On Tuesday I attended the second Fresh Thinking session hosted by Jobsite in London. The first one featured Scott Stratton and Amanda Hite talking about social media and its impact on businesses. This time round, Tomi Ahonen and Tony Fisher spoke about the topic of the day, which was mobile. It’s the widest reaching technology today with over 5.8 billion active mobile users expected by the end of 2011. How has it changed the way people and businesses communicate? What digital footprints (identities) are we leaving behind and what do we do about the growing privacy concerns? Essentially, I came to find out what place mobile has within construction marketing plans and how it can be used to add value to our customers and clients.
The first session with Tomi was literally a ‘stat fest’ with lots of numbers showing how mobile has grown over the past few years and case studies of best practice examples. Thereafter, Tony spoke about digital identities and how our data is the currency of the internet. Without it, the internet as we know would not exist. Below are some snippets of information that I want to share with you.
Take away points:
- The main opportunity that mobile presents to businesses is the fact that people carry their mobiles with them everywhere. There’s a chance for instant communication. One of my favourite stats from Tomi is: “the average time for an email to be read is 48 hours, whilst the average time for an SMS to be read is 4 minutes.”
- Mobile technology amplifies human talents for cooperation and collaboration. In any situation or context where humans interact, mobile phones and mobile services can improve that experience.
- Mobile is a separate medium and should not be seen as a ‘mini internet’. It requires a different approach and strategy.
- Kraft’s ‘no phone left behind’ mobile strategy reminds us that, whilst senior management may all have the latest iPhone or Blackberry, it does not mean that your audience does. Find out what your customers and prospects are using and optimise your site for different types, and generations, of mobile phones.
- The list below presents the nine unique benefits of mobile over other communication mediums.
1. Mobile is the first truly personal mass medium
2. Mobile is permanently connected
3. Only mobile is always carried of any mass media
4. Only mobile has a built-in payment mechanism
5. Mobile is most accurate in measuring audiences
6. Mobile is available at the creative impulse
7. Only mobile captures the social context of our consumption
8. Mobile enables Augmented Reality on a mass medium
9. Mobile offers a digital interface to the real world
- When developing a mobile strategy, focus on engagement because that is where the value lies. What new opportunities for communication does mobile provide?
- Augmented reality apps present huge potential for businesses, as this example of how architects are using it to connect with each other and promote their companies through the ArchitectMap project shows.
- Don’t forget about SMS and instant messaging on mobiles. Lemgo, a town in Germany, has saved energy (and 50 000 Euros pa) by turning off street lights on small roads unless someone sends a text to a designated number, which then switches them on for 15minutes. What other ways can mobile be used to help sustainability in the construction sector?
- The internet is a network of people and consists of the creation, consumption and storage of data. The data that is truly valuable for companies is ‘social’ and ‘behavioural’ data. We are not just ‘free’ consumers of social networks such as Facebook and Twitter. We are the product and our data is what sells!
- Tony defines digital identities as a combination of what you say about yourself AND what others say about you. You can’t control data, but you can try and influence your digital footprint.
- Data works 2 ways and people are either influenced by others or seen as the influencers. But who actually owns this data and what is the ethical imperative? What about privacy?
- When developing mobile strategies, take permission and preference into account. Communication over mobiles is more personal than communicating over blogs or social networks so you have to gain permission or it can feel intrusive. Find out what preferences your audience have. Do they actually want to receive an SMS from you?
- Data, data, data – as with all your other marketing communications plans, develop mobile marketing campaigns around data from your analytics. Mobile behaviour is trackable and insights around timing (when are people most active online and for how long) and message content (tone of voice, length, calls to action) should lead your communication strategy development.
For construction companies, there are still many questions to be answered, especially if we want to see mobile being used as an effective two-way communication tool, not simply another broadcast medium to blast out marketing messages. Collect and analyse data to develop insights on how your audience is using mobile. Start off with your website and then think about developing apps which comes at a later, deeper, engagement level. No point having an app if your site isn’t mobile friendly and beware of iSyndrome: a mistaken belief that building an iPhone/Android app is a mobile strategy!
For several years we have been hearing phrases like ‘this is the year of social media’, ‘this is the year of mobile’. These predictions mean nothing if you haven’t figured out if (and how) these new communication mediums have affected your customer behaviour. How are people are viewing your website – on mobiles, desktops, tablets? Where they are coming from – emails, social media etc? There’s no doubt that mobile usage has risen dramatically and smartphone ownership will continue to grow over the next few months, but figure out what the rates of adoption and usage are for your industry first before developing mobile strategies.
I leave you with this slightly shocking statistic: we check our mobile phones on average 150 times a day…that’s every 6.5 minutes! This figure is hard to ignore so think carefully about how you can use mobile to grow and nurture your customer relationships.