Technology is About Connection

Patti RennerAs a former journalist, I find myself drawn to the “why” behind industry trends and statistics. Forgive me for sounding like a curious 5-year-old, but I’ve been asking myself some questions. For instance:
  • Why are tablets enjoying the fastest adoption rate of any new technology in history?
  • Why do people in a tight economy spend hundreds on multiple devices, resulting in the level of device fragmentation we currently see today?
  • Why are so many people on Facebook? Even with “Facebook fatigue,” Neilsen reports that 17% of time spent on the Internet from a PC is spent on Facebook (December 2012).
  • Why are people predicting the death of the PC when so much of the way we navigate our day-to-day revolves around the Web?
  • Why do my 80-year-old parents who resist online checking insist on owning an iPhone?
  • The underlying theme to all of these trends in question comes down to connection. Just as the World Wide Web connects websites and online content, its users seek a continued connection, digitally tethering to each other and the brands to which they identify. It’s a mosh pit of connectivity and we’re all just crowd surfing trying to stay on top of it.

    In the past 18 months or so, consumers have shifted from being simply interactive to becoming “always addressable.” The idea of advanced technology as intimidating has evolved into people demanding the tools they need to live their lives. The idea of “too much” has been replaced with “what’s next.” All of these device types offer a means to connect with others (people, online content, brands, etc.) for every thought that crosses through our highly connected minds.

    According to recent research released by Forrester, a shift must take place to engage this type of consumer with marketing that works. Here are a few ways to approach it.

    1. Take a people-first approach. Use your data from multiple touchpoints (including social and others) to better understand each individual and what motivates them to take action. To do this you need to “Create a fuller picture of all their decisions.” (This takes data management.)
    2. Consider the context. To engage these always addressable people, you need to consider what they’re doing, why they’re there, and what they’re doing as they interact with you. According to other research from Forrester, “Remember, 89% of tablet owners tell us that they use their devices at home, and of these, 79% are using them in their bedrooms.” Knowing that, when you look at your cross-channel engagement (such as email opens) and see a trend by time and device type, this information should factor into your overall approach (mobile phone = fewer clicks; tablet = image forward; etc.).
    3. How can you best meet their needs? The trend is not necessarily “mobile.” It’s more about getting the customers what they want, when they want it, on whatever device is at hand.
      The sooner you adopt an approach that spans multiple channels and device types, the better your odds at keeping up with consumers who blur their technology into their lifestyle. It begins with a shift toward connection. If a technology or tool doesn’t enhance that connection with your audience, you’d be wise to find an approach that does.
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