These days, it seems the minute you buy a smart-phone (SP) it is obsolete. In all my years in consumer electronics retailing, I've never seen a shorter product life cycle. What's driving the craze and what does all this mean to online marketing?
The craze is being driven by several factors. First, 3G penetration (wireless speed) is a big driver just as high speed internet service to your home and workplace drove internet use. It is predicted that 3G+ penetration, which was about 38% at the end of 2009, will be at 74% by 2014. Second, new SP apps are being launched daily. It's reported there are about 60,000 iPhone apps and some 25,000 or so Android apps on the market, although many are not appealing to the masses. Combine this with a more mobile society, and the end result is a new SP every week – or so it seems. Percent of SP's to total phones is expected to increase from 14% last year to over 38% by 2013.
Here's an interesting prediction…some predict that by 2013 our society will be accessing the internet more frequently from a SP than from your desktop/laptop. Could it be the SP will replace the desktop/laptop? I doubt it, but the introduction of the iPad makes one wonder where all this going and how it will effect online marketing and communicating with customers.
The social media trends are interesting to note as well. 33% of those using Twitter primarily send their tweets via SP. Regarding Facebook, 66% of SP owners accessing the social site do so to read news feeds, 60% to update their statuses, 59% to process their Facebook messages and 44% to upload photos.
Even the most security-conscious activities, like banking, are beginning to emerge via SP technology. Scanning checks and depositing them, checking your bank balance, paying bills, and of course, buying something using your credit card are all SP activities that are taking place at an ever-increasing pace. Several forecasts predict that by 2015, 50% or more of US SP users will be conducting banking transactions from their SP's.
Marketers, particularly those in the local B2C space, need to pay attention to all this. Earlier this year, it was reported that one out of three SP users has been led to a local business after finding it through a local mobile search. Additionally, more and more people are becoming open to receiving text alerts. A survey earlier this year reported that 28% of mobile users were at least somewhat interested in receiving text alerts, up only slightly from a year earlier. But, those in the “under-35” crowd expressed significantly more interest. See chart to left. Regarding text alerts, people who had signed up to receive them said it made them more likely to visit the company's website (34%), visit the store or location (33%) and purchase a product online or in the store (about 28%).
Considering the aforementioned trends associated with SP penetration (nearly tripling in the next 3 years) and devices from which the internet is being accessed (majority accessing via SP in 3 years), local marketers in the B2C space need to consider how all this will influence their future marketing activities and investments.
Do I need a .mobi website – that is, a separate website that is optimized for mobile use? Mobi websites aren't recommended for most businesses at this point in time for two reasons. First, unless you are a major ecommerce or social media site, the investment in a .mobi site most likely won't generate near the return necessary. Second, the iPhone and Android operating systems are becoming more sophisticated and capable of displaying websites in their desired form. Instead of a .mobi website, here are a few recommendations for local B2C marketers:
- Test your website on different SP operating systems (iPhone, Android, etc.) to see how they display and if contact and location information can be found easily.
- Make sure your phone number, location information, map location and other essential items are easily found and well displayed.
- If you have a Specials page in your website or some other way you typically display special promotions, sales, etc., look at those pages on the different SP operating systems. If the information doesn't display well, consider re-designing that information using larger fonts in your text and links, and ensure navigation to this information is easy and intuitive.
- Consider text marketing – getting your customers to sign up for text alerts. If you do this, be very cautious about frequency and limit your text alerts to things of great value to your customers – otherwise your “unsubscribe” rate might explode.
It is difficult to predict where all this will take us, but SP's are a huge trend to which marketers need to pay attention..