Smartphones, Habits and Marketing OpportunityBy Amy Hatfield
Last year, I went through a phase where I hated my smartphone. It constantly bossed me around via texts, emails, phone calls and reminder alerts. It demanded more attention than the real people in my life, like family and our dog, Boo. Around October, I decided to leave my phone parked by the coffee pot for several hours after my husband, Mark, and I finished dinner. That did for me what pruning does for fruit trees: cut back some to yield more later.
That was then. But now, I'm attached to my iPhone all over again. It's because of Luke, our 1-month-old baby boy and first child. If not for the smartphone's camera, I wouldn't have photographed his freaked-out expression the first time he tried his swing; and the quiet moment where Mark sat still, studying a sleeping Luke's face, tiny hands and feet. I'm capturing much of this now because the phone is there in ways the camera never was. And there's the convenience of immediately sending photos from the phone to Mark and Luke's grandmas via text or email. That capability is common now, but pause and think how extraordinary it is.
Smartphones are changing my day-to-day routines, and yours too, I'd bet. Their influence is so overwhelming they're even shaping cultural and business trends. According to the Pew Research Center last year, 35 percent of American adults own a smartphone. And - this is the startling data - one-quarter of smartphone owners use their phone for most of their online browsing. Pew reports, "While many of these individuals have other sources of online access at home, roughly one-third of these ‘cell mostly' Internet users lack a high-speed home broadband connection." Some, like the 28.2 percent of rural Americans - or close to three of every 10 - lack access to fixed broadband simply because there is no access available, while others can't afford it.
Likewise, smartphones are altering habits of those working in - or, at least, interested in - the archery and bowhunting industry. The ATA saw a significant jump in how its Web site, archerytrade.org, was accessed during this year's Trade Show. Twenty-eight percent of archerytrade.org users visited our site using a smartphone or iPad during the week of the Show. For comparison, only 11 percent accessed our site using mobile devices during the 2011 Show.
All of this prompts me to wonder how archery and bowhunting businesses and - most important to ATA members - archery and bowhunting consumers use their smartphones. Is this mobile device a primary tool for some when receiving email and retrieving online information? If so, does this affect how ATA and ATA members send out information, such as promotional materials and marketing messaging? Data do not yet reveal exactly what's taking place among our audience, but there is enough interesting information to raise these questions and consider how smartphones affect your company's marketing plan.
Also interesting is the high ratio of rural Americans (30 percent) who lack access to high-speed broadband because of their location. And, despite your location, another factor makes rural trends relevant: the National Shooting Sports Foundation reports that active hunters are more likely than inactive hunters to live in small cities, towns or rural areas. Finally, thanks again to the Pew Research Center, we know 21 percent of rural Americans own a smartphone. How many ATA member companies, archers and bowhunters own a smartphone and use it to access information online? How many are reading your company's newsletter and your marketing emails on their smartphones rather than on their computers? How many would prefer a text alert announcing a new product, special or discount rather than receiving that information by email? If your marketing emails feature images, how do those display on a smartphone? Can your Web site be viewed easily when accessed using a mobile device?
Many answers are still evolving. But just knowing this limited amount of information warrants investigation. You might start by pulling your Web analytics and studying your audience to determine how they're viewing your messaging. Knowing your audience is a critical first step in shaping your marketing plan. That rule applies for all things marketing, but it must now also consider how and if smartphones have become vital "handlers" of information we want our audience to see and act on.
Did You Know?
The ATA estimates that 20 percent of sales outlets are full-time independent archery-only retailers.