Trend Watch: The future of marketing on smart watches and wearables

 
 

The writing is on the wall: Tomorrow’s hyper-connected consumers will be, for the most part, mobile consumers.

In the U.S., “the number of mobile-only adult internet users exceeded the number of desktop-only internet users” for the first time in history this March (ComScore). Only one year ago, desktop-only usage was still double that of mobile.

Adding fuel to the flames, the next level of mobile connectivity has already arrived. Wearables and smart watches – the (immediately sold out) Apple Watch as the matinee product – allow users to connect while leaving their smartphones stashed in their pockets.

 

Sending vibratory alerts and other haptic notifications, wearables literally create a seamless connection to consumers’ nervous systems. In other words, they are every marketers dream and smart watch advertising spend is already expected to reach $69 million by 2019 (Juniper Research). Conversely, the wearable fitness electronics market is poised to reach $5 billion by 2016 (Gartner).  

It’s a bright new day for marketers, and we are only just taking the first steps on our wearable marketing journey (on which we will digitally track our steps, and heart rates!). That said, here are a few unfolding trends and handy strategies for keeping up with tomorrow’s hyper-mobile consumers.

 

A new app economy

The app line-up for Apple Watch currently offers about 4,000 third-party titles. But most of them merely turn the watch into a remote control for apps that still “live” on the iPhone. So there’s room for improvements – and a new incentive for developing your own apps.

 

Developers will soon receive the kit for creating native apps for the Apple Watch, perhaps as soon as Apple’s WWDC in June. That’s when the device will truly start to shine, especially keeping in mind that – hard to believe! – current third-party fitness apps are still unable to access the Apple Watch’s built-in pulse tracker. #failedstart 

 

The data will end up with the usual suspects

A vast amount of data collected by wearables and smart watches will most likely end up on the servers of companies that already have deep hooks into consumers’ lifestyles. We’re talking about you, Facebook, Apple, and Google!

But not to worry. Since these master aggregators also play nice with marketers, data sets such as location or health metrics will be available… but additional fees may apply. Maybe those costs for creating your own smart watch app don’t look so steep, after all.

 

Expect a spike in location-based marketing

With wearables, the customer journey literally becomes a passage between location-based milestones. Or as digital marketers like to call them, triggers.

Smart watches and fitness-oriented wearables routinely track and compute their users’ location. This opens up a vast array of possibilities for connecting digital messages with real-life experiences. From inviting users into a brick-and-mortar store as they are walking by, all the way to sending a coupon for sports nutrition after a completed workout – brands can tell powerful stories with location-based triggers.

 

Watches become wallets, instant coupons

Packing powerful NFC technology, the Apple Watch comes factory-loaded with the proprietary Apple Pay service. This allows for easier, more seamless payments on two levels: First, users can leave their phone pocketed while paying at check-out with a flick of the wrist.

But the second point is where it gets interesting for marketers: How about loading rebate coupons for physical and online stores straight into the mobile payments ecosystem? No more keying in codes or magic coupon phrases – special rebates will be personalized and instantaneous.

 

Tracking fitness unlocks marketing with a quickness

Fitness trackers, routinely connected to smartphone apps and data centers in the cloud, accumulate tons of vital (ha!) data about their users. And not just from a fitness standpoint: IBM just launched an entire new business unit – supported by Apple – for converting personal data into “new employee health and wellness management solutions.”

And while many consumers may draw the line at making their personal health data available to employers, applications for marketing purposes are endless. Knowing what your customers want at any moment is easy when you have a finger on their actual pulse.

 

Compress to the max

At first, Twitter’s 140-character limit seemed, well, a bit dense to many marketing professionals. But compared to how little will fit on tiny wearable displays –  Apple Watch comes with a 1.5 or 1.7-inch screen – those Tweets have epic proportions. 

 

As the new gold standard, messages and notifications need to be “glanceable” on smart watch displays. Apple even developed a tiny new typeface, the San Francisco font, but ultimately, content will need to compress significantly to reach wearable consumers. The good news is that in-depth reading will still happen on the “big” screens – of smartphones.

 

Time is of the essence

On smartphones, even the most precisely timed push notifications require users to cooperate by taking their phone out and looking at the screen. Smart watches, on the other “hand”, will send a vibratory pulse in an instant, inviting users to activate a message simply by looking at their wrist.

And since smart watches tend to be worn on the body around the clock, they are the key to injecting real-time messages into customer’s lives. But proceed with caution…

 

Caution: Respect the consumer’s space

By virtue of vibration-based messaging and notification, the Apple Watch gives marketers access to literally “touch” consumers. So it’s vital to respect this level of trust – as well as the customer’s privacy.

Marketers need to be smart about sending push notifications   and maintain an appropriate message frequency to give the customer enough space.

 

Smart devices call for smarter data management

With all this data trickling in from multiple mobile touchpoints, marketers need to polish their digital chops to create personalized customer journeys – and to do so at scale. The focus is no longer on “big” data, but on smart data that’s relevant to customers’ preferences and behavior patterns.

Supported by an omnichannel audience engagement platform like Selligent, marketers can transform customer intelligence into 1:1 dialogues while keeping up with the increasingly mobile lifestyles of today’s hyper-connected consumers.
 

 

For inspiration on what you can achieve with mobile technology, download our Mobile Guide here.