Note: This article was originally published by Booz & Company.
Imagine this: On a commuter train to Manhattan, a young woman named Suzy searches for vacations on her smartphone and saves several locations in a travel app. Her husband Jason gets a notification on his phone that Suzy has created a new destinations list. He selects London, browses upcoming events there, and highlights a few. That afternoon, Suzy opens her tablet, peruses links to London hotels, which have been recommended by the travel app based on her browsing history and personal profile, and “favorites” the ones she likes.
When Suzy and Jason sit down to watch TV that evening, a personalized travel ad featuring a video about London appears. Following the video, Suzy launches the TV’s Web browser so the couple can review additional information on the hotels and events they each identified earlier, along with packages and pricing. Jason modifies the choices on his tablet, which automatically update on the TV. They pick the options that they like best and book the trip using the TV’s remote.
On the flight to London, Suzy skims a list of restaurants compiled on the basis of current offers and five-star ratings by travelers with similar profiles, and makes a dinner reservation for the next night.
Throughout their vacation, Suzy and Jason receive daily itineraries, confirmations, curated guides and offers, and tailored maps on their mobile devices. They use their devices to access reviews and recommendations, ask questions and get real-time answers, and post pictures and videos to share with their friends and family. They pay for their purchases with their smartphones’ mobile wallets, and their purchases are automatically recorded in loyalty programs.
You may recognize elements of this functionality. Perhaps you have benefited from some yourself. Indeed, most of the technology needed to deliver Suzy and Jason’s vacation experience already exists—but it is being deployed in piecemeal ways. Companies that seize the lead in weaving together available mobile functionality to create truly personalized consumer experiences will gain a distinct advantage in the near term—and set themselves up as the strongest competitors in the mobile-driven future.
Mobile Is the Glue
Increasingly, mobile is serving as the adhesive that holds a consumer experience together. (Also see "Smartphone to Aisle Nine," by Heidi Froseth, Tina Manikas, and Ken Madden, below.) It can link together all other marketing touch points, including TV, outdoor, print, online, word-of-mouth, and in-store channels. And because consumers carry their devices everywhere they go, it bridges the digital and physical realms. Mobile is changing the game for the entire consumer marketing ecosystem—across brand manufacturers, retailers, credit card companies, mobile carriers, media companies, and marketing services providers. Companies that grasp the transformative capabilities of mobile and follow the four principles below will find that true omnichannel marketing is within their reach.
First, realize that mobile is personal. Mobile devices are a direct connection to the information consumers access, the brands with which they engage, and the social tools with which they connect to others. Vast amounts of data about the personal preferences and activities of consumers, including their physical locations, are generated by their interactions across digital media, which are increasingly conducted via mobile devices. With these rich new streams of data, marketers can personalize any shopping occasion and deliver far more relevant solutions to consumers.
Mobile enables marketers to link and sync consumer data and personas across touch points. Mobile can make TV and print personal—consumers can read or see an ad, scan a code, and receive individually tailored offers. In the store, shoppers can receive personalized information while walking down an aisle or at the register, and react to that information instantly. The multidirectional nature of such interactions provides marketers with additional data they can use to further tailor content to consumers, and to glean insights they can employ to improve the consumer experience.