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Connected Consumers Create On-Demand Expectations

Research confirms that smartphones are now the number one way consumers access the Internet—coming in ahead of personal computers, work computers, and tablets. Google says that searches on mobile devices now outnumber those on personal computers in ten countries, including the United States and Japan.20 What do consumers do with their smartphones? More than half say that, at least daily, they do seven essential activities—accessing email, texting, searching on the Internet, social networking, using their smartphones while watching TV, getting news alerts, and playing games, according to salesforce.com (see Figure 1.4).

Figure 1.4

Figure 1.4 Activities Performed Daily with Smartphone

Source: 2014 Mobile Behavior Report, salesforce.com/marketingcloud of 470 consumers.

Mobile offers certain channel-specific value in that it enables brands a greater capacity for real-time context and consumer-focused interactions. Yet, despite the potential, consumers nonetheless routinely show signs of dissatisfaction and annoyance with the mobile delivery of many brand marketers. For example, in the BC Customer Empowerment Research Study 68% of consumers decided not to install a mobile app when they found out how much personal information they would need to share in order to use it. And 59% uninstalled an app on their mobile device because they found out it was collecting personal information that they didn’t want to share. However, when we broadened our inquiry into the top reasons they chose to uninstall an app, the number one reason was that “the app was not useful to me,” cited by 74% of respondents. Sixty-three percent said that they needed to “free up memory on my mobile phone,” suggesting that they deleted those apps that were deemed expendable. Otherwise, 42% were “concerned about personal data the company is collecting about me,” and 39% were annoyed by “too many marketing offers” (see Figure 1.5).

Figure 1.5

Figure 1.5 Top Reasons You Chose to Uninstall an App

Source: Boston College Customer Empowerment Research Study, 2015.

These research results highlight the fact that many of the mobile apps some brands offer today are simple “Generation 1.0” apps that essentially replicate the basic functions of a company’s website, or worse—they are token apps that enable the company to claim they are a participant in the digital economy, but consumers sense they have not seriously thought through the incremental utility that should be evident in a really useful app. While on vacation last spring I went to a barbershop and saw a promotional sign inside the shop that said “Get our mobile app.” I enthusiastically asked the barber if the app was available on the Apple App Store. Yes she said, so I checked it out. Sure enough there it was. I quickly downloaded it. The app lets you find the brand’s barber locations—any smartphone has that function built in, with Siri on the Apple iPhone for example; and you can check in for an appointment. That’s it. Within 3 minutes I had deleted it from my iPhone. One customer wrote this critical review:

Here the consumer defaulted back to a desktop website to interact with the brand. However, given the dramatic trending of consumers reliance on mobile for Internet access, brands must either offer a mobile-optimized website or design a mobile app—rather than offer a desktop website that is not mobile optimized. In 2015, Google made a definitive statement to brands and app developers that they needed to update their websites to be mobile friendly. Google changed its structural search algorithm to increase its emphasis on mobile usability as a ranking factor. The algorithm has a determining impact on search results, relegating nonmobile optimized websites to lower search results ranking.21

Researchers at salesforce.com summarized the issue with mobile optimization: “A mobile-optimized website is a make-or-break opportunity for brands. Mobile-optimized websites make it easier for consumers to access content on smaller screens, decreasing the need to zoom in to read text and making it easier to find and tap relevant information.” However, their research detected significant frustration even with mobile-optimized websites by more than half of consumers:

Furthermore, it is not enough to simply offer an app. Consumers now expect apps to demonstrate high quality—similar to the mobile experience they get with other highly useful apps, such as Snapchat, Instagram, Spotify, Google Maps, Pinterest, and Pandora.

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