The idea of the connected consumer is all the rage in the marketing world today. But what does this really mean? And, equally important, what should a brand do? The connected consumer has a few facets including:
- Anywhere, anytime access to information: This is the device part. More than 80% of consumers watch TV with a phone or tablet in hand (Gartner). Mobile phone penetration worldwide is 77% and climbing (Mashable). More people worldwide will access the Internet through a mobile device than through a desktop by 2014 (Morgan Stanley). People have more access points than ever to the Internet which opens the world’s information to them anytime, anywhere they want.
- Rapid validation of facts: Because consumers can get to information anytime, anywhere, they can validate it in real time. Is the price they see in the store the best around? Is there a promotion going on in this store or someplace else? Does the product really perform as the marketing materials say or do online customer reviews differ?
- Social recommendations: SEO and PPC are the cornerstones of access to the connected consumer. These two tactics will get your brand in front of them but that’s just the beginning. From here, consumers will access their favorite social media sites – usually Facebook, Twitter and possibly some blogs – to ask for recommendations and opinions from people they know and who know them. This adds a personal relevance to the validation of the facts.
- They are ageless: While many people have written great articles on Millennials or Generation C for connected, like this post from Brian Solis; the fact is the connected consumer can be anyone of any age. They may choose different devices and apps to be connected by, but they are all connected in some way.
Fantastic you’re thinking… so now what? Gaining interaction with connected consumers is mostly a content strategy followed by a multi-media execution strategy. How does this work?
Content must focus on the relevant threads of your brand for each consumer. It’s no longer about your whole brand everywhere all the time. Instead it is about that one thread of your brand that will form an emotional connection with a consumer. To do this, audience segmentation of all forms is critical – who are they; where are they; what makes them happy/sad/motivated-to-action; what do they care about; what could they care less about… somewhere in these answers are the threads of your brand that will make the connection.
Visibility of the brand thread is the app connection. Using the term “app” very loosely… this could mean everything from your company website to YouTube videos to Facebook to Four Square to Twitter to a custom brand app. Where will your targeted consumers most likely be online when they expect or want to see this brand thread? Most often it is multiple places or they want to connect threads across places so this is not a decision of a single place online – rather the range of places online these consumers will go.
Emotional connection is dependent on the device. How your brand thread shows up in the app of your choice is completely dependent on the device a consumer is using when they have this experience. Want the consumer to immediately share their excitement about your product? Well, you’d better have a great connection in Facebook and Twitter that works via mobile phones. Want people to enter a contest because they can’t wait to win your prize? Again, if they are entering after seeing a TV commercial, the contest website must be tablet-optimized and mobile phone optimized since those are the devices people have with them while watching TV. Or better yet, have an app that connects via the consumer’s TV directly. If a consumer gets frustrated with your brand experience because of the device they are having the experience on, you’re sunk.
Connected consumers bring fascinating new marketing opportunities for brands. You can now engage with them in more ways, in more places and most importantly in more relevant ways. Just remember to think about the brand thread, the app and the device so you create a full, rich experience for these consumers.
Happy Connecting and I’ll see you online!