Incorporating tablets into 
mobile marketing strategy

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Joe Saumweber, director of digital and mobile strategy, Rockfish Interactive
Joe Saumweber, director of digital and mobile strategy, Rockfish Interactive

Just like the smartphone before it, tablets are officially here to stay. Tablet penetration is expected to triple this year and double again next year, so smart brands are giving careful consideration to this new format. However, the iPad and tablets in general are neither fish nor fowl. Marketers should take notice, as tablets present new ways to engage consumers that complement both the PC and the smartphone, but are fundamentally different in many ways.

A Nomura Securities International forecast shows that 500 million smartphones will ship in 2011, while some 52 million tablets will sell in the same period. Although smartphones dramatically outnumber tablets, retailers are already seeing more visitors and revenue from tablets than from iPhone and Android phones combined. Shoppers are lounging on their sofas at night, TV on, tablet in hand, ready to shop, entertain and share. Successful marketers are leveraging these behaviors in combination with their own content to add value. 

The ultimate taxonomy test is use. Smartphones are on-the-go and in-store devices. They are more utilitarian in nature, and used for quick fact-finding, serving up content relevant to context and location. Tablets, on the other hand, are primarily an at-home device and have a more casual user who likes to browse and explore content. The larger screen size can make the interaction more experiential, which provides an opportunity to really immerse a user in the brand through site, sound and gesture. Tablet design is starting to influence standard Web design in ways that shouldn't be ignored.

Tablets aren't just for consumers; they're also effective as in-store devices for associates. In a recent survey by Demandware, only 16% of consumers said that store associates are the best resource for product information. That number rises to 43% when the associate is aided by a Web-connected device. Tablets present a unique opportunity to win loyalty in-store by extending the shelf with online products, helping to inform the purchase decision with product details and 
reviews, and enabling a convenient point-of-sale.

Tablet strategy can't be an island. Consumers expect connected logins, shopping carts, lists and registries across all channels to deliver a holistic digital user experience. Marketers can't limit their planning to the initial build costs. They must also account for feature updates to keep it fresh, otherwise they risk joining the rising ranks of app abandonment. 

To excel, marketers need to assess all digital components as they incorporate tablets into their digital strategy. Tablets are a distinct, important and rich channel, so the smart marketer will build tablet assets that fit well in a greater digital ecosystem and contribute to the overall customer experience.


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