Twenty years ago if someone had told retailers that ½ of internet traffic streams from mobile devices or that 40% of Black Friday sales would come from smartphones, they likely would have scoffed. A brand-consumer relationship based around mobile devices seemed far-fetched at best. But in 2017 mobile accessibility is dictating consumer behaviors.
Consumer depend on their smartphones to fulfill all of their daily needs and activities; they communicate with colleagues, track their daily steps and caloric intakes, and even vet dating prospects by simply swiping across their smartphone screens. Life in 2017 revolves around mobile technology, and it is most likely that this mass dependence will only grow as emerging technology, such as VR, becomes even more sophisticated and integrated. While these advancements have created massive opportunities for brands to increase customer touch points and forge deeper consumer connections, they’ve also created challenges.
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Although brands have more ways than ever before to reach consumers, the window to sell them is shrinking. In fact, 55% of all consumers will spend 15 seconds or less on a website before leaving. 15 seconds is just enough time to survey the homepage; essentially if mobile users are not served exactly the type of content they’re after, they’re more likely to leave a site than go sleuthing. Smartphones have ushered in an age of immediacy. Any piece of information is at the tip of our fingertips; in a matter of mere seconds we can find directions, make a mobile payment, publish a picture, or educate ourselves about new products. As mobile devices have evolved in efficiency and sophistication, consumer attention spans have dropped and expectations have risen. If brands cannot deliver answers or experiences on a timeline that works with users, they risk obsoletion.
In addition to maintaining a fast, mobile-optimized web site, brands also need to rethink customer service to support the new immediacy standards. Customers today don’t want to find a buried contact page on a brand website, fill out a lengthy form, and wait 1-2 business days for a response. When they have individualized questions, they want answers immediately. Luckily, brands have social media platforms to help them meet these demands. More companies are transforming their approaches to customer service to be social-first. When customers have questions they can tweet, comment, or DM, and brands should expect to deliver results within a timely fashion. In fact, 84% of customers expect a response within 24 hours after they’ve posed a question on a social media network.
Today’s consumers spend five hours each day looking at their mobile screens. Consumers seamlessly switch back and forth between devices, applications, and websites without skipping a beat. As a result, they are bombarded with content all day long. From ads on the SERP to brands’ organic Facebook posts and sponsored influencer Instagram photos, consumers cannot escape brands. They are bombarded with branded content all day long. As a result, of this incessant barrage, they are more adept at ignoring or immediately scrolling through content that is irrelevant or inauthentic.
For brands to actually cut through all of the digital noise and connect with individual consumers, they have to deliver content experiences that do more than simply sell products, but add value to the viewer’s life. In fact, audiences view 60% of brand-produced content as clutter. The type of content must be relevant to audiences and successfully either educate or entertain. Sharing community stories is one way to make an audience stop and listen, because highlighting real-life customers puts a human face on a brand. Humans are more likely to listen to and trust other humans; the more brands can highlight the real people and stories surrounding a product the more incline audiences will be to listen.
Technology has changed the relationship between brand and consumer. Mobile devices and social platforms have dismantled the boundaries that once existed. Today consumers have access to companies at all times. And while this means that brands, too, have more opportunities to connect with consumers, in many ways this heightened accessibility is forcing brands to work harder. As consumer spend more time on their mobile devices and are exposed to more content, their expectations will continue to rise. Brands have to think beyond the basics of clever email subject lines and perfect social media photo ops and focus instead on delivering authentic experiences that connect to customers in real time.