Advancements in mobile are rapid and we have moved from using the phones initially for voice and text communication to now a more data and app based economy where the movement of everything from messages and media to money are utilizing that as a communication channel and access point. Mobile has become a channel of consumption via multiple devices from the phone to wearables to now your appliances and automobiles.
Mobile App Maturity
If we rewind years ago, we can reflect on the day when the app stores were controlled by each mobile operator and then the smartphones were introduced and the development of apps exploded. Today, about half of the mobile phones in the world are smartphones. While the consumers are spending more time on their mobile devices than ever, they have only used an average of 27 apps per month according to Nielsen, while the number of overall mobile apps continues to skyrocket around the globe. We utilize the experiences and service of apps in multiple forms and locations today from our accessories to appliances and now automobiles. For many, the central point of control and access still reconnects back to your mobile phone.
Mobile serves not only as a channel of communication and commerce but also a wealth of information.
Do you realize how much personal information you are sharing? From the point of internet and data connection to your identity in your phone number, in your location, your browsing history, shopping and transactions and more is all being utilized for advertising and advancements in the services you experience as a consumer. This information is part of the economics of mobile apps and services being free as a channel and you opt into this upon setting up your device and downloading most apps.
Messaging in the Moment
Real time engagement and actions have advanced along with mobile and the more connected consumers we have around the world today. It is not only the Millennials and Gen Z who are using Snapchat, WeChat and the many others, but also the more experienced generations who have simply adopted a communication channel that simply exploded around the world. To many this is the replacement of SMS, while to others it is so much more, integrating it into experiences, memories and moments that they want to publicize and promote within their circle as well as more broadly to the general public.
Bots will not replace all apps
Yes, there are many apps out there that are nothing more than a digital brochure, resource for Q&A or a re-designed website. If that was your app – it can easily be replaced by bots and a messaging service for mobile communication. However if the mobile app is built correctly, it includes personalization, preferences and desired engagement channels to align with the consumer’s interests. Whether they want to be sent an SMS every time there is a comment on something, or they prefer a push notification or in app alert – all of these options are part of the app design and development. Would they like to create a user profile from their email and phone number or simply their social ID on Facebook or Google? The understanding of my mobile device, from the screen size to the operating system, language and purchase history is a lot more than a bot can learn and understand initially. The apps have advanced to the level where you can download offline versions for many when you are the global traveler and not always using a data connection. While the integration via the APIs for the commerce channels with the messenger for communication such as Facebook or WeChat is available, many mobile apps are just starting to explore the opportunity.
Moving from mobile first to AI first world
The advancements in mobile via messaging, commerce and consumption will continue to accelerate. According to a report from Digitas LBi, more than 1/3 of American consumers are willing to make a purchase through a chatbot. Customer care is where many feel that the greatest advancements will come as the nature of the communication is very scripted and automated and or regulated in some cases. That proposes a variety of questions – will this be another point of regulation from the governments like we experienced with the explosion of SMS? How will this impact the workforce? Are the customers ready to speak with an automated resource – or will they even know the difference?
Clearly customers are quick to remember and make decisions based on their experiences. This was true across a variety of areas in mobile marketing- from SMS to apps and now the bots. Will the first impression be a positive or negative one to associate with your brand or business? Is that worth the investment on the technology, marketing and communications to educate and train your staff and operations on this new channel of engagement? The logic lies in knowing your customers and their preferences for communication. These will vary significantly across global generations and regions as they continue to evolve.