Hey Marketers: It’s Time to Get on the Bus

Why the daily commute may be the best time to reach consumers on their smartphones

If you live in a city with public transportation, look around you the next time you step on a bus or a train—count the number of people looking at their smartphones. I’ll bet you it’s a majority of those in your view. Given that the average American spends close to an hour each day commuting to and from work, that’s a lot of time spent on devices—over 10 full days’ worth of commuting. As a marketer, that should be music to your ears.

In a recent survey comprised of 1,700 U.S. commuters, Fetch uncovered valuable insights about the ways they spend time on their mobile devices. Some topline findings: they use social media apps more than any other during a commute, followed by music/podcast apps and video apps. The study also noted a more than 50 percent surge in commuters using smartphones to order food over two years ago, while checking emails grew by about two-thirds in the same time frame.

Outside of the fact that people are becoming more reliant on their smartphones over time, it’s apparent that these devices are oftentimes a central part of the daily commute. Whether it’s content consumption or commerce-related activities, both activities continue to rise, opening up a variety of ways for marketers to connect with consumers. Here are a couple of ways to do just that and hopefully those commuting by car are only using their devices as a passenger or when their car is stopped…

Connect Authentically on Social

15 years ago, Facebook launched to the public. Back then, most people would have never guessed how successful the platform would be, especially marketers. Even five years ago, there was a lot of skepticism surrounding the value of social for advertising/marketing. But as we plunge ahead into 2019, brand marketers are fully grasping the importance of having a solid social strategy in place that’s tailored to their unique base of customers.

If you’re a new streaming video service or a new mobile game trying to find an audience, maximizing key moments of time like the daily commute is paramount for cutting through clutter and reaching your customers when they’re most receptive. There are also multiple approaches to connecting with your audience. You can use the power of suggestion with a timely Instagram Stories vertical video ad when people are looking to kill time. Ads on Stories now include conversion mechanics, so they are becoming a powerhouse for brand performance marketing. Social is also a great way for a brand to find its voice and forge an authentic connection with its biggest fans.

Master the Art of Effortless Cross Channel Marketing

Location-enabled technologies are a goldmine for marketers aiming to connect with consumers on-the-go. With the ability to breadcrumb messages over time and across channels, you can effectively reach your audience during the commute when they are bored and attention is easy to capture. If you reach consumers when they’re in this mindset, you have a great opportunity to build a loyal following.

One sector that is ripe for this particular situation is podcasts. Podcasts continue to grow in popularity and advertisers have followed suit by pouring money into the space. With half a million podcasts to subscribe to, and 44% of the US population listening to them, podcast marketers would be wise to engage with consumers during the commute.

The key here is making sure that you’re providing consumers with the right messages in the right places. Understanding your consumers’ habits and how they differ across channels should inform your messaging and ultimately increase your ability break through with them.

Create a Frictionless Journey   

We know that a 20% increase in decision simplicity leads to a 96% increase in customer loyalty. An amazing mobile shopping experience is even more important when the shopper is in a constrained environment with little or nothing to do.

As mobile shopping and buying continues to rise, especially during commutes, these windows of time are perfect for retailers to share new sales with customers via mobile.

Brand marketing and performance marketing are getting closer and closer as marketers embrace full funnel thinking. According to Dentsu Aegis Network’s 2018 CMO Survey, “As soon as they arrive at a brand site, potential consumers expect both to be inspired and to be able to make a purchase. The gap between brand inspiration and commercial interactions has closed.”

Dissecting and studying particular pockets of time to understand how people are behaving from a digital standpoint can uncover a whole new world of opportunities to engage your audience on their terms.  The daily commute is something many people, marketers included, overlook because it’s so routine. But that’s exactly why it also has the potential to make the biggest impact.

Mobile has quickly become the focal point for daily commuters.  And the daily commute is a marketer’s dream when it comes to reaching a captive audience.

Guillaume Lelait
Guillaume Lelait

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