Everyone's a smartphone addict. Think about your daily wake-up ritual: the first thing you reach out to is no longer your partner or the lamp – it’s your phone. And it’s likely the last thing you interact with before going to sleep.
It occupies your time on the bus or train, and it's your multi-tasking sidekick while watching Netflix or grabbing dinner. Admit it, it even accompanies you into the bathroom.
It never leaves your side, right? Lose it, and you'll experience a few moments of panic thinking about where you last left – or left it behind.
Today, smartphones are everyone's connection to just about everything– knowledge, entertainment, learning, shopping, working, staying connected with family and friends, and more mundane activities like banking and paying bills.
And even though it's an electronic device, the smartphone is also one of the most intimate, personal things any individual owns.
In fact, it’s completely changed the dynamics and expectations of the consumer experience. We’ve come to expect and demand more from our phones, from the apps and how it correlates and translates into the physical world.
Today’s savvy marketers MUST be attuned to this paradigm shift to successfully connect and engage with consumers. When marketers and brands consider any marketing strategy or campaign, they should keep that intimate, always-on, smartphone-to-person relationship in mind, because it is the single most important dynamic that defines marketing today – and will continue to redefine marketing in the decade to come.
Welcome to "Marketing in the Age of Me."
My Amazon. My Spotify. My Mobile World.
Think about it. Amazon makes shopping ridiculously simple for everyone, and Spotify makes music instantly available to music lovers of any genre.
But when Amazon and Spotify shift to the mobile environment, everything becomes pre-packaged for me. It’s my Amazon and it’s my Spotify. My apps are geo-located and always real time. Content is optimized for me - my name, my preferences, my payment information.
The digital environment makes everything accessible, while the mobile environment makes it personal and about me. When I, the consumer, drive the experience, and when everything is personalized for me, I control the mobile interaction - not the other way around.
And because of that, marketing also has to be personal – not just personalized, but personal, and it has to be framed within "The Age of Me."
It comes back to the questions that marketers should always ask when developing a strategy for their customers. What are they doing? How are they behaving? What social expectations and trends should marketers heed and embrace before they launch a new campaign or initiative?
In the "Age of Me," the only viable answer is: market to each person, individually, one at a time on their smartphones, because that's where they are and that's what they're doing.
The Mobile Channel: Gateway to the Brand
Depending on the data source, upwards of 85%-90% of consumers use and check their smartphones while shopping in stores. Perhaps not to buy, but simply to check or compare prices, look for coupons, read reviews, or search for similar products.
The mobile device might not be directly involved in a brand-to-customer transaction, but it most definitely is driving interaction and a possible transaction. Regardless of what sparked a consumer's interest, the mobile channel is the sole channel that touches on the entire consumer-to-brand interaction.
To make everyday experiences relevant and worthy of action in "the Age of Me," marketers must use the data they're collecting – from the mobile environment, email interactions, online and mobile web, call-center, loyalty programs and other sources – and tie it all together to make their marketing communications about "me." And mobile data takes precedence, because it's the gateway to most other channels, and it's the first, most impressionable channel to the rest of the brand.
If marketing is too generic or not focused on "me," customers will tune out – and nearly half of them do in the email environment if they receive impersonal or irrelevant content. They don't click, they ignore the email or they flat-out unsubscribe.
That's why marketers must pay serious attention to marketing in "The Age of Me."
Personalization must be truly personal
The late comedian George Carlin once used magazines as a way to describe society's progression from broad, grand ideas to more self-centered thinking. Popular magazines with sweeping titles like Look and Life gave way to Time and Nation, which eventually ceded to People and US, which eventually led to Woman's World and Men's Health, and then, of course to Us and Self.
And Carlin's wise commentary occurred years before the invention of the smartphone.
The same trends have occurred in marketing – from large populations to targeted demographic groups to sector-specific segments to me: one mobile customer at a time. Today, "the Age of Me" truly has arrived, represented by the smartphones that consumers carry 24/7 in their pockets, purses, packs and briefcases.
Marketers who understand how personal personalization must be in this "Age of Me" will make the best, most relevant connections to their customers. Because the "Age of Me" is about them, one customer at a time.