Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Telling the Brand Story with Mobile Applications and Code Halos

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"48% of eBay’s transactions globally are now touched by mobile at some point in the transaction." ~ Jonathan Gabbai, Head of International Mobile at eBay
The pace of change in retail today is crazy!  Consumer behaviors are changing as fast as new mobile applications are being released.  I don't envy the role of the IT strategy team or the marketing team in a retail operation today.  The shopping experience is changing monthly.  The way consumers research products and pricing is changing.  Customer expectations are increasing, and customer loyalty is a fleeting goal.  On top of all this, we (the consumer) are quickly finding ways to ignore mobile advertisements.

Juniper Research predicts smartphone and tablet users will make 195 billion mobile commerce transactions by 2019, up from 72 billion in 2014.  That massive increase, represents fewer visits to expensive big box stores for most customers. This trend will most definitely impact retailers' strategies and business models.

In our house, most of our Christmas shopping is completed online! Our dogs (Molli and Nelli) no longer even bark when the delivery man arrives as he is like family now. They only get off their beds long enough to eat the dog biscuits he brings.

Dr. Windsor Holden of Juniper Research predicts a huge jump in the number of transactions made on smartphones and tablets this holiday season alone. “Last year, about 18% of all e-transactions in the U.S. were on mobile phones and tablets. I expect to see a very, very sharp increase … around 30% to 35% of all e-commerce transactions,” he said.

With fewer opportunities to impress customers in their stores, retailers will need to impress through their mobile applications, user experiences and digital storytelling capabilities.   This will elevate the role of mobile application developers as the app is the brand.  This is reminiscent of the transformation in marketing where spending on traditional media moved to online and mobile. The sea-change is upon us.

A recent survey titled B2X Customer Care  (see  attached image) found participants in all countries would rather give up their TVs before their phones. Why?  The phone and tablet are becoming our TVs of choice.  Another data point that shows us how smartphones and tablets are changing our behaviors.

Given the increasing importance of mobile devices, marketers need to quickly understand how to tell their brand and product stories via mobile devices.  The good news is these mobile devices today have incredible story telling abilities.  Donald Miller, the author of multiple New York Times bestsellers (and 212,000 Twitter followers), has recently founded a new consulting firm called StoryBrand  whose purpose is to teach businesses how to combine storytelling skills and processes with emerging technologies.  Let's think about the storytelling tools available on an average smartphone:
  1. Customized and hyper-personalized mobile applications that know you and your preferences.
  2. Embedded video and music to add dramatic flair, coolness and romance.
  3. Mobile apps and embedded sensors to understand your health and physical activity level.
  4. Interactive mobile apps that answer questions, provide advice and help you solve problems.
  5. Maps and turn-by-turn navigation to lead you to the nearest stores with your brand and style preferences.
  6. Mobile apps that know your location and history of activities at particular locations.
  7. Mobile payment systems and retail apps that know your transaction histories and buying habits.
  8. Mobile apps like Starbucks that know the location of stores you most frequent, your travel history, favorite drinks, volume of drinks, if you order multiple or single drinks (they know if you often order as a single, couple or family), where you likely work (location where you order during business hours).
  9. Mobile apps combined with MNO (Mobile Network Operator) data and big data analytics can quickly understand the demographics of where you live, travel and work - your patterns of life.  They can quickly make assumptions of your age, income, educational level, preferences and family size and season of life.
These technologies and the data collected (Code Halos), once analyzed, are golden in the hands of a digital storyteller.  Businesses now need to tell a better digital story, while making the technology disappear into the background.

For more information on Donald Miller's StoryBrand workshops visit http://storybrand.com/.

Kevin Benedict
Writer, Speaker, Senior Analyst
Digital Transformation, EBA, Center for the Future of Work Cognizant
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***Full Disclosure: These are my personal opinions. No company is silly enough to claim them. I am a mobility and digital transformation analyst, consultant and writer. I work with and have worked with many of the companies mentioned in my articles.