At the recent Inbound Marketing Summit, mobile was the belle of the ball – the trend considered most likely to fundamentally shape marketing in the coming years. At the conference, I caught up with my fellow speaker Tim Hayden, SVP of Mobile Strategy for Edelman Digital. Here are five tips he shared about the future of mobile, and what you need to know to stay ahead of the curve.
Understand the person, not the technology. The value of mobile isn’t about its technological bells and whistles, says Hayden. Instead, “it’s understanding the utility the device brings and how someone’s life is made easier. It’s more efficient in terms of finding a place to drop off my dry cleaning, or the best place to get a burger in Boston. You have to understand the person before you understand the technology.” Too many companies and agencies still think of mobile as a tactical add-on. But that won’t get you far, says Hayden: “Mobile now transcends everything, and you have to take into account that behavior – how it disrupts things or can be leveraged.”
Your phone is more important than your tablet. The tablet battleground is fierce, and getting plenty of ink lately thanks to Apple’s introduction of the new iPad Mini. But overall, cautions Hayden, it’s your smartphone that will matter more: “The phone goes with people to bed, they use it as an alarm clock; it fits nicely in your pocket or purse. It just doesn’t become rational to carry around that larger device [the tablet] on your person, rather than the phone.” Indeed, cellphones already have massive penetration, with more than 80% of Americans owning one – and more than half of those are Internet-linked smartphones.
Small Businesses Shouldn’t Get Their Heads Turned. “When it comes to small businesses, there’s so much that’s sexy in social media and in mobile right now,” says Hayden. It’s easy for them to look at what Fortune 100 companies are doing with mobile and say, “Get me that!” But it may not be the smartest use of their dollars just yet. “From a large business standpoint, it makes sense, because they have experimental budgets,” says Hayden. “But too many small businesses are [jumping on the latest in mobile and] giving up on direct mail, on text messaging, on their mobile website – so many things that if they were integrated correctly, would allow for a more seamless and connected engagement experience with their customers.”
Large Businesses Need a Targeted Mobile Strategy. Let’s say you’re a major retailer, and you want to run a text message campaign. Great idea – except that it’s winter in the Northeast, and no one wants to take their hands out of their gloves. Increasingly, national companies who are running mobile campaigns need to factor in an array of complicated data to ensure their message gets through. “You have to take a snapshot, geographically and culturally, to see how people will use the technology,” says Hayden.
The Rise of Face-to-Face. Smartphones are getting better and faster – and that means video will become increasingly prevalent, says Hayden. “We’re hardwired to look each other in the eyes,” he says. Right now, many people use Skype or FaceTime to wish their kids goodnight when they’re traveling; in the near future, he speculates that “people will accept video calls while they’re walking on the street, or on the subway.” And smart voice recognition software, from Siri to Google’s voice-to-text, means we’ll be writing less and speaking more. Within five years, predicts Hayden, we’ll increasingly “watch video and communicate face-to-face, and we’ll spend less time reading and typing.”
How is your company adapting to the new mobile future?
This post originally appeared on the Forbes website on November 7, 2012.
Dorie Clark is CEO of Clark Strategic Communications and the author of Reinventing You: Define Your Brand, Imagine Your Future (Harvard Business Review Press). She is a strategy consultant who has worked with clients including Google, Yale University, and the Ford Foundation. Listen to her podcasts or follow her on Twitter.