Do you hear that collective sigh of relief? That's the sound of thousands of mobile professionals finally being able to tell people that “the year of mobile” is behind us. Mobile certainly had a great year in 2012 as smartphones continued to be consumers’ device of choice and app developers continued to take advantage of time, location, and interactivity. Apple's launch of Passbook was a great example of just how beneficial a mobile wallet can be when you embed it with time and location functionality.
Retailers finally took notice of mobile and began thinking about how it plays a role in building shopper confidence. Consumers are now more than ever turning to their mobile devices as an impartial influencer of their buying decisions, and marketers must guide them through the process with seamless cross-channel and mobile-optimized experiences that are personal and individually engaging.
It's clear that consumers are no longer just shopping with bags in hands -- they are bringing personal shopping assistants in the form of mobile phones to help them feel better about their purchases -- price, product reviews, alternative product selection, warranties and more. Smart marketers understand this shift and therefore leverage mobile as an effective channel to help achieve customer loyalty.
In 2013, mobile will officially become the first screen of influence for many marketers rather than the second or third (sorry, TV -- but while you certainly know how to find a large audience, your days of trendsetting are not what they used to be). This will lead to a much stronger focus from marketers on the overall mobile experience. So how should brands be ready to successfully deploy mobile in the new year? Here are seven trends that mobile marketers must embrace in 2013.
Passbook was just the start; Google Wallet is about to evolve. Google will update the storage functionality of Google Wallet to make it behave more like Apple’s Passbook. Rather than focus solely on the transaction side of the mobile wallet, Google Wallet will become an app where users can manage coupons and loyalty cards, as well as ticket and boarding passes. When this happens, the mobile wallet will be at scale. Marketers need to think about how the mobile wallet will affect the path to purchase and shopping behavior.
Major payment companies like American Express will release square-like apps. The square app is innovating the payment world, which is awesome. But the thing that square lacks is scale and when it comes to payments, scale is really important. Any number of payment companies (such as Amex) would have enough penetration to allow consumers to use the app(s) wherever they go. I'm going with Amex because they have been much better at innovating than the other guys (that I won’t name). Marketers need to think about what happens when it gets much easier to use a phone to buy things offline.
Amazon will launch same-day shipping everywhere. What does this have to do with mobile? Well, think about timing. If I can buy something using Amazon on my phone and have it when I get home from shopping, my phone just became a much more powerful tool for impulse buying.
Mobile payments will become more fragmented. While the square app and LevelUP are cool, they need significant merchant penetration. This begs the question: How many payment apps will consumers use? Point-of-sale systems need to be much more flexible. This area of mobile is going to innovate quickly, so marketers need to make sure point of sale isn’t holding marketing back.
Big data will play a significant role in retail shopping. Yeah -- I’m as sick of the “big data” term as anyone, but I love Safeway’s “just for U” program. It’s a great case study about how to use big data effectively, and it only really scratches the surface of what you can do. Mobile is a great outlet for all this big data because you can target a single personal consumer digitally. Big data will help bring big scale to mobile.
Google will create an Ad ID -- which, along with Apple's IDFA, will be linked to offline purchases and big data. Apple solved the cookie problem, now it's Google's turn. Now that tracking effectiveness via mobile Web is fixed, it's time to start linking offline purchases to online and mobile engagement.
Omnichannel marketing will begin to take shape. TV marketing will be intentional about engaging and transacting through mobile, and there will be landing pages for TV and print ads just like there are online. One result of this will be an even more vocal fight about attribution, although advertising is still receiving most of the marketing spending.
One thing is for sure -- mobile will continue to advance in 2013 at a pace no slower than it did in 2012. It will become more embedded into our daily lives and will become consumers’ primary source for information and social relationships (sorry, baby boomers, it’s true -- I’m sure you see this as the fabric of life eroding). Marketers who use mobile effectively will find that it really does change the game and that it really does allow you to have a direct relationship with all of your customers. Mobile is about to become even more advanced. And I, for one, welcome our new marketing overlord.