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Why Mobile Changes Everything—and Nothing At All

woman-shopping-mobile.jpgMobile changes everything. We all know that’s true, right? Did you also know that mobile really doesn’t change anything at all? I’m serious. Hang in there for a moment, and I’ll explain what this is all about.

Specifically, it all comes down to how your customers use mobile. It’s pretty clear that mobile changes customer behavior pretty radically. Yet, at the same time, mobile doesn’t change customer behavior at all.

Your customers’ new behavior is fairly straightforward. Mobile provides customers access to all the information they need to make an informed purchase, wherever, whenever, and however they want. That’s very new. What’s also new is the speed with which they’ve adopted these behaviors. Responsive design and in-app advertising can help ensure you appear whenever customers go looking for a solution, wherever they happen to be.

What’s not new? Your customers’ desire to shop around. They’ve always been willing to buy from someplace else. But actually doing that was usually too inconvenient; who’s going to drive to 5 different stores to compare prices on low-consideration purchases? Now, they have that ability in the palm of their hands. And they’ll use whatever tool works best at that given moment—apps, web, social, what-have-you —to answer their questions and make their decisions. In studying data from French shoppers, eMarketer “…found consumers were quite prepared to be “opportunistic” if the product they wanted wasn’t available in their local store. At that point the internet played a larger role, as shoppers searched for other physical or online stores able to provide the item.”

In case you’re wondering, it ain’t just happening in France.

Plenty of data supports this. For instance, Mobile Commerce Daily notes some of the lessons learned during the 2014 holiday shopping season:

“Evidence of the increased focus on mobile included more opportunities to search out of stocks and place orders online via a mobile phone while in a bricks-and-mortar store…”

Unfortunately, those same findings show it isn’t all sunshine and rainbows:

“Another important lesson from the 2014 holiday shopping period is the need for consistency across devices… experiences that were available to shoppers while they were at home on their desktop or laptop were unavailable on the devices they carried with them while they were out shopping.”

Facts such as these cause many companies to debate whether they need apps or a mobile website to connect with their customers. As it happens, you probably need a little bit of both. According to eMarketer, mobile apps and sites typically work together. Here’s the key finding:

“…the two actually work together plenty of the time, as mobile apps act as a “portal” to web articles. Fully 52% of smartphone owners said they tapped links in mobile apps that led to articles on mobile websites at least sometimes, with around half of that group doing so often or very often.”

While that doesn’t mean that you need to develop your own app, it does mean you need to think about how customers will find you when using other apps. Again, because for all the changes mobile’s bringing about, your customers still want to find the best answer to their questions and the best solution to solve their problems.

This changing/not changing behavior helps explain why, according to Marketing Charts, 81% of CEO’s “…consider mobile technologies for customer engagement to be strategically important for their organization.” Sounds like it’s time to get started, no?

The bottom-line here is that mobile changes everything by simply helping your customers gain the ability to do what they’ve always done more easily. It’s now the key source for growing your brand and growing your business. Your customers have embraced it. Your CEO’s have embraced it. Now it’s time for you to embrace it.

If you want to learn even more about how customers changing behavior shapes e-commerce and marketing, be sure an register to receive a special report I’ve produced in conjunction with hotel marketing firm Vizergy, “Digital Hotel Marketing in a Multiscreen World.” While it’s targeted specifically at hotel and resort marketers, the lessons apply to just about any business. You can get your free copy of the report here.

You can also check out these slides and video from my recent webinar, “Digital Marketing Directions: Three Key Trends Driving Your Marketing Next Year”:

And, finally, you might want to take a look at some of our past coverage of the e-commerce, mobile commerce, and digital marketing overall, including:

Tim Peter is the founder and president of Tim Peter & Associates. You can learn more about our company's strategy and digital marketing consulting services here or about Tim here.

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