Marketing to the Perpetually Connected Customer

Patti RennerIn Los Angeles last week gathered some of the brightest minds in digital for Forrester’s Marketing Leadership Forum 2013. The underlying theme was the “perpetually connected customer.” For these individuals (referred to as “perpetuals”), the use of digital is part of their lifestyle – multiple devices, multiple logins from multiple locations, all day long. In fact for some perpetuals, the information they receive via mobile device can sometimes be more real than their own reality. Many cannot have experiences without a mobile device involved. Consider the number of athletes walking the track at the opening ceremonies of the Summer Olympics in 2012 with their phones held high to capture the scene. Instead of savoring the spotlight after a lifetime of effort, many preferred to capture the experience digitally over the experience itself.
Research from late 2012 found that only about 4% of the population are perpetuals, yet that number is expected to grow rapidly. Mobile has trained our brains to expect more from our mobile experiences, using them as a tool to shorten the distance between what we might need and what we know we want. As the value of the experiences goes up, the level of connection to those useful experiences will also climb.

Another word for perpetuals might also be “distracted.” The old statistic where marketers had 7 seconds to connect with consumers when they land on your website has been replaced with 2 or 3 seconds on mobile. So how do you best reach these people? By inviting them to come to you. At the heart of your approach is content – but not just any content. Marketers need to shift from “sell” to “serve” in their overall approach. Start with sharing something useful. Content, advertising, videos, downloads and more all need to revolve around the needs of the customer. Where are they on the customer journey? What are they struggling with? What story can you share to support your brand mission while serving, educating or entertaining the customer?

How can you reduce the friction in any part of their lives?

Johnson & Johnson was an example shared during a presentation. As a brand that features baby products, soaps and lotions, they could have focused on their products, or their company history. But instead they placed their customer first, helping them deal with one of the greatest challenges of new parents – sleep. Their utility approach to reaching customers includes a highly rated app with instructions for bathing newborns, how to make a baby cozy before bedtime, lullabies, and more. Not only is the information useful – it also supports the overall brand vision.

When reaching today’s perpetuals, usefulness always wins. What can you do to better serve your audience? Maybe there’s an app… or a website… or a video on your company’s YouTube channel… for that.
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