The smartphone is one of the world’s most powerful innovations. Today, this compact device has a profound influence on the way we live, work, play, communicate, process information, and access products and services. The mobile phone incorporates the capabilities of the telephone, television, computer, radio, the internet and the World Wide Web. With the giant strides in technology that it combines, we are able to do much more than ever before. By providing a platform for visual engagement, audio messages and text display, the mobile phone rolls three separate marketing platforms into one. Businesses, brands and service providers would do well to harness the power of the mobile phone and use it to maximise growth and profit by deploying it as a tool for customer engagement, security, access control, and workplace productivity enhancement.
It is projected that there will be ten billion mobile devices in use by the year 2020. Already, 70% of the world’s population today communicate through their mobile phones, with two billion people doing so through a smartphone. The data shows that the opportunities offered by mobile trends are immense in Africa. It is projected that by 2020, there will be 650 million internet users on the African continent, 500 million of those will be on a mobile device. A significant portion of the digital population seeks instantaneous solutions to their queries.
Businesses across the globe have responded to these mobile trends, for instance, by creating apps that are purely mobile-based. For example, Uber leveraged the power of internet-enabled mobile telephony to create a cab-hailing platform. Push notification and alarm functionality means our mobile devices can keep us up-to-date with news, information and reminders – a feature that no other device before now could possibly hope to do.
We also constantly need access to useful tools such as Google Maps (if we are in unfamiliar surroundings), WhatsApp (for easy communication, especially international conversations that were once prohibitively priced), and even location-based Google Search requests to find nearby restaurants, hospitals, and other essential services. Many businesses and airlines are already using mobile scannable codes and other digital tools for access to restricted areas.
For the business looking to reach its customers in this digital era, all of the above can be a double-edged sword: daunting as it is easy to get lost in the noise as more and more brands clamour to get online, but a great opportunity to increase awareness and profit if managed correctly. The immediacy of a mobile phone decision means that a potential customer can – from the comfort of their home – go from hearing about your product for the first time to successfully purchasing it within a few minutes, an end-to-end process previously unattainable for a seller.
The ease of the internet in the palm of one’s hand means there are very few businesses that cannot benefit from mobile technology. Commercial businesses can now leverage the internet, not simply by building a website, but by creating visibility for their products and services on social media websites.
News websites, although not traditionally social media platforms, have also become a great space for mobile advertising as a result of the substantial traffic they enjoy. Having to also adapt to the new world of digital technology, media outlets that were previously print-only have now incorporated online versions of their sites so consumers can get their news on the go. The media outlets have taken advantage of this new development and are now able to offer news content that is exclusive to their online versions as the virtual real estate is infinite and news can be published at any time without waiting for a printing deadline. A commercial advantage, this increase in real estate also means an increase in advertising revenue as the news sites can fit more adverts in various enhanced, enriched advertisement formats on their sites.
Our lifestyles are made of micro-moments of needs: the need to know something, the need to go somewhere, the need to do something, and the need to buy or acquire something. A successful brand must focus on these micro-moments in order to be top of mind for the consumer. In today’s fast-paced world, strategic thinking for businesses must revolve around connecting with digital consumers in a micro-moment, especially if that micro-moment applies to a solution the business offers.
Businesses must focus on their target audience and develop strategies on how best to reach them. They must ensure that their solutions meet the consumer’s needs at the right time and in the right context. Delivering such solutions doesn’t stop at merely making the information available either. The businesses must ensure that they stick to the core principles of great user experience, namely speed, content, design, and functionality. In Africa where data costs are still comparatively high, load speed, on mobile phones in particular, is a crucial factor in whether consumers choose to engage. Similarly, relevant content that speaks specifically to a need, clear design and intuitive functionality all work together to create an experience that is beneficial for the consumer and yields results for the business.
The internet and the mobile phone remain two of the most pivotal innovations of our time, and by understanding how to use them effectively, we can reach more people, provide more solutions and break more barriers than ever before.