What Will Mobile Marketing Look Like in the Next Decade?

In the 1990s, years before mobile marketing took off, phones began their rise to prominence as a tool for common personal use. Each year seemed to bring small and lighter models, with little features like “flip” cases, walkie-talkie style calls, and the first text messaging services. To many, it felt like an unimaginable luxury, the quintessential sign of the future as now. By the time the first cellphone cameras were introduced in the early 2000s, it seemed like there couldn’t possibly be more to cram into a phone case.

Today, my phone speaks to me, organizes my life, gets me where I need to go, and gives me full access to the internet. Occasionally, I use it to place calls.

Over the course of just twenty or so years, cellphones have gone from devices that amaze us to objects on which we place an enormous amount of expectation. “There’s an app for that” is a phrase that’s become ubiquitous with what issues we expect our phones to address: everything and anything. The technology is astounding and constantly improving, but consumers have gone from skepticism to outright dependence in such a short amount of time that marketers have been left with their heads spinning. The platform presents so much opportunity for brands to tell their story, but can marketers keep up?

A recent study from Sitecore suggests that consumer expectations may actually be outstripping marketer’s ability to deliver. As analyst Brian Solis summarizes:

“People expect businesses to design a thoughtful mobile experience that helps them go through their journey. They want businesses to understand their intent and design content, paths, and outcomes that align with the context of each moment of truth. They don’t want generic click paths, 1990s websites, marketing-speak, gimmicks, or friction.”

As the number of people accessing marketing material on mobile continues to outstrip those using desktop, marketers should not only be thinking about how to improve their mobile experiences today, but also how to prepare for mobile practices in the future.

The Future of Distraction and Dedication

Regardless of the technological advancements in mobile over the next five to ten years, there are two trends that are likely going to continue to impact the ability of marketers to tell their brand’s stories. The first is the somewhat self-evident growing reliance on app-based interactions as opposed to web or phone/text interactions. The trend itself is not too surprising: Given a platform where a user can either use a tool that meets their need with consistent functionality (apps) or search for a solution in a medium that may suffer connection or responsiveness issues (web) it seems obvious that apps would be the clear winner. With the declining cost of competitive data plans and growing stability of online content, marketers should be planning a two-pronged approach: Discern which parts of your brand are the most engaging and suited for a regularly-used app, and combine that with an understanding of what functionality and aesthetics from an app could be used to make your mobile web presence more engaging.

One recent development that demonstrates this beautifully is the rise of interactive video. Back in 2014, these interactions were relatively simple—take, for instance, Nissan’s ad for the 2014 Rogue which allowed users to tap on various “hotspots” throughout the ad to gather more information about the car as the video played. With a 78 percent completion rate and 98 percent engagement, the performance compared to regular video was clear. But from there, marketers have been given access to tools that can help move video from just slightly more interactive ads into fully immersive brand experiences. Over the past few months, 360-degree video has become perhaps the clearest picture of this, allowing marketers to create video experiences that can go beyond simple ads to into personal stories that elevate the brand experience.

These trends might suggest that users are becoming more engaged with the media that they consume—after all, more people are spending more time consuming more content on mobile. But with constant access to literally a world of content, smartphones have also created an audience of users with extremely distractable tendencies and low attention spans. The response to this has been a largely traditional advertising one—interrupt people’s attention, capture them in the first five seconds, and then hold them.

While there is some merit to this approach, the idea that brands will have to constantly recapture audiences only leads to an ever more distractable content space servicing an audience that is unlikely to remember much of anything about your brand after leaving your material. As mobile marketing continues to develop, your brand’s goal needs to be centered around engagement and trust rather than clicks and views. How can you take advantage of the tools presented to you to convince a user that every time they return to your brand, they will have an enjoyable and engaging experience?

Future Proofing

It’s hard to know exactly what the next smartphone development is going to be. Perhaps they’ll tell us how to reach our wildest dreams or be embedded in our skulls. Perhaps they’ll know how to cook us a meal or clean our home. Perhaps they’ll be even slimmer than they are now.

Regardless of what is to come, there are a few principles and tactics that your brand should keep in mind to always remain ahead of the mobile marketing curve; Engagement and retention will always be more valuable than new users, so focus on interactivity and stories that support brand loyalty and aesthetic over a surprising interruption; Create concise content, but be fully fleshed out to ensure you offer value to every user. And integrate social media wherever possible, as the familiar format will make your content easy for users to interact with and share.

The future is bright for mobile marketers, so long as they remember that behind the flashiest tech, the smallest phones, or the most elaborate content, there will always be the common denominator of a person. Aim to reach your viewer at a human level, and the rest of your marketing will only have to bring them back to your brand time and again.

Interested in more content marketing analysis? Subscribe to the Content Standard for the latest tips, trends, and studies.

This article originally appeared on The Content Standard.

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