I admit I’m an Apple “fan boy” and have been an early adopter of pretty much all Apple devices. Do you remember the first iPod—the big white one with the clicker wheel? Yup, I had one. I’ve also had several other Apple products, including numerous versions of the iPhone, starting with the first one in 2007, to iMacs, iPads, MacBooks, and even a few big daddy Mac Pros (You can surely see where all my disposable income goes). So when the groundbreaking Apple Watch was announced, I was giddy and knew I wanted one. But why did I have to have one of these rather expensive devices? I like new technology, and I like gadgets. As a digital marketer, I want to stay in touch with the newest technologies. I truly believe that by having an iPhone in the early days, I was better able to understand the technology, the importance of mobile, apps, and other new marketing trends that are now the norm. As a digital marketer, it’s my job to stay on top of the trends.

My Thoughts on the Apple Watch

It’s been a couple of months since I began using the Apple Watch, so allow me to delight you with my impressions:

What’s cool: Seeing alerts, dictating into the watch for text messages, remote photo taking, resting heart rate measurement, alerts to remember to stand up during the day (really!), and paying for coffee at Starbucks sans wallet. The tie-in to Maps and directions is also pretty slick—I love having vibrations on my wrist to notify me where to turn!

What’s not so cool: Having to charge the watch every night, the screen going black too fast from non-activity, and the relatively slow dictation response time.

Has it changed my life? Not exactly. But one thing it is doing is reducing the amount of times I have to look at my iPhone. Why is this important to us marketers? Well, it means that we now have to start thinking about how we can deliver a message that a user will respond to with just a glance. In its own marketing of the watch, Apple says: “Glances. Just the right amount of information, right where you want it”. So, I ask, how is this concept of “glances” going to change things for marketers?

If you are like most marketers, you are just getting your mobile marketing plan going. Many marketers have now created an app to engage with their customers via the mobile channel as well. Some, even more advanced marketers, are using mobile marketing techniques like push notifications, in-app messages and more to engage with their app users to improve engagement, retention, and customer lifetime value. This shift to “glances” is the next wave of mobile marketing in the quest to engage customers wherever they are, and it’s going to require marketers to start rethinking their strategies. This takes a page right out of engagement marketing, which is about engaging customers at any time and at any place they may be with a relevant message.

In a Sept. 2014 AdWeek article by Garret Sloane, the author quotes Jeff Malmad, Mindshare’s mobile director in North America by saying: “The watch is another screen where we anticipate a number of opportunities”. “How can we tell better stories with additive experiences there as opposed to intrusive disruptions?” In that same article, Ben Rubenstein, president of POSSIBLE Mobile, shared his thoughts about the new considerations with Apple Watch marketing, saying “with notification messaging instantly available on a user’s wrist, marketers need to take that into account. Now that it’s on the watch, they will see it way more often”.

Milk & Bread at a Discount: My First Apple Watch Ad

I’ve now received my first Apple Watch ad, and it came from Safeway, a major grocery chain. I’m a user of the Safeway Just4U mobile app, and a fan of it (download it—you can save an extra 20% on your grocery bills!) But upon getting this message on the Apple Watch, I was intrigued as a marketer. In a quick glance of my wrist, I saw an offer that was compelling: $3 off $20 spent, a 15% discount. I went through a variety of emotions: was this instance of marketing obnoxious, or did I like it? After thinking about it for a bit, I decided that I didn’t mind the message because it truly offered me something of value.

safeway ad_snip

Here are a few tips that marketers can take to ensure that their messages are also well received in this new Apple Watch, ‘glances’ format:

  • Remember that all you have is a glance, so keep your message short. Very short. Like tweet-short—but even less than that! I say 70-80 characters is more than enough.
  • Provide something of VALUE to the user so your message is not deemed an annoyance.
  • Have a clear and concise (short) call-to-action (e.g. “Buy now!”)

Final Thoughts

It’s still in the (really) early days of the Apple Watch, but I can see the potential for wearable devices like this to be a whole new frontier for marketers to conquer. The new medium will come with new opportunities as well as new challenges. I encourage marketers to think of this first version of the Apple Watch as a major driver in the new way of marketing to consumers, with only a fleeting glance as the amount of time given to engage.