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Multiscreens – It’s All About Context

March 7, 2014 By Jeannette Kocsis
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Who would have imagined even a few years ago we'd be talking about multitasking entertainment and media consumption? Sitting down to watch TV or waiting in line used to be a singular activity. In today's omnichannel world—where consumers access 24/7 content across channels—it seems natural for them to use whatever device is handy to get what they need, or more than one. But are you making the most of this behavior when engaging with your customers and prospects?

Let's look back to learn more about this latest marketing evolution. In the late '90s, company URLs started appearing in television commercials. Today, it is common for most commercials and print ads to contain them, along with social network links. It stands to reason that those same URLs are being accessed on smartphones or tablets. We also engage consumers further into the brand with broad media, digital "out of home" display, SMS, social networks, mobile apps and Web experiences. It seems likely that a consumers could be watching TV at home, with tablets, smartphones and laptops nearby, accessing whichever way is right for them. Even when on the go, more than one device may be coming along for the ride.

Opportunity seems ripe, it's true. But what can you do to make the most of the multiscreen behavior? As with all other marketing approaches, consumer behavior is key. Consider such things as the time of day a message is delivered, what consumers might be doing on their devices at that time and what consequent actions they might take as a result of the experience. By understanding the consumer's channel preferences and 24/7 behaviors, marketers can then develop an effective multiscreen strategy.

Best Practices for Optimizing for Multiscreen
If you incorporate data, context and messaging into your strategies, you can begin to leverage multiple screens as part of a multichannel effort. Here are a few best practices:

  • Focus on the customer. Marketers need to consider the customer's experience on all devices and all the way through the interaction, from start to finish. For instance, don't ask someone to text to a short code to reach a link that drives to an un-optimized landing page. Also, remember that consumers have options and may not download the app you want them to, but may visit a mobile site instead. Planning for mobile experience has to include different pathways, based on both the choice of devices and options to access content within them. A few years ago, our advice might have been to limit the amount of content in mobile experiences. But, as more people use their smartphones and tablets as their primary Internet access, we need to give people as little or as much as they need. Remember the consumer's context; they could be just killing time in the car dealer's waiting room, waiting for a soccer game to start. Or they could be standing in line in your store looking for a coupon.
  • Look at the big picture. The opportunity today is to engage a customer beyond a short burst of activity. Those small brand moments may occur whether you asked for them or not. Giving your customers a reason to engage is a different strategy. When a consumer is watching TV, a simple—yet effective—way of doing this might be an SMS call-out to get a link to download an app. Think of the reasons people engage with the brand and the mobile aspects of those reasons and then incorporate these into marketing across all channels, including TV, print, outdoor and digital mediums. Mobile devices are carried with consumers and the opportunity goes along, too. So think about what your customers might be doing when they are thinking about your brand, and get creative with your message.
  • Extend the impact. It's a well-known fact that when we increase the number of channels and touches, we have the opportunity to increase results. With mobile, it's about integration, and remembering the mobile experience for the customer. Getting a customer to download an app is an opportunity to message the customer long after the initial purpose has ended. Getting an opt-in for SMS can be a longer-term communication strategy, rather than a single vote or entry to win. Mobile-optimized emails results in customers who are more likely to open messages while on their devices and read them, rather than touching the delete button. And websites that are mobile-optimized are easier for customers to use and purchase from.
  • Use personalization. Mobile applications are—by far—one of the best elements of mobile marketing. Their ability to recognize a customer by leveraging back-end systems, and bringing the customer's brand experience to their device does what few other brand experiences can do. It becomes 1-to-1 for the customer, on the device that means the most to them. Mobile sites, SMS and email can all be personalized. But the app brings it to life—especially an app that is relevant to what the consumer needs at the right time. For example, the United Airlines mobile app provides one of the best app experiences by leveraging real-time information and providing personal updates—often before the gate agent receives them.

Learn to think like consumers, anticipate their needs and behavior, consider them in context, customize messaging and extend efforts beyond the initial push of content to deliver a rewarding customer experience across screens.


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