Wednesday 21 July 2010

Mobile needs to have had it's day in the sun...

How do people use their mobiles these days?

Young consumers see mobiles as an extension of self.  It's the one thing that they keep with them more than anything else.  They use it to check Facebook first thing in the morning, personalise it with ringtones (although maybe not ringback tones) and even use it to record and share a video of their latest "happy-slapping" shenanigans.

I turned a bit Daily Mail there didn't I?  Sorry.  

Flippancy aside, the young get mobile.  They're familiar with them and they use them.

So what about the not-so-young?  Well, I'm 32 now and it's safe to say that my peers are a mixed bunch - some, like me, carry a smartphone and use it as it should be; accessing the mobile internet and using apps and exploiting features such and the camera, social-network integration and bundled services.  Others are less 'sophisticated' (I use that term guardedly) - they may have a smartphone, but they use it for voice and SMS, maybe sending/receiving the odd picture message.  Others carry two devices, work and home, using the work phone (e.g. a Blackberry) for email and browsing.  

And what about the old?  If the have a phone they tend to use it for calling and maybe a little bit of texting.  My dad has an old Nokia, which still has a battery life of 2 weeks and which he won't change because he keeps the SMS and MMS that I sent him when my kids were born.

So what is the point of this gross-oversimplification of the young (mobile-savvy), not-so-young (mixed-bag) and old (mobile-luddites)?

Well initially, it leads on the question: how do marketers perceive consumers use of mobile?  From there it also leads to my (bordering on scandalous) title for this post.  But that will be explained in good time...

Mobile is generally still perceived as niche.  Yes, it is moving more and more into the mainstream - but a glance at the budgets highlight the disparity between mobile and digital, press, TV etc. etc.  Mobile is all too often still a tick-box exercise, with a small proportion of the budged hived off to be allocated to a mobile mechanic.  Often, for this to be a remora of a mechanic, clinging on to the shark that is the primary activity; or worse still, a token app!  

To compound this, even those in the digital world still don't understand mobile - just yesterday morning I had a conversation with a chap in the email marketing game who also offers mobile (paraphrased below - Alan Bennett I am not):

Me: We recently ran an MMS campaign, driving to an online destination, that outperformed email (shameless one-upmanship and plug all in one)
Chap: Really?  We're sending an SMS push for *client*.  It will push consumers onto a website. 
Me: Really?  What if the consumers accesses the link from their phone and not their computer.
Chap: Oh, we'll deal with that.
Me: Really?  How.
Chap: Our man will make sure that it is optimised.

Now, I may be doing chap and his man a disservice, but the likes of Wapple, Volantis, MIG (Kilrush) and Netbiscuits have not spent decades of development man days and a shed-load of money on solutions that can be knocked up by his man in a week.  Sure, if you were sending an email, it would be a (fairly) reasonable assumption that the user would have a device capable of rendering a microsite acceptably (I'll put aside the fact that I believe "acceptable" is simply not acceptable, and a more holistic/ cohesive/ complimentary approach, let's call it dCRM, needs to be taken to the email and mobile CRM, for now as that's another blog post entirely).  

But they are not sending an email, they are sending an SMS.  

Without knowledge of what device they are sending to.

So if the user does click through it'll most likely be a poor experience.

And as such, undermine the brand's message.

But what do I know?

So, why do I wish that mobile had had it's day in the sun?

Well, by definition, this would mean that it had become mainstream.  It would mean that all the fuss and fan-fare had passed and mobile was considered an integral channel within a brand's marketing efforts.  It would mean that brands and agencies alike "got" mobile, understanding both how consumers use it and what you can do with it; recognising it as the most personal and effective of channels - not just in it's own right, but in conjunction with all other channels. 

It would mean that marketers delivered the right message, to the right person, over the right channel and in the right way.

Or at least that they should...

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