A Whole New 5G World

2019 is shaping up to be 5G’s debutante year. It is slowly being rolled out and tested in the Midwest, namely Chicago and Minneapolis, and its download speed is quite impressive. The rumors have been swirling about the arrival of 5G for months, and now that it’s here, it’s pretty clear that it is already changing the game. Consumers, already impatient and looking for the next fastest thing, are likely going to have even higher expectations. (Will it be enough to make Apple users leave the cachet of their iPhones to make the switch to Android? Time will tell.)

Here’s what’s likely to be the outcome of a 5G network, and what marketers can do to prepare for this brave new (digital) world.

More on shorter notice.  Faster download times, more available data at the drop of a hat, AR capabilities, the list goes on. 5G can support a larger menu of digital assets that contribute to a more fully integrated experience. Many Americans use both computer, TV and phones, but with 5G, that may change as phones are likely going to be on the vanguard of the 5G experience, followed by OTT.

Higher consumer expectations. As I already noted, with a larger variety at a faster pace, it’s possible that consumers will adjust relatively quickly to the speed and look for products and services that can be supported on a 5G network. If they are on the network, then they may be eyeing products that can make that transition seamlessly and intuitively. This puts pressure on the UX/UI side of things to create an immersive experience in less time: sleeker interfaces, user-friendly browsers, pages loading instantly, no lag on apps or videos. Soon this will become the norm, not a luxury, and failing to provide this experience will almost immediately result in a loss of customers.

Getting ready to make the transition. Transitions are never easy, but if you have a plan before 5G penetrates more fully into the market, you may be able to stay a step ahead of the competition — and retain your customers.

·      Make customer-centricity part of your game plan. Tools like SEO optimization are great, but it may be beneficial to take the 30,000-foot view of your customer base. How can you help them? What do they need? How can you cut through the clutter to deliver the solution they are looking for? Here’s a hint: find out how much time a person may spend Googling the answer to their problem, and shorten it.

·       Be personal, don’t personalize. Nearly every person with an email address has gotten an email on their birthday with a coupon. Sometimes it even goes to the junk mail folder before you get a chance to see it. Who wants a coupon on their birthday? Going off information that you can get from a drivers’ license is going to make you sound inauthentic. Customers crave genuine connections with their brands, and want to feel like they are spending time with a trusted person who is important to them.

·       Take inventory of your digital infrastructure. It’s always good to know what tools you have and how to leverage them, but are they future-proof? Can they survive an influx of new technology, like 5G? Will they be useful five years from now? Asking the tough questions now can prevent organizational pain points down the road.

It’s easy to ignore change, especially if what you’re working with is just fine for the time being. But just like when I was a teenager and our parents sighed over us “kids with phones” other companies figured out how to market to us (hello, Candy Crush). Now we’re adults with phones, and we can buy more (after we pay our student loans). And we want to buy more and buy faster. There’s no telling what new trends will appear after 5G is available everywhere, but once it is, there will be no going back.

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