Understanding mobile behavior
Direct marketing has always been about connecting with customers through timely, relevant and targeted messages that drive action. Technology's evolution this past decade hasn't changed these fundamentals, but it has opened up a new set of parameters. Mobile is the latest chapter in this evolution, placing new emphasis on understanding the context in which customers are operating while they interact with your brand.
Marketers can look through four main contextual lenses to better understand consumers: cultural, location, personal and interpersonal. Brands can build robust consumer-centric, cross-channel marketing strategies using research tools such as ethnography, customer pathways and network mapping.
Asking consumers about their mobile behavior is not reliable, as people display a subconscious set of self-monitoring and usage rituals. Ethnographic research such as observational studies, camera journaling and mobile personas is useful for research and prototyping.
Mobile, another contextual dimension to user experience, offers location-based services that enhance social sharing, group messaging, search and commerce by positioning each in a physical place. To better understand this, try charting what I call the complete customer experience pathway and assess milestones through the eyes of your customers rather than using metrics.
Consumer pathways give insight to where mobile can add value on a consumer's purchase path and are key to knowing mobile's role in a product experience, which can range from boosting awareness, supplying information or offering an entertaining experience.
Mobile's ability to enable geo-location allows users to connect, create and share wherever they are. At this pace, social and mobile will converge entirely, with mobile providing location-based context for everything we do.
With this in mind, it will be important to understand network mapping, the study of social network structures, in order to understand how people influence one another and how news, content and ideas are spread through social by means of mobile users.
Network mapping helps build a better understanding of people's social networks and their communication behaviors. For brands, it can help guide the user experience, design decisions and social marketing planning.
Mobile is pervasive and invisible, and people don't silo their behavior. Marketers need to stop siloing our channel mix and move towards an integrated strategy. Mobile will become the bridge that moves us across desktop, laptop, TV, automobile, digital out-of-home, point-of-sale and back.
Marketing continues to be about direct connections, but in order to make those connections meaningful and results-driven, we need to tailor our messages according to evolving user context.