Mobile phones have become an inseparable part of our lives today. According to a ComScore report, mobile has grown to be the leading digital platform, with total activity on smartphones and tablets accounting for 62% of digital media time spent. The trends that will further drive the mobile industry ahead include personalized consumer engagement, more advanced and niche targeting methods, and enhanced ad products.
Given the imminent importance of mobiles, businesses and marketers are building comprehensive mobile strategies in order to capitalize on the growth of mobile as a leading digital platform. Content, creativity, and the choice of media channel are broadly the three aspects that will influence the success of mobile initiatives in 2016. The key mobile trends to expect this year, are as follows:
Personalization on mobile has grown over the last few years. The tech-savvy consumer today, expects brands to interact and engage with him/her in a personalized and contextual manner that delivers actual value as against pushing mere promotional messages. Keeping this in mind, marketers are now striving to learn more about their target audience – who they are, what they like, and how they want to engage with ads and brands.
According to a study by ITProPortal, over 67% of consumers wanted messages and deals personalized to their preferences. This makes personalization a crucial aspect of any mobile initiative. Thus, brands are constantly scouring for new technologies and channels that enable them to connect to customers in a personalized manner and build strong relationships.
iBeacon technology has become an invaluable tool for brands to connect to their consumers at the right time, by offering the most contextual and personalized content. Beacons gather insightful metrics like footfall data, engagement rate, dwell time among many others, that help brands tailor content for their consumers and make sound data driven decisions for their business.
In a great example of personalization, leading retail brand Target, recently leveraged beacons to deliver custom offers, product recommendations, and in-store mapping assistance based on a customer’s location. “Target Run,” for instance, is an interesting feature that displays a feed of announcements, product recommendations and coupons depending on the customer’s location in the store.
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Traditionally, efforts to personalize consumer experience were reserved for big brands with large marketing budgets. However, in recent times, small and medium businesses are also investing into it, largely due to the growing number of vendors that deliver solutions to create a tailored experience for consumers.
2. Social Media Buy Buttons
Nielsen reports that users spend around 85% of their time on social apps. Advanced social media tools are used today, to find new ways to enhance interaction between brands and fans. For instance, popular social media platforms, such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest, launched the “Buy Button” last year enabling users to shop without having to leave the respective social platform.
Brands are expected to take an integrated approach towards reaching the customer online and very soon the boundaries between e-commerce, social media and apps will become seamless. According to MultiChannel Merchant, 40.7% of digital retailers in the US used social buy buttons, as of August 2015, and this trend is only expected to grow in 2016. Another trend is that, retailers might increase their budgets for paid ads in social media. In addition, TV budgets might also flow towards social.
3. Mobile Video
Video as a media format has been gaining significant traction over the past year. Social media heavyweights like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram are all experimenting with various video formats to engage users. Facebook has opened up its in-feed, auto-play video spots to apps within its audience network, so that users who have logged into Facebook can see those ads in other apps as well.
In an interesting Twitter campaign, McDonald’s announced its all-day breakfast menu using a variety of creative and eye-catching GIFs in tweets, which were hugely popular among fans.
Going ahead, all brands will invest significantly towards producing more bespoke videos for different channels across all screens. Another trend that is poised to break ground in the video space is vertical videos (360-degree and spherical). Big players like Audi, AT&T, and NBC are already testing the waters for vertical videos and have observed an 80% increase in ad completion.
2016 will also witness the introduction of more virtual reality (VR) videos that will be accessible via Google Cardboard on mobile as well as VR headsets.
4. Mobile Payments
With backing from tech giants like Apple, Samsung, and Google, mobile payments are expected to explode this year. According to eMarketer, in its proximity mobile payments report, the total value of mobile payment transactions in the US will grow by 210% in 2016. Some of the other key drivers for this growth are the growing consumer adoption, increasing consumer confidence in m-commerce, and the launch of social media “buy buttons”
Some of the best coupons, deals, discounts, and loyalty-point schemes of 2016 will be integrated with mobile wallets as marketers explore this channel to engage customers and close deals.
For instance, Starbucks, one of the first movers in the mobile payments space, has a mobile app that enables buyers to order and pay for beverages via their phone, and skip the line. The app adds loyalty points for every transaction made on the user’s device and also integrates discounts and coupons. With over 9 million transactions a day, this move has already proved to be highly successful. Mobile transactions now account for 20 percent of in-store sales, which is more than twice the mobile transaction sales figures from two years ago.
Among the technologies that offer efficient payment solutions, iBeacon and NFC are two of the most popular ones. However, beacons are more powerful than NFC at delivering a richer consumer experience. For example, a beacon wallet app can be teamed together with a merchant’s store app to push personalized offers and loyalty programs to customers.
Mobile has become a core strategic component for all enterprises today and is proving to be an important engagement tool for building and strengthening consumer relationships. Hence, brands should expect consumers to become more empowered and, hence, seek instant gratification, whether through precise content or purchases. Brands will now have to change their marketing approach from merely selling to providing an enhanced, personalized, and holistic consumer experience.
Other new technologies like wearables and virtual assistants like Google Now, Cortana, Siri, and Facebook M are also expected to integrate with mobile phones. These developments surely signal towards an exciting year for mobiles in 2016. What are your thoughts on it? Share your ideas in the comments section below!