Despite a relatively modest adoption rate, attentive marketers at all levels still have plenty to learn from the launch and evolution of the Apple Watch–both from the device itself and what it represents as the tip of the wearable smart-tech iceberg.
This year Apple will sell over 10 million of its new Apple Watches, more than enough to dominate the 2015 smartwatch category. Much hype surrounding this and similar products has been generated over the last year or so, though smartwatches will represent just 1% of the 2 billion smart devices on the globe.
You don’t need to be operating on the cutting edge of marketing tech or neck-deep in mobile marketing on a daily basis to gain some valuable lessons from the recent launch of Apple’s new gadget. For now, it’s a good way for marketers to observe how a brand can deliver extremely contextual experiences to a niche set of early adopters and influencers.
Over time, you can expect the Apple Watch to increase visibility and appeal for the entire wearables category, igniting a fire of innovation and consumer trends that will be impossible for marketers to ignore.
Launch Lessons Learned
A common complaint about the Apple Watch that is probably contributing to its slow adoption is the lack of well-developed third-party apps. Few are able to provide brand new experiences that could only exist on a smartwatch powered by Apple software. When these experiences come (and they will come), they will first be offered primarily in the health and fitness space, where access to personal data will enable precisely targeted reports and recommendations based on behavioral data analysis. For example, Lark is already leveraging artificial intelligence to deliver personalized coaching to help consumers solve insomnia and obesity problems.
Along these lines, it’s clear to mobile marketing recruiters and experts that the Apple Watch and other smartwatches will primarily help service customers and enhance brand experiences, rather than play a direct role in acquiring new customers or overtly driving revenues. We’re already seeing value delivered in this way from airlines–notifying customers with travel updates, and Uber, which buzzes Watch wearers when a driver has arrived.
According to Renaud Japiot, VP in charge of digital operations at hotel operator Accor, the Apple Watch “can play a significant role in smoothing the customer journey before, during, and after the trip.” He expects it will play a role as a luxury concierge service moving forward beyond just the keyless room, which has proven to be a scalability challenge for the hospitality industry.
More Examples of Watch Apps in Action
The key takeaway here is that marketers should not think first to ads when it comes to smartwatches and wearables. Ads may eventually have some presence on smartwatches, but don’t expect them to be well-received except in certain cases. This is not just because the real estate is limited, but primarily because the ad message will become the content notification itself. In reality, the primary use cases for smartwatches are just glances–or micro-moments. If you’re in mobile marketing experts should expect customers to quickly tune them out in those fleeting moments if not offered a glance that brings them immediate value or convenience.
Blazing a Trail for Wearable Innovation
Apple Watch users may be relatively sparse for now, but expect this device to open the gates for a new wave of innovation centered on delivering individual brand experiences in context. This isn’t the first time the company has opened the technology doors with its own version of a new technology; consider the effect iPods, iPhones, iPads and the like have all had on their respective product categories.
Apple frequently serves as a trendsetter that clears the way for other companies with its successes and failures. To avoid replicating the mistakes brands made when releasing iPhone apps just to get on the App Store bandwagon in 2008, marketers should cut through the hype and understand what new doors the Apple Watch will open:
A new wave of innovation. Moving forward, new business and service models will emerge, enabled by the convenience and constant contact of wearables. Marketers can already take a page from the Disney’s MagicBands manual in the hospitality space or from Fitbit in the health and fitness space. Bear in mind, this is still the first iteration of the Apple Watch, and it’s not unreasonable to expect evolutions as dramatic as what we’ve seen on smartphones since 2008.
Integration with the Apple device family. While not a standalone device, the Apple Watch offers limited functionalities to control your iPhone. However, with no browser and limited text input functionalities, the Apple Watch will primarily offer passive computing interaction modes on a much smaller screen and a new UI, closer to a push, instead of pull, mode.
Apple has always championed compatability and synchronization across its devices, and Apple machines are expected to “play nice” with each other. Over time it’s easy to imagine that many iOS apps and functionalities will gain cross-device synching and integration with Apple computers and mobile technology.
For enterprising brands willing to engage with consumers via the Apple Watch, they must be mindful of designing hyper-relevant content for multiple screen sizes, and offer simple and immediate call to actions via NFC (near field communications)-based on swipe motions, voice commands and simple tap patterns. Mobile marketing recruiters will increasingly be looking for technical experts with omnidevice marketing experience.
More intimate brand experiences. Smartwatches are the most intimate mobile devices yet, even moreso than smartphones. Because smartwatches are worn on consumers’ bodies potentially all the time, marketers could create previously unreached brand proximity and preference.
Because the Apple Watch will launch the entire wearables category and drive innovation, marketers do need to start learning how to extend their iOS apps. But if you wanted to benefit from the buzz around the Apple Watch launch, it’s too late now.
For marketers that’s mixed news: bad because it means you’ve probably missed the window of opportunity surrounding the launch hype, good because you now have a little time to assess the maturity of your mobile approach and update your skills before diving in head first to wearables. Mastering micro-moments will require already having a sound approach to mobile moments on consumers’ smartphones, but it’s a valuable skill that will have future wearable marketing recruiters clamoring for your expertise. Make sure you are prepared to offer the truly personalized and contextual experiences that will be expected from your customers with a glance at the wrist.
Article Source: Ad Age
Apple Watch images from Pixabay: Feature | Body
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