Is it a TV? Is it a computer? Is it a phone? It is bird or is it a plane?
You can make phone calls from your computer and tablet with applications like Skype; you can watch online films on your TV through a game console; you can shop online and play games on all of them. Our electronic devices are so versatile and so powerful these days, the boundaries are becoming very blurred.
A recent study published on Think with Google showed that the vast majority of all media consumption happens on screens nowadays, and not only that, but what is now observed is multiscreen usage: we don’t use one single device anymore since portable screens allow us to move quickly between several of them wherever we are. Our choice of screen depends on whether we are at home or on the go, which one is more efficient to perform a task and how long it will take to complete it.
The modes of multiscreening
The research also revealed that people use screens either simultaneously or sequentially, i.e. either they research information on several devices at the same time, or they start on one device but complete their task on another.
Interestingly, we don’t seem to have the same purpose in each case. In sequential mode, the most common activities performed are surfing the internet, social networking, online shopping and searching for information.
We will do the same research on several devices, and this will usually be done in the course of a day. It is the prevalent multi-screening mode.
In simultaneous mode, the top activities are emailing, internet browsing and social networking. From a marketing point of view, this is a less than ideal situation, as our attention is divided between different activities on each device and businesses will have to work even harder to capture our interest.
How we use our devices
It makes sense that we would rather grab our smartphones or tablets which are within reach than go to a different room and have to wait several minutes while our computer switches on and does all the things it needs to do before we can use it. But even though we partly decide on which device to use based on convenience, other factors weigh in.
Smartphone use, for example, is motivated by the desire to be entertained and to communicate. Small, always close-by whether we are at home or outside, it is no surprise that they would show as having the highest number of uses per day and be the most widespread starting point for initiating multiscreen tasks. We fit them in during “dead” times, such as waiting in a queue, while commuting, or when we have a couple of minutes to kill or need information quickly and immediately. Follow-up research is usually done on a computer, desktop or laptop.
Tablets are used for entertainment and communication too, but with a different mind frame. They are consulted at home more often than on the go, primarily during what we perceive as our leisure time, at a more relaxed pace, with no limit to how long we will use them for. Planning a holiday and shopping come high on the list of activities, which demonstrates these findings. Like for smartphones, follow-up research tends to be done on computers more than other types of screens.
Computers, now, they are a very different animal. We take them seriously and trust them with our big decisions, we use them to find information and to keep us up to date, and they have been clearly identified as the starting point for more complex activities such as managing our finances, while we also watch online films and look for specific information. The follow-up research shows a greater switch to smartphones than to tablets.
Another point worth mentioning is that three quarters of tasks performed on smartphones are spontaneous, while the percentage falls to half on computers. This is a general trend noticed across all activities including online shopping.
How to apply multiscreens to your digital marketing strategy
As most of media interactions are done on screens, the distinction between “traditional” and “digital” marketing has become somewhat irrelevant.
Your digital marketing strategy should be tailored to meet the needs of your consumers on a specific screen and their various goals when using each. It is undeniable that smartphones, computers and tablets are fundamentally different devices so conversion goals should therefore reflect this.
As sequential multiscreening is predominant, the capability of signing in so that customers’ results, shopping carts, etc… can be saved is crucial –having to do your shopping all over again just because you are moving to another device will be enough to put a customer off.
Customers are searching between devices, so you need to make sure that your SEO is working for both desktops and mobile, and the same goes for paid search advertising. If someone has found you through organic search on a desktop, you need to make damned sure that they can also find your just as easily when they move to a smart phone and that the site is easy to navigate. If not you will lose business.
Remember that you need to give them a high-quality, seamless website experience throughout their journey, regardless of the device they are using. This means that your website itself may need adapting so that consumers can go from research to checkout in a number of steps adequate for the device they are using.
Smartphones are now part of our everyday life, keeping us connected to the web at all times and circumstances, and this study showed that they are the starting points of many activities and multiscreening: it is therefore imperative that you website also be mobile optimised.
In order to maximise their revenue, it is vital that businesses understand multi-screen behaviour and how it affects the sales process so that they can advertise to potential customers on the right device and at the stage where their audience will be the most receptive to their offer.
If you are running paid search / Adwords campaigns that you have thought about the calls to action in ads that will appeal to people who have less time that are searching on a mobile phone, and also ensure that click to call is enabled so that with one click they can call through to your business or sales rep.
Designing a website which will keep customers engaged and allow them to complete their purchase easily regardless of the device they are using is essential too. It also means that conversion rate targets and calls to action shouldn’t be limited to one device, but should be integrated throughout all platforms.
If you are raising your eyebrows at the thought of how much it will cost, just remember that it also means more sales opportunities!