Altimeter: Mobiles are no longer a second screen for engagement

Brands risk losing their relevance with today's connect customer if they treat mobile as a bolt-on to a wider digital strategy, claims the research firm's principal analyst

Brands who position mobile as the second screen of engagement risk losing their relevance with today’s highly connected customer, and could be falling prey to the latest shiny new object.

That’s the view of Altimeter Group principal analyst, Brian Solis, who addressed the need for building mobile-only customer experiences during the firm’s latest industry webinar. The presentation came off the back of research undertaken by Altimeter entitled The Inevitability of a Mobile-Only Customer Experience.

The report found mobile is still being treated as part of the customer experience, rather than a holistic experience in itself. This leads to low budgets and staff allocation, forcing “unnecessary and mismatched cross-channel and/or multiscreen experiences”, Altimeter stated.

Rather than re-imagining the mobile experience to better align with customer expectations, many brands and companies are bolting-on mobile to a digital strategy, missing the opportunity to integrate mobile with physical experiences in one channel, and thereby winning over mobile-savvy customers.

“Mobile-first may not be enough,” Solis said during the webinar.

“You still hear discussions about the smartphone or tablet being the second screen. It is not the second screen – it’s the first screen. It’s where your customers go first to explore, discover, connect and share, and it’s always within arm’s reach.”

Read more: Adopting mobile marketing for the masses

According to Altimeter’s research, one-third of shoppers are using mobile exclusively, and more than half consider mobile the most important resource in purchase decision making process.

But the experience offered to consumers by brands on mobile is often not mobile-centric, it’s simply been adapted for that channel, Solis said.

“In our research, we’re finding brands are not positioned to capitalise on the different nuances, behaviours and expectations of mobile consumers because if you were, you’d start to change,” he claimed.

“There are a wealth of new apps, products and services that are starting to condition and cater to customers in ways that our brands and business aren’t really considering, or see as having as much effect as they do.”

Customers increasingly want more experiences to reside in the mobile environment because it’s a better, more efficient and different engagement process to other digital experiences, Solis said.

“It isn’t about what you think the experience should be, or where you can get resources or budget or tech, it’s what it should be. People are going to do what they want, when they want,” he said.

Historically, brands have tried to encourage customers to return to the desktop for further engagement, rather than do everything on a mobile. Solis pointed to Google data, which shows 90 per cent of consumers have to move between devices to accomplish goals.

“Making me jump to another screen is a fragmented experience,” he said. “If your customer is increasingly mobile, maybe mobile-first is a great step for your brand. But what about simultaneously creating a mobile-only experience?

“Yes it makes it more complicated: Now you have to rethink the customer journey is for a modern era to keep people engaged and delighted. But when you think about mobile being a bolt-on or complement, and just part of the digital journey, what you leave customers with is a compromised experience.

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“As customers, we want to be able to complete a journey [in one channel] and that takes a re-imagination of all of this stuff. What we’re finding is some companies are investing in both mobile-first and mobile-only customer journeys to prevent channel hopping and multi-screening because that increases conversion, delight, Net Promoter Score. And it should.

“Could you imagine if you were playing Angry Birds and you suddenly couldn’t finish the game because you had to swap to you desktop to unlock some functionality?.”

As increasingly diverse mobile screens become available, such as Apple’s iWatch and other wearables, Solis predicted channel hopping would become an even less appealing option for customers.

“As these screens become more capable, channel hopping and multi-screening becomes a death knell moving forward,” he said. “Brands don’t want to fall prey to ‘mediumism’, prioritising shiny objectives and screens over customer needs and goals.

“This leads to being misinformed, reactive investments in cross-channel experiences. Mobile-first is really just another way of saying you’ll look at customers want to do and their experience – how to facilitate outcomes, transactions and engagement throughout the journey in the way customers are already doing things. That’s true customer centricity.”

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