Mobile is far more personal, contextual and potentially intrusive than print, radio, television and desktop ever have been. We rarely, if ever, switch our mobiles off, and they are always on our person or nearby. The relationship that we’ve developed with our 6-inch screens has inevitably been influenced by this closeness, or indeed reliance. I, for one, am genuinely concerned about my infatuation with my device, and… no, I’ll leave that topic for my therapist (you’re welcome).

This unique relationship between mobile device and its owner is inevitably forcing a change in marketing strategy. Marketing has always existed to drive customer loyalty and increase revenue, but the tried and tested means of doing this don’t necessarily translate to the hyper-personalized and intimate world of mobile. On TV, we are resigned to the fact that half of what we are subjected to is increasingly desperate advertising for things that don’t provide much value to us. On mobile, it just doesn’t work that way – thankfully.

What Makes Mobile Special?

Much of what we do on mobile is helping us to do things, and perhaps even more significantly helping us as individuals do things that only we care about. Our smartphones are essentially digital assistants that tell us when the next bus is arriving or that our food will be delivered in a couple of minutes. Just think about how much easier something like getting a bank overdraft is.

Let’s take a moment to examine just how fundamentally mobile changes that process. You check your balance and it is low. A real-time analytics system has already segmented you as being approved for an overdraft. Checking your balance triggers an in-app message letting you know the overdraft is available. You opt-in by touching a button, and that’s about as much effort as you have to put in. It’s an elegant, and efficient way to help customers, whilst also deepening their relationship with mobile.

It sure beats going to your local branch at lunchtime and joining a queue of equally annoyed people when you could be doing something better. And for the bank, it certainly beats buying TV adverts to broadcast the fact that some customers may be eligible for a mortgage (whilst irritating everyone else)

From Marketing To Service Provision

The above is a perfect example of the shift from marketing towards service and utility provision. Both have the same ultimate goals of optimising engagement and driving revenue, but the latter does it in a more subtle way; one that doesn’t batter us with desperate pleas for attention, but instead anticipates and knows when and why we want or need attention, providing a frictionless solution in a matter of seconds. And this will be expected by users in the coming years; we won’t tolerate invasive and irrelevant messages from brands just trying to get us to spend something.

This interaction model isn’t just hashed together, however; it requires orchestration and cooperation between different platforms and silos to build a real-time understanding of a user, otherwise it will descend into the same irrelevance as spam marketing.

Take this push notification for example: “Hi Kate, check in for tomorrow’s flight to Dublin is open. You usually reserve an exit row seat – just two remaining”. Dissecting it shows us our new interaction model – a triggered mobile message (the day before the flight) that is personalized (with name and location), that is predictive (based on previous behaviour), and that is helpful (as a reminder/alert), all pulled together from multiple data sources to create an individual conversation with a user.

It should be clear then that you’ve potentially got a lot of planning and implementation to pursue. Don’t panic though – these things are coming, but the first step is understanding the fundamental change in the way marketing works.