The addition of the Apple Watch to the customer's pile of devices (or the "Internet of the customer" to be trendy) is not a radical change in itself. However, it signifies the need for dramatic change in the way we market to customers.
As technology has evolved and new marketing channels have been created, marketing teams have grown into siloed groups that focus on functional areas such as branding, in-store, direct mail, online, and now mobile.
Now, of course, the Watch will most likely not become the responsibility of a separate team. I imagine in most (if not all) cases, Apple Watches and other connected devices will fall under the responsibility of the mobile team.
So what's the big change?
What the watch does represent is the blurring of lines between what have traditionally been seen as different "channels" by marketers. The addition of a connected watch potentially brings mobile content a step closer to customers when they're actively looking in-store and when they're out in the street.
For example, if potential customers are looking at a garment on a rack, they are unlikely to have their phone in their hand at the same time, but they will be wearing their Apple Watch. At this point, the Apple Watch becomes more powerful because of its proximity to the customer.
You now have an opportunity to deliver customers relevant, contextually appropriate messaging with the highest chance of it being viewed at that very point in time.
The Apple Watch now starts to perform a function closer to that of in-store advertising than a traditional mobile channel. And then similarly when customers are out in the street, the Apple Watch gives us the chance to engage with them at a point where outdoor mediums, such as billboards, are used. The advantage in using the Apple Watch is that it adds a chance to include all the personalization and relevance that mobile and digital channels offer, which outdoor and in-store on their own can't deliver.
What does this mean for mobile marketing?
In the same way the Apple Watch blurs the lines between in-store, outdoor, and mobile channels, mobile in itself is already blurring the lines between in-store, online, and print channels.
The smartphone gives businesses an unprecedented opportunity to connect to customers at any given point in time. And yet, rather than continuing the conversation from one medium to another, most Marketing departments are creating a series of disconnected, individual campaigns and strategies that often overlap with each other.
It's so unlikely that a customer is going to engage with a brand through one touchpoint at one point in time. Yet so many campaigns assume that will be the case. Or at best, they assume a single, defined hand-off from one channel to another, like scanning a QR code, will happen.
We need to do away with the notion of "mobile marketing." It's just marketing. If your marketing isn't mobile and it isn't already dead, it's probably going to be.
Moreover, if you’re treating mobile as a separate channel, you may be ticking that box, but it’s not going to be delivering the returns it should be.
So what should brands be doing?
Think about how you can deliver a continuous experience.
When customers start looking at a product on your website, it should follow through to what they see on your mobile app next time they look at it. Not in a stalking, overbearing "hey, are you ready to buy that coat" way but by making the things they've looked at easy to find.
Then prioritize content in your mobile app so products similar to those customers have shown interest in are the first items they'll see. Then after a certain length of time, in knowing that they're keen on something but haven't bought it, you give them a limited time offer to help them make up their mind.
In a customer environment with a constantly increasing number of connected devices and touchpoints, the customer's smartphone becomes the centerpiece of your interactions with a customer, not its own separate channel. Sure, your mobile app can send a push message to someone near a store... but wouldn't it be logical to then also have your website, your direct marketing dispatch, and your marketing automation platform know that person had been near a store but not gone in and target them accordingly?
With location from a smartphone app combined with weather data, you can know what the weather is doing where customers are or where they've been. You can know how far they've traveled to get to your store. The right approach can change everything about their experience, from how the store staff members greet your customers, to what they see on an in-store display, and the content that appears on their mobile app, and even a notification they receive via their watch while in-store.
Businesses are only going to see real value from spend on mobile apps when they get past this idea of looking at mobile as a separate marketing channel, and start to treat it as the foundation of a whole ecosystem.
Whether a phone, an Apple Watch, a pair of shockingly styled glasses, or any other connected peripheral, a customer's mobile device is your closest point of connection, but it's only useful if you're using it intelligently.
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