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You’re Reading This While on the Toilet Aren’t You?

We love our smart phones. For the vast majority of us, checking our phones for emails, text messages, news, and social media updates has become instinctual.

Waiting in line for coffee…check the Weather Network app.
At a red light…text your spouse.
In a meeting…check email.
At the airport…play online poker.
At lunch…take and post an Instagram picture.
In the bathroom…read Facebook posts.

We check our phones often. We do it without thinking. And we do it often.

(Oh, and maybe, just maybe, once in a while we actually call someone.)

Our addiction tosmart phones, combined with our love of social media, had the organizers of this past week’s MarketingProfs B2B conference in Boston thinking that an intervention of sorts was necessary.

While checking Facebook, I noticed this warning on the back of the bathroom stall door.


And later, while checking my email, I noticed this sign above the urinal.


I found these signs to pose quite a conundrum. Ann Handley, MarketingProf’s Chief Content Officer, and her team posted these signs complete with hashtags, which we all know is the universal call to action for: Tweet This. Yet their message seems to imply that we should not be tweeting. What to do, what to do? [Damn you Ann!!]

I tweeted them.

Yes, we’re addicted to our smart phones. Of course, you don’t need me to tell you that. You know it. You do it. In fact, you’re probably sitting on the toilet reading this right now.

Yet, if we all know this, why are so few businesses “mobilizing” their businesses?

Mobilizing the Customer Experience

Addiction or not, smart phones provide a direct connection to our customers. Through text messaging, social media, e-mail, apps, and news feeds, mobile devices provide a constant touch point with a business. Every time  consumers look at their phones,  they’re opening a window for a possible brand engagement. What are you doing to answer that call?

There are dozens of strategies and tactics that can be deployed; however, as Tim Hayden so eloquently stated in his mobile presentation at the MarketingProfs B2B Forum, the key principle is to simply remove the friction of doing business.

Improve the Customer Experience Using Mobile

  1. Use browser sniffing technology to determine if customers are accessing your Internet properties via a mobile device.
  2. Understand your customers’ needs when they access your business through a mobile device. If operational in nature (most often the case), provide direct access to their accounts or customer service, not to your marketing blurbs.
  3. Use geo-location services to push your brand to the customer when they need it, even if they don’t know they do.
  4. Ensure your website is built with responsive design so that the same user experience is available across all channels.
  5. Don’t ignore “line of sight” advertising such as bus shelters, coffee shops, and airports where people are most often on their phones. Create ads with specific mobile calls to action.
  6. Mobile screens, which are increasingly those by which your customers interface with your digital brand most often, are limited in size. Don’t overcomplicate the message or creative.
  7. Ask for permission, as appropriate, to text your customers directly. Allow customers to text you their questions instead of tweeting them and, in turn, ask them to allow you to text them.

Listen to Your Mobile Customers

The last piece of advice I’ll add here is to listen 24/7/365. Thanks to mobile devices, your prospects, customers, and competitors are online 24/7 and so you need to be as well.

Real Time Complaints. Often, customers will use their smart phones to complain on social networks while a negative brand experience is happening in real time. This is your best opportunity to prevent a viral social media storm from occurring and to convert an unhappy customer to a loyal advocate.

Real Time Questions. Customers turn to their smart phones while “in the field” and actively seeking  help or a recommendation. Are you there to provide the required help or recommendation before your competitors are?

Real Time Opportunities. Monitoring community conversations as they occur in real-time provides you the opportunity to uncover occasions for amazing customer experiences. For example, seeing a group conversation brewing among a group of people after a local concert may allow your community manager to offer a real-time promotion at your local restaurant or bar.

Sensei Debates

Are people too connected to their smart phones? Bad for people, good for business? 
Mobile devices offer a better opportunity to engage a brand’s customers than a personal computer. Agree? Disagree? 

Share your thoughts either way in the comments below.

Sam Fiorella
Feed Your Community, Not Your Ego



Join the Conversation

carmenykm 5pts

Great post. Indeed we need to care more about the consumers' experience when they are engaging with the brand. From this post I've found really good tips about how to optimize a brand's social appearance and usability. However, in my point of view, user experience nowadays is more than being user-friendly. I think it's more about how to actively earn trust and intimacy through the engagement. (Off topic: I wonder whether the fact itself is good or bad. Is it possible someday the folks just have an epiphany that the obsession with social media is just not the right way how we communicate with others? Or will we just getting more and more dependent on social media? )

Milaspage 5pts

Are people too connected to their mobile devices? Everyone loves to complain about the person using their cell while out to dinner etc, but the truth is the answer to that question is none of our business- as a marketer the answer is - for better or for worse, people are on their devices because it's easy, and entertaining, and connects people to others - so as a business our only concern is being there for them too and as you pointed out, how about making things as easy for our customers and prospects on their terms and where they need us. If that's in the bathroom, then that's their business - our business is delivering value.

samfiorella moderator 5pts

@Milaspage :) Yes, I complain about the person checking Facebook posts while at dinner with me. Often, I pull out my own phone, at that same dinner table, to post a complaint about the other person. Yes, I too am addicted.

I catch myself instinctively  reaching for my phone any second that I'm not occupied doing something, and frequently when I am, in fact, occupied. I've made a conscious effort to take forced breaks but even then, there's no denying that I turn to my smart phone for most activities in my life. It's my personal assistant. There's no turning back. I'm on my phone more often than I'm on my computer these days. 

Yes, businesses need to pay attention to this fact if they want to better engage me. 

samfiorella moderator 5pts

Oh, @Milaspage and it's not my business if you're using the phone in the bathroom, until I ask to borrow it. Then, well, you know... :) 


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