Shifting marketing to meet mobile customers


Mobile customers have the potential to change our business in profound ways. Advanced mobile communications is coming of age at a time when other technologies and societal shifts are working in parallel to radically transform whole industries. Some of these shifts have shown up in the marketing realm in the form of social media,  customer experience, customer analytics , real-time decisioning, and the pivotal roles of search marketing and content marketing. Those same developments have fostered the rise of the "empowered customer," and one of the biggest drivers of that empowerment comes from mobile communications with the smartphone.

Because of the capabilities of the technologies behind it, today's mobile communications go beyond satisfying the basic need for people to engage simply with one another, such as greeting or calling for help. Examples of simple long-distance communications are as "old as the hills," as evidenced by yodeling, smoke signals and "hollering." While those activities continue to this day in some parts of the world, more often we think of cell phones or smartphones when we consider mobile communications. And far beyond yodeling or smoke signals, today's mobile devices enable us to share ideas, capture images and recordings, transact business, gather information, and gain insights as we've never done before.

In the retail industry, we've seen phenomena driven by mobile phones such as "showrooming," where customers might go into the physical store location to see and perhaps try the item, and then end up making the purchase on line - possibly with a competitor, or even while they are still in the physical store. The biggest impact, however, is actually happening in the minds of our customers, where they've become so accustomed to having near real-time access to answers, ideas and other people to connect with. We've now seen that some people seem unable to have a momentous experience without including their smartphone in some way. And that is precisely the trend that marketers should be paying attention to.

Josh Bernoff, of Forrester Research, shared his findings in this area at the recent Forrester's Marketing Leadership Forum, where he provided all attendees with a copy of his research report, "The Mobile Mind Shift Index," in which he outlined his three major take-aways as:

  1. The true impact of mobile is the change in attitudes it creates.
    This is happening at the individual level and can be seen by observing the behaviors of almost anyone that uses a smartphone.
  2. The mobile mind shift index (MMSI) measures how many of your customers have shifted.
    In this case, the Forrester team identified three drivers of engagement with mobile applications: device ownership, frequency of access and diversity of locations. Based on those factors, they numerically calculated the relationships among these factors and then laid out six categories to capture the degree of mind shift.

    • The "disconnecteds, dabblers and roamers" are the least engaged and comprise 78% of the U.S. population today.
    • The three most engaged segments are the "adapters, immersers and perpetuals," and while they make up just 22% of the total population, these are the most affluent and influential of all customer segments. These are the individuals that have "shifted."
  3. Your customers' MMSI determines how quickly you must act to offer mobile experiences.
    The key is to figure out where and how the 22% most-engaged people are engaged with your organization. If you focus on the "shifted" people and understand their engagement with your brand, that tells you how quickly you should shift your marketing to accommodate them. Ultimately, they key is to shorten the distance between what people want and getting it to them.

Attendees of that conference also were treated to the companion report by Melissa Parrish, aptly named "Marketing Strategy for the Mobile Mind Shift, offering more details on the "MMSI" and what you can do about it. Stay tuned for more details coming up on mobile customers and mobile marketing. In the meantime, let me know what you think - how have your customers shifted and how have you shifted your marketing to meet them?  As always, thank you for following!


About Author

John Balla

Principal Marketing Strategist

Hi, I'm John Balla - a Digital Marketing Principal here at SAS focused on Content Strategy. I co-founded the SAS Customer Intelligence blog and served as Editor for five years. I like to find and share content and experiences that open doors, answer questions and maybe even challenge assumptions so better questions can be asked. Outside of work I stay busy with my wife and I keeping up with my 2 awesome college-age kids, volunteering for the Boy Scouts, keeping my garden green, striving for green living, expressing myself with puns, and making my own café con leche every morning. I’ve lived and worked on 3 contents and can communicate fluently in Spanish, Portuguese, Hungarian and passable English. Prior to SAS, my experience in marketing ranges from Fortune 100 companies to co-founding two start ups. I studied economics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and got an MBA from Georgetown. Follow me on Twitter. Connect with me on LinkedIn.


  1. The increasing popularity of smartphone usage means that your customers can essentially be connected to your business or brand at any time and no matter where they are. They could use the phone to call you but more than likely today they will navigate to your website or social media profile to try and get in touch. This means that your customers service agents have many more outlets to monitor.

    • John Balla

      Exactly, Jason! That's why marketing needs to shift its mindset to meet the shift that's already happening in the mind of our customers!

  2. Pingback: Brian Solis’ vision of the future: connected customers - Customer Analytics

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