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How your customers REALLY use their mobile devices

Recent reports have shed light on the way that consumers use their mobile devices, and some of the findings complicate conventional ideas about what going “mobile” really means. By extension, it pushes marketers using mobile marketing tactics to reconsider what it really takes to reach customers via mobile devices.

Here are some surprising insights into on where, when and how consumers are using their devices.

  • Mobile devices account for 20% of customer use of home broadband networks, an 11% increase from last year. (Sandvine)
  • 25% of all audio and video used on mobile devices is watched or listened to at home. (Sandvine)
  • 68% of mobile device usage happens at home. (Sandvine)
  • 40% of searches happen while users are watching TV. (iAcquire)

These numbers all point to the fact that while we often think of tablets and smartphones as on-the-go devices, customers frequently engage at home. This fact also underscores the very personal quality of mobile device usage. More than half of the time, customers are using these devices in the privacy of their own homes: they are allowing marketers to reach them in their pockets while relaxing in front of the TV, eating their meals, doing their chores, etc.

Mobile users want to engage

This also reminds me of William James’ “Model of Awareness,” which states that people’s level of attention falls along a spectrum ranging from “normal” (when our attention is focused on a single task) to “divided” (when we are superficially engaging with multiple stimuli). It’s easy to think of consumers sitting on couches, chatting with a family member or roommate while watching a sitcom, and their phone buzzing with an email from a brand. Marketers are thinking, 'We don’t know what kind of attention we’ll be able to draw from them, and we have to grab and hold their attention in order to get them to act.'

Consider these additional revelations from Smart Insights:

  • 40% of web searchers will switch to another search result if a site isn’t optimized for mobile.
  • At least half of mobile consumers will select different brands because of a poor mobile experience.
  • Slow load time can scare a customer away for up to five months.

These findings give more weight to an argument we’ve been making for a long time: given today’s customer behaviors, brands must offer a seamless mobile experience online to stay competitive.

The problem here goes beyond the principle that, of course, we want all customers to have positive experiences with a brand. The fact is that mobile customers are among the most engaged: 70% of mobile searches lead to action on a website within an hour, with 40% of users searching on tablets and 60% doing so on phones, according to iAcquire. These numbers suggest that mobile users are highly motivated and deliberate in their searches — these are the types of customers marketers want to reach. And a brand can only reach them if its website is optimized for mobile.

Even if the content is highly relational and demonstrates respect for customers’ personal space, if a site isn’t optimized for mobile, the brand could be leaving money on customers’ coffee tables.

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