While it's no surprise that mobile devices are playing a larger role in consumers' lives, the growth in the use of smartphone devices has had a transformative impact on the way people interact with brands.
As a result, the dichotomy behind this new relationship promises to reshape our daily lives for many years to come. Since consumers and smartphones are attached at the hip, brands have increasingly turned to these new digital appendages as a key touch point in their dialogue with customers.
The question now becomes: What do brands need to know about mobile consumers heading into 2016?
What are the basics? Expect smartphone devices to continue to influence how consumers search, shop, buy and engage with brands. The decision to purchase is now heavily influenced by content that users generate and others read, primarily through product reviews and social media. As mobile device usage continues to grow, brands will need to continue adapting to the needs of increasingly mobile and well-researched consumers.
Where is mobile growth coming from? Consumers are now spending more time in apps than watching TV, and according to eMarketer, much of the growth in time spent on mobile devices will come from people spending more time within these apps.
In 2015, it was calculated that U.S. smartphone and tablet users spent an average of 3 hours and 5 minutes a day using mobile apps, up from 2 hours and 51 minutes in 2014. Next year it's estimated that mobile device users will spend 3 hours and 15 minutes per day using apps, helping mobile marketing grow to a $100 billion industry.
Are you building trust with your consumer? A recent study revealed that nearly 60 percent of buyers use mobile devices to research their purchases. These mobile consumers are looking for brands they can trust, and smartphone devices can help build this confidence between customers and brands by turning to powerful real-time communications technologies to achieve those goals.
As more consumers run local searches on mobile, advertisers are increasing their spending on mobile ad campaigns, and in 2015 it is expected that brands will have spent $8.3 billion on social media advertising. Brands need to harness this power of mobile and social media, and know that it's one of the most effective ways to directly impact and communicate with consumers. Trust is the most crucial element of social media where content only receives attention if it's authentic. Brands need to develop content that is mobile friendly and designed to teach, entertain and ignite discussion.
Are you investing in the right market? If you combine Android and Apple stores, there are over 2 million apps for consumers to download, so if brands want to survive in a mobile world, they will need to invest in mobile marketing in a huge way. But are they investing in the right market?
From social media advertisements to recognizing the power of mobile SEO, brands should position themselves to appeal to their target audience on mobile devices at any time of the day. These trends are increasingly important to the game industry, as the market for mobile games is also growing at a rapid pace.
In the case of eSports, the growth and accessibility of mobile games is taking the sport to unprecedented levels of popularity, which is attracting the attention of Madison Avenue. The global eSports market is now worth $748 million and will reach $1.9 billion by 2018. With eSports becoming more mainstream and attracting both traditional and new media channels like TBS, ESPN and Amazon, eSports brands must take notice of this growing interest and explore more marketing and advertising efforts to coveted audiences like millennials, on a medium they know well.
Are you utilizing multiple devices? With mobile digital media time in the U.S. now at 51 percent, significantly higher when compared to 42 percent for desktop, the multi-device world has disrupted marketing and forever changed how brands communicate with customers.
According to a recent Pew report, 90 percent of American adults own a mobile phone, 32 percent an e-reader and 42 percent own a tablet computer, so the key to mobile success for brands in the next year is to adopt a multidevice approach as the connection between consumer engagement and the mobile purchasing experience grows. Take the time to understand which channels and formats customers prefer, and then diversify how and where to publish content as a way to extend reach and scale.
Consider all formats that can be applicable to mobile, such as microsites, blogs, social media, webinars and videos.
The bottom line is that mobile traffic is rapidly taking over traditional forms of media, and marketers need to stay ahead of this curve. They can no longer approach mobile advertising as a niche media channel, but must come up with strategies and solutions unique to a growing audience that is still taking shape, and is therefore still very reachable.
This story first appeared in the Feb. 15 issue of Adweek magazine. Click here to subscribe.