Why analyzing customers’ mobile behaviors is a win-win for digital experiences

Mobile is shaping human behavior. And with the ever-growing number of connected devices acting as a gateway to your brand, how do you focus on tapping into the human experiences that lies behind that rich data?

I recently had the privilege of hosting a webinar with the American Marketing Association entitled ‘How to uncover human behavior behind the mobile screen’ in which I explored the meaning behind the different behaviors consumers display when engaging with their mobiles. So what better time than to share with you some of the points that I feel resonated best with the audience:

Mobile is global

Let’s consider first for a minute the state of global mobile proliferation and use.

It’s no secret that mobile usage is on the rise. According to eMarketer, American consumers spend nearly four hours on average every day, just on their smartphones. And in 2018, more than 50% of all website traffic worldwide will be generated through mobile phones (Statista).

Clearly, this is something that brands need to pay attention to. As marketers, it’s vital to change how we think about the various channels through which we communicate and engage with consumers, the content we deliver through each of those channels, and how we present it.

Think with your heart

Consumers’ cognitive and emotional states are not the same on mobile devices as they are on desktops. For instance, in a research I conducted jointly with my colleagues from the Wharton Business School – Dr. Shiri Melumad and Dr. Bob Meyer – we build on their previous work and show that people actually see their mobile phone as an extension of their self, and that the mobile phone does not serve as an emotional filter in the same was as a desktop might.

To illustrate, Dr. Melumad found in her work that consumers who express themselves online via mobile devices, such as when providing product reviews, are much more emotional in the content that they provide than they are when reviewing on desktop.

The takeaway? When consumers are on their mobile devices, they are less cognitive and logical, and instead far more emotional. We will get more success from appealing to customers’ emotions on mobile than by dealing with the cold hard facts alone. 

Seek and ye shall find

Another fascinating observation about mobile behaviors is how customers turn to the search function of a mobile site vs. its desktop counterpart. Research that we’ve done here at Clicktale has found that once consumers are on a mobile site, their in-site search patterns differ greatly.

Mobile consumers are 30% more likely interact with an in-site search box, they are more detailed in their search, and spend twice as long crafting the query in an effort to make sure it was just right. 

Moreover, in my joint work with my colleagues at Wharton Business School we also found that consumers are more likely seek out “guilty pleasures” and entertainment-related content on their mobile device than on desktops.

Take all these together and what we have is a situation where we have mobile users characterized by wanting quick answers, tailoring their queries accordingly, and seeking to access content that is easy to consume... and entertaining.

Me, myself and I

Usually when we think about the self-centered user, we think about social media users who can’t help themselves and post their innermost thoughts for all to see.

But our research shows that the concept of the self-centered consumer is relevant not only for social media, but also for retail, content, travel, and financial brands. For example, in my work with Dr. Melumad and Dr. Meyer, we found that consumers on their mobiles were much less likely to purchase a retail item meant as gift, and were less likely to add a donation to their purchase, compared with desktop users.

Better understand your consumers by taking a closer look at what makes them tick – are they interested in purchasing an item for themselves or a present for others? Focus your marketing efforts with a message tailored for their cognitive state; if they are in a “for me, myself, and I” mode, craft a message to suit that. If they are in a “for other people” mode, craft a different message.

Not just another channel

We need to stop thinking about smartphones as simply just another device. Instead, we should rephrase the questions we ask about our consumers and their mobiles. That is, why are they using the mobile as part of their brand experience journey? How do they use them? And, what kind of content and experiences do we need to provide them to ensure they engage, consume, convert, and return?

And since we see that mobile devices have evolved into what can even considered an extension of the self – answering these strategic questions has never been more important.

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