Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock somewhere for the past few months, you may (just possibly) be aware of the launch of Apple Watch last month. For anyone involved in marketing of any description, it’s certainly an exciting and interesting event — after all, the watch provides the opportunity to get even more up close and personal than ever before.
And marketers love the opportunity to get up close and personal!
But the Apple Watch and similar products are almost certainly just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the integration of wearable tech and the mobile app. The ‘rise of wearables’ isn’t just an opportunity — it will pose interesting questions to mobile app developers (it is primarily as an extension of the mobile app that the Watch will function) and will demand ever greater control of how businesses interact with their customers.
2015 will see the rise of ‘multi-device’ apps that synchronise across these devices in a way that fits into the preferences and usage patterns of each individual user. In other words, the ‘experience’ of interacting with a particular brand will exist across the phone and watch — and indeed a number of other devices where appropriate.
That’s hugely exciting, but probably comes with a side order of consumer nervousness around the potential for ‘more invasive and irritating than ever’ marketing direct to the wrist. The winners in this space will consider and resolve that challenge head on - an option that is most certainly better than forcing the consumer to resolve it themselves (they will resolve it by deleting the app!)
Perhaps the clearest specific challenge is around understanding what should be shown on which device and when. It certainly won’t be sustainable to expect users to tolerate every push notification you may want to share being sent direct to the watch, so smart organizations will have to establish a “hierarchy of messages.” Some will go to the watch. Others only to the phone - all dependent on the assumed preferences of the user.
That last point reminds us that we’ll also want to ensure we track how individuals interact with our app or service across multiple devices. Which notifications are typically read on the watch? Which on the phone? Which actions typically take place on the watch? It’s only by being able to answer these questions that we can make decisions around what we show on it.
Lastly, consideration also has to be given to how messages and interactions appear on each device type. Clearly there is not as much space on the watch, for example, as on the phone screen. And in fact, on Apple Watch there are two default ways to show messages - the ‘short’ and ‘long’ look.
App design will have to evolve to meet these different requirements, learn from each individual’s unique usage patterns, and deliver relevant messages appropriate to whatever device they are likely to appear on.
If you can make all that happen, you’ll be one of the few building really strong relationships in the new wearable ecosystem. Good luck!
Christopher Dean joined Swrve as its CEO in June of this year, and is also serving in an advisory capacity to both Twin Prime and Appington. Prior to joining Swrve, Christopher was the chief revenue officer at Urban Airship.