amazon Echo, introduced in November 2014, is able to connect everything through voice. “Amazon Echo is hardware, but essentially it’s just referencing to other hardware in your house—think Jarvis in the Iron Man movies” said Memo Doring.

The designers of the Echo built it horizontally so that it would work with multiple other devices and not be tailored to a specific technology provider. What really makes Amazon stick out, especially when it comes to reducing friction, is its end goal. Amazon has shared its voice enabled technology with numerous competitors because rather than making money, or being the “best”, their goal is to voice enable everything. In Doring’s words, Amazon strives to “Bring those who are technology illiterate to interacting with technology at an emotional level”.

Lastly to close out the conference was a panel discussion about the role that mobile apps play in marketing, particularly when it comes to a mobile strategy. Included on the panel were Dina Chaiffetz from Prolific Interactive, Benjamin Diggles from Oracle Marketing Cloud, Sue Cho from Hollar, Leo Giel from YouAppi, and Catherine Silvestre from WB Ellen Digital Ventures.  The app market has grown 63% year over year according to Danielle Leviatas SVP of marketing and communications at App Annie. In fact, 51 minutes out of every hour spent on a mobile device is spent in an app. This drastic rise in time has led to the misconception that having a mobile app means you have a mobile strategy. However, to begin the discussion, the panelists unanimously agreed that having a mobile app does not mean you have a mobile strategy. Furthermore, designing a mobile strategy should be the first thing you do to ideate whether an app is even necessary.

When designing this mobile strategy, marketers can ask themselves how they plan on reducing friction for the individuals they serve, and then what creative ways they can achieve that. By following these basic principles, brands will not only make their target market’s lives easier, but leave them delighted.