Current Issue
This Month's Print Issue

Follow Fast Company

We’ll come to you.

Fastcoworks Created for and commissioned by Adobe
Fastcoworks Created for and commissioned by Adobe
Learning From Consumer Trends: Marketing to Customers Across Digital Devices

Consumers just cannot get enough of their digital devices.

According to Nielsen, the average American owned four digital devices in 2014; now, that number has risen to seven, with the latest Adobe Digital Index report indicating every consumer uses an average of three devices on a daily basis.

Consumers love their digital devices — and that includes marketers. However, sometimes, we have a tendency to get lost in the data without taking a step back to consider how we would like to have offers delivered to our own devices.

Think about it: how many times have you purchased a product on your desktop, only to see the same product advertised at a lower price on your smartphone? Have you ever When you shop for shoes online you select your size, or your favorite color. However, you may be forced to start over and select your shoe size again after switching to another device.

Situations like these are consumer pain points that can lead to repeat interactions and disgruntled customers. Today’s consumer demands are higher than ever before, and if your marketing is going to connect with them, then you will have to play by their rules.

Rule No. 1: The Consumer Is Always Right Now

Consumers expect results — period. The bombardment of marketing emails, display ads, popups, and push notifications streaming across their digital devices throughout the last decade has not only resulted in clever consumers who know when they are being directed toward a dead end, but also a tangible change in consumer behavior.

According to a recent study released by Microsoft Corp., the average human attention span was eight seconds in 2013, down a full four seconds from the year 2000. With the reduced attention span over the last decade coinciding with the boom in the digital revolution, it is easy to see why delivering clear and concise marketing messages is crucial to successfully engaging online audiences.

Consumer expectations remain high in the Digital Age, in no small part because of immediate access to content through the likes of products such as Google’s impeccable search tool or Facebook’s ever-streaming newsfeed. Consumers want what they want when they want it — and that time is always right now.

Rule No. 2: Consumers Desire Seamless Connections

In the eyes of the average consumer, few things are worse than beginning a customizable experience on a mobile device, only to have to start all over once the transition has been made to a larger screen via the nearest desktop. And if you do not think this will be an issue for your brand, think again: the latest According to Adobe’s Get Personal study, nearly 8 in 10 consumers (79%) and 90% of millennials report switching devices some of the time when engaged in an activity; two-thirds (66%) of device owners find it frustrating when content is not synchronized across devices.

Today’s consumers expect personalized experiences in which tasks initiated on one device can be seamlessly completed on another. Brands can start working toward delivering seamless experiences across digital devices by focusing on consistently identifying people as they move from one digital experience to the next.

For example, let us say you are a musician who is really interested in a new bassoon, but you have never checked out the instruments online. You decide to visit a world-renowned bassoon website (we will call it Beta Bassoons) to search for the right bassoon for you. You are checking out different types, different styles, and different colors of bassoons from your smartphone when your experience is suddenly cut short.

Should you decide to resume your search later from your desktop, laptop, or tablet, you do not want to have to start digging into everything all over again; you want to start right where you left off. If Beta Bassoons is collecting anonymous data that automatically signals which devices are owned by the same user, then the online bassoon retailer will be able to display results similar to the previous selections you filtered out — and all without requiring a login or collecting personal information. Such strategies create win-win situations both for brands and the consumers to whom they are marketing.

Rule No. 3: Consumers Loath Redundancy

Most marketers have caps on advertising not only because of budgetary constraints, but also because there is a point when consumer fatigue sets in. An overwhelming majority of digital marketers rate their companies as "effective" when it comes to personalized marketing (93%), but less than two-thirds of consumers agree (63%).

Imagine you are marketing a new line of sneakers to a particular customer, and you have determined that the right course of action is to show a display ad to this person 10 times. What happens when that customer has inadvertently been shown the display ad 10 times on a mobile device, then another 10 times on a tablet, and then another 10 times on a desktop?

Consistently offering the same audience a product it is consistently not interested in not only results in wasted ad spend, but also leads to consumers developing negative views of your brand. No one likes a pushy salesman, which is why getting the right message in front of the right people across all of their digital devices is key to winning in the Digital Age. Meanwhile, nine out of ten digital marketers recognize cross-device identification as an effective way of advertising online, but just 28% are currently doing it.

In Closing

Consumers love their digital devices, and the need for people-based marketing — as opposed to device-driven efforts — is rising by the day. If you actually want to connect with your customers, then you will have to learn to respond to their desire to jump from one digital device to the next.

When focusing on personalization efforts, you always want your customers to continuously ask themselves, "Why would I go anywhere else?" Consumers respond to authentic experiences, and adapting your digital-marketing strategy to deliver seamless experiences across all of their digital devices can help create the type of loyal supporters that every brand needs.

By Amit Ahuja

This article was written and commissioned by Adobe, and the views expressed are their own.