“Take Giant Leaps” was the theme of the 2016 Bottle Rocket Mobile Summit in Dallas. With speakers from all disciplines and industries offering their take on the current state of the mobile space, what soon became clear is that these giant leaps can’t take place without some smaller steps first. Some of these steps are simple enough, such as taking the time to actually listen to your customers, while others require brands to rethink how they engage with users entirely.
Below are a few key takeaways from our annual event:
30 billion moments = 30 billion opportunities
The average consumer picks up their smartphone between 150 and 200 times every day. Every time you reach for your device is a “mobile moment,” says Julie Ask, Vice President, Principal Analyst, Forrester. That’s 30 billion daily mobile moments. But only 7% of the companies surveyed by Forrester currently have the budget, talent, and technology to serve these moments.
“There is an arms race going on for mobile moments,” said Ask. She pointed out the inherent problem that most companies face; namely, that only your best customer is going to take the time to download, install, and register with your app. Even then, they’re not likely to spend significant browsing time with you. Ask categorizes herself as one of 75 million “shifted Americans” who expect to get whatever they want, immediately, and in context. These shifted consumers are highly task-oriented; they want to get into an app, get the job done, and get out.
Very few brands stand a chance of meeting these impatient expectations, due to the lack of context. Case in point; Ask has thousands of unread emails on her iPhone, but her Facebook and Slack icons are clean since they contain a hand-picked group of friends, family and colleagues. There’s context to these communications.
However, it’s not necessarily all about owning the customer’s time. While only 15% of app categories (social, money, weather, etc.) own a whopping 72% of these moments, there are a whole host of other apps which might not own the moments but do own valuable data, such as maps, search, calendar, and virtual assistants.
Contextual, omni-channel, fragmented experiences across apps will be a benchmark for success in this arms race, says Ask. Imagine how much less of a hassle it would be when planning a night out, if you could check restaurant reviews and movie screen times, communicate that with your friends, and arrange transport, but seamlessly and without interruption?
That’s just a simple use case, though. Ask believes that this notion of mobile moments will go far beyond our phones, and into cars, connected homes, and virtual reality.
One of the key mobile trends which Bottle Rocket’s Renee McKeon Rives has identified over the last year or so is humanization through technology. The internet has always helped people to better themselves, says Rives, primarily as a tool for gaining and sharing knowledge. With mobile, the notion of becoming a better person is far less abstract; there are apps for all kinds of health, wellness, mindfulness and empathy needs. Rives cites Chick-fil-A as a brand which has gone against the idea that smartphones isolate families from each other, by creating a coop to contain devices while they eat together. “It’s not always about encouraging people to stay on their phones,” she says, “you can be part of that mobile moment and also be part of helping families connect in real life.”
This new mobile humanity extends to finding new ways to live more naturally, with countless blogs for natural recipes, and apps for learning what fish are edible that are not endangered or unethically farmed. The next logical step here, Rives predicts, will be widespread adoption of molecular sensors which can scan fruit and tell you if it contains pesticides. “Technology and nature are often at odds with each other,” says Rives, “but technology can help people make more natural choices.”
The cost of connectivity
We all love free apps, but what’s becoming increasingly clear is that a great deal of the time, they’re not free at all; the act of downloading it can result in a disproportionate data cost. About 20% of smartphone users have stated that they consider the cost of data to be a financial burden. But there’s an opportunity in this, says Martin Lange, Global Consulting Partner at OgilvyRED. Certain carrier companies are already exploring zero-rating; for example, it’s now free to binge-watch Netflix on T-Mobile. Then there’s Jana, which rewards users with free data when they download new apps to their phone — data which the consumer can use however they like. Google has found that consumers are largely ambivalent to carriers, and Project Fi has proven that many don’t care which network they’re connecting to, as long as they have WiFi access.
The goal of all brands, or, at least, one of them, is to enable frictionless commerce. However, connectivity can provide a huge obstacle here; retailers are quick to admit that the WiFi situation in their stores makes accessing coupons a bad experience and they need to do much better. When it comes to online transactions, Lange simply asks: why should the consumer have to pay for the data it takes to make a purchase via your app?
Elsewhere, in the developing world, connectivity is something of a mission-critical issue to overcome. There are now regions where people have access to affordable mobile phones, even if they don’t have access to clean water. While they have the physical devices, they can’t afford the data contracts; hardware is no longer causing the bottleneck, it’s the price of connectivity.
Empowering connectivity has proven to be somewhat problematic, as evidenced by India’s recent ban against Facebook Free Basic on net neutrality grounds. There is, however, room here to build connectivity into the social enterprise; Lange cited Coke Ekocentre as a prime example. Coke went into regions with zero connectivity and built kiosks which provided WiFi. Sure, they sold Coke, but they also included refrigerators which could be used to store vaccines. By augmenting connectivity with basic requirements and branded goods, Coke essentially created a market where there was none before. Something for brands to think about, especially when you consider that increasing connectivity in a country by just 10% can result in measurable GDP growth.
So yes, taking giant leaps is certainly possible in mobile, but you might need a running start.