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Loyalty is in the end a very important part of the value of any relation. Build a trusty system means years of taming and needs lots of efforts and demonstration on how you can deliver promises, and keep them alive in a long term. This concept stands with any part of modern communication and relation and rise with it. We can quote “loyalty calls loyalty”, when we see that the most loyals subjects do, because they like and spread it. While we’re facing a big shift in the way brands speak to targeted customers and drive their whole relation, customer could be considered as less “loyal”. Because of his mobility, he becomes less “catchable”, I mean in advertising terms, underlining the new technologies that keep him alive “on” with the brand: mobile devices. The way we look at customers intentions and try to catch his “brain awareness” changes. In fact, could mobile be an awesome opportunity to enhance loyalty or a silent threat to lose audience?

The mobile facts: some figures worth more than long talks…(source: ITU)

  • more than 5 billion mobile subscribers in the world
  • nearly 1 billion has access to 3G services
  • mobile networks access: more than 90% of global population and 80% in rural zones
  • already thinking of 4G networks, increasing speed and services
  • web access will overtake PC and domestic devices (wired), within 5 next years
  • 450 millions users on web mobile, end of 2009 (IDC)

This “jack-in-the-box cumulated figures” means that any people on earth (nearly…) can receive a simple message from any brand that wants to catch him…got it? Hate or like? Chance or fear? I think everybody will (have to) find rules and own behavior and reaction with this new environment…

The Loyalty goodness

Loyalty seems to be an actual goal for everyone: brands, couples, retail, habits…Why? Because it costs far less to nurture and care an “established situation” with uses and automatic behaviors, than draw, seduce and attract new ones. True for customers, new comers, new process…and new husband/wife. Now living in a always wired era drives us to more “online” behaviors, acquired to lots of any information. These new habits mean that we’re more demanding about brand communication and customer care, even if we’re not customer yet. This eco-system, self-feeding situations seems to find a regulation with user generating content, added by any citizen, in mobile situation. The more we are touched by mobile communication, the more we’re in fact, tied softly to brands, increasing our silent loyalty and attachment to companies. Loyalty is key for long term forecasts and ongoing business models, that can improve portfolios for brands.

What we see is a necessary change on how you target customers: awareness is not captured like any other situation and needs accuracy, what I see: bad moment for a SMS is a dead-born message…Life duration of a SMS and our ability to use it is in fact, few seconds…snatch for catch is the real art and skill of mobile communication. Even with PDA spreading everywhere, majority is often limited in size, shape and kind of message your mobile device can manage. Intrusion is as bad as choose a bad moment to send your message: as mobile is personal, you can’t be wrong with your target. Any disruption between the message and the profile of the targeted customer and you will have a storm against you: the action will give you the exact upset situation for the brand…So be careful. Last but not least, “personal” means directly linked to the individual and you can pledge for mistake or misunderstanding, or hide behind bulk message: you are supposed to engage conversation and give arguments, if the customers speaks to you…as an individual people.

Virality is a perfect territory of expression to spread loyalty. But no pain, no gain. Spread loyalty in fact means no more but no less than spread trust, through your customers…So they engage them in a risk they were not obviously prepared to assume, and will shame you if you betray and show them, they were wrong to do so…Absolutely disappointed. For a long time. All your efforts blowed in a single SMS…? That worths to think twice before act…Mobile tagging (stickybits, u snap, shop savvy…), geolocalization (foursquare, plyce, gowallah, tellmewhere, waze…) are so cute ways to follow you (without being too intrusive first…) and hold the link and relation between a brand and a customer. A personal and mobile one.

The independance riot

Lots of things, reactions and strange behaviors told us in history to care about machines control…This holy link for brands can quickly become a nightmare for customers, because being in mobility means sometimes a moment of serenity and  is particularly “my moment”. Do I like to be disturbed? It may transform our attitude in a sharp reaction, the “action-reaction” of throwing away all our good intentions and thoughts about the so called “friend” brand. Do we want “independance” or do we like to be plugged “all-wired” entity? Are we supposed to be en “engaged consumer” at all prices and times, where does our engagement start and end, as any sign of further involvement means we do accept, assume (like?) the ongoing phenomenia of being followed with our cute device, as a personal spy, shouting more and more commercials…

This schizophrenic question and dilemma may drive to bunch of protestants fence, leading to a community riot, boycotting brands and company, products and attitude. By doing this, “Lots lost lots”, underlines the surgerical need to be very careful about the final goals and uses of mobile opportunities. Remember independance drove people to blogs, forums and parallel sources of information, where trust can be refound. And I think it’s dangerous to lose with impulsive actions, trust you spent months to build. Moreover when it’s for sales matters and start to be boring with the mobile target, that just wanted to go apart from the “promotion noise”…

Human is anything else than an independant and rarely wants to be linked, promised, as he never asked for. But being opti§n doesn’t mean everything is allowed though: like the butterfly effect, a small SMS can raise a viral revolution…

Drawing the necessary conclusions

Nothing is really grave or irreversible in fact. We have what we ask for, when we see such passion for mobile devices, it must be important for us not cut the link with anything…And remember there’s a switch off that can resolve conflicts and harassment. Use it anytime it’s necessary…Brands too, sometimes switch off, when you have some claims on the way…

 

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