Mobile First: Creating Vivid Content Experiences
It's no longer acceptable to just transmit static, one-way messages. And that applies to all marketing communications, not just mobile. It's up to us, as marketers, to create content experiences across all media that appeal to the emotional, as well as the analytical, parts of our audience's brains.
Emotions are key drivers in decision-making. Our emotional unconscious influences what products and services we buy and our loyalty to brands, people and companies. All of that activity takes place in the limbic brain—our emotional center. Interestingly, it's a part of the brain with no capacity for language. It's our cortical brain that's responsible for rational, analytical thought. That's where we combine information from friends and experts with facts and figures to produce the data sets that allow us to rationalize our "gut" feelings.
Mobile as the Catalyst
Mobile technologies offer much more capacity to create the kind of interactive, sensory experiences that evoke emotion, leading to short-term purchases and long-term loyalty.
Let's face it, people already have an emotional attachment to their mobile devices. Our smartphones are our cameras, music players, answering machines, Web browsers, gaming platforms, social networking tools and personal assistants. They're our universal remote for everything from controlling a home theater to adjusting the thermostat. They're a portable credit card for making purchases and a health monitor for tracking fitness levels and vital signs. They're always with us, allowing us to reach out to each other, document our lives, share our world and our opinions.
With all the amazing technology either embedded into mobile devices or developable as apps, marketers shouldn't have any trouble finding ways to arouse emotional responses that surprise and delight audiences. However, many marketers are still trying to shoehorn existing content into this new media.
Just look at Forrester Research's recently released "State of Mobile Technology For Marketers." It reveals that while marketers are embracing the "shiny object," which is mobile, their use of mobile tactics and technologies isn't aligned with how customers are actually using their smartphones.
Thomas Husson, Forrester analyst and the study's author, says it's time for marketers to start asking questions about how their core audience is using mobile, the value that mobile is adding throughout the customer lifecycle, the experience they want to transform, and the marketing objectives they have.
Getting It Right
As marketers, our goal should be to pinpoint the sweet spot where customer behavior intersects with marketing objectives. Instead of delivering a static, one-way conversation, we need to create emotion-evoking experiences that are meaningful to customers and create real value that differentiates our message and our brand.
And as we develop and measure mobile experiences, we need to move beyond clickthrough and coupon redemption to increasing loyalty, shares and referrals. For us, that means creating emotion-triggering experiences that make audiences want to share it with others. To inspire them to help us spread our messages, the experience must be meaningful to them and add value at that precise moment. It also needs to feel natural, not forced. Most of all, it needs to offer an immediate sensory or psychological reward.
Providing that instant gratification created instant success for one of our clients exhibiting at the Direct Marketing Association conference. If you were there, you couldn't have missed the Darwill booth. The Hillside, Ill.-based printer specializes in very targeted, data-driven communications. Looking to make a splash at the show, it had already hired an amazing magician to perform in the booth.
Our challenge was to produce immersive, content experiences that would keep attendees coming back. With the help of the magician and some green screen magic, we developed four augmented reality experiences accessible from printed cards. Each communicated the Darwill value proposition through surprise, reveals and the possibility of winning a prize. The cards had the added benefit of providing a sharable takeaway that served as a reminder of Darwill and the magic experienced in the booth.
It's Going to Get More 'Real'
As mobile device manufacturers integrate more sensor technologies like gyroscopes, accelerometers and magnetometers, the experiences will get much more immersive—and more real.
In my previous column, I talked about how 3D environments and technologies like Google Project Tango are changing the shopping and buying experience. We're also seeing more brands experimenting with proximity-based or beacon technology, like iBeacon, at stores and sports venues. Look for more as personalized marketing and relevant, real-time messaging are leading the mobile revolution in retail.
In future columns, I'll also be talking about Oculus Rift and how marketers are beginning to use virtual reality technology to create fully immersive sensory experiences. With its purchase by Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg imagines sharing not just moments with your friends online, but entire experiences and adventures. I'm eager to see how virtual reality evolves into a communications and social media sharing platform.