Thanks to mobile, our online world is becoming sliced more and more thinly into intent-driven moments of time that make up our vast internet consumption behaviour. Jonathan Alferness, Vice President of Product Management at Google, explores what brands should be doing now to understand and cater to consumers in this new environment, and what developments in the mobile space we can expect in the years to come.

July 2015

Consumer behaviour has changed forever. Today’s battle for hearts, minds and dollars is won (or lost) in intent-driven moments of decision-making and preference-shaping that occur throughout the entire consumer journey.

For each moment you want to win, put yourself in the consumer’s shoes and ask, “What would make this easier or faster? What content or features would be most helpful for this moment?”

Marketers should provide messages and calls to action that are direct and frictionless. Make it easy for users to continue where they left off – apps are great at maintaining state and working when connectivity is challenging. Above all, just don’t get in the way of what users want to do.

It’s still very early days in terms of mobile marketing. There are two examples of how brands are making the most of the mobile opportunity. One is the phenomenal rise and success of app-install marketing. This isn’t just about getting users to download your app, but really the beginning of a loyal relationship that brands are building with their users. Apps are sticky, and those brands doing this best are harnessing significant lifetime value from the users they acquire.

Another example is true brand advertising that takes advantage of the unique mobile characteristics of devices, as well as their personal nature. Think back to examples of mobile advertising that have won awards in Cannes in the past – these are the type of intimate, magical experiences that are really only possible on mobile.

Integrating analytics across all devices and contexts around a single view of the user isn’t easy, but it’s imperative to build a clear understanding of user behaviour with regard to your goal. Then, you must do something with the data.

In the next 12 months we’ll see a big impact from new identity solutions combined with integrated payment solutions that will enable fast, easy and efficient mobile commerce in a way that’s long been impossible. The trend will be towards users transacting and buying more on mobile devices, leading to a marketing shift away from basic user acquisition to deeper conversion events like purchases.

In the next five years, the rise of digital assistants will transform marketing way beyond anything we’ve seen. Personal preferences for brands, cost-versus-quality tradeoffs and so on will drive users to specific providers as their assistant completes tasks on their behalf. But other brands and merchants will also be able to market to the users and assistants, offering promotions and explaining the rationale of why their service or brand is better. Talk about marketing at the precise moment that matters!

So that’s what the future holds; what can brands do right now? Think about your experiences on mobile. Are they beautiful, magical and frictionless? If not, how can you push more in that direction? Analytics is the very cornerstone of this. Make sure you have an analytics solution that integrates all of your experiences across all devices. If this means understanding your user through log-in, consider doing that now.

With the vast array of options that users have for merchants, services and providers, we must all work incredibly hard to provide users with solutions that work seamlessly, frictionlessly and require as little effort as possible. This likely means a big pivot in many businesses’ strategies. While it may seem daunting, users will simply not deal with the headache to get to their favourite brands. Instead, they will find an alternative. We must all adapt, or face extinction.