At Google I/O last month, Google revealed what could be the beginning of the future of how you use Google . Google Now was revealed as one of several prongs in a shift in mobile search strategy that Google has started with its latest version of its Android operating system – Jellybean. One of the most interesting things about it is that it really speeds up search by eliminating the need for it.
It’s going to be a long time before you no longer need a search engine at all, but Google’s goal with Google Now is to get you the information you need before you even have to search for it. It does this through personalization, requiring you to allow it access to certain personal information (things like location, search history, etc.). While Google Now only has a handful of “cards” – the types of information it will push to you in this fashion – the company has made it clear that it intends to greatly expand the number of situations where Google Now will become your personal assistant. This looks to be a major part of where search, or information consumption, is headed. As Google and competitors progress in their mission, the rest of us will no doubt learn a lot of things along the way. If you’re a marketer or a business owner, perhaps there’s already a great deal to learn from Google Now.
Mobile marketing company Globys, who works with carriers on leveraging customer data for personalized marketing has already seen plenty of lessons to take away from the product. We had a conversation with Lara Albert, Vice President, Global Marketing at Globys about it.
“Google Now is innovative in that it will be pro-active in delivering context-relevant information,” Albert tells WebProNews. “One of the most important things that Google Now brings to light is the ability to understand and anticipate user needs as well as the ability to act intelligently based on that understanding.”
“Brands have a lot of information about their customers, but in many cases they don’t have the tools to harness the data in a way that enables immediate insight and action,” she adds. “It’s time for brands to leverage what they know about their customers to engage them in more meaningful and valuable ways. And mobile is a powerful channel for doing so in that the device allows for such a personal and highly relevant means of engagement relevant to other marketing channels.”
Must brands build their own mobile apps to tap into the Google Now-like experience of delivering what customers want as they want it, or can they take advantage of existing apps that consumers are already using?
Albert thinks whether to build an app or use third-party apps is not the first question brands should be asking.
“The first question to ask is ‘what is my goal?’” she says. “By defining your objectives, you can then ask how mobile fits into the overall marketing picture.”
“Every marketer is interested in influencing customer behaviors in ways that align with a financial objective, whether that’s to increase revenue, for example, or build customer loyalty,” Albert adds. “Think of a department store focused on getting loyal customers to buy more when they are at their stores. An app can deliver an alert notifying of a sale on a customer’s most frequently purchased brands and the location of the item when they’re in the actual store. The alert may also recommend an item that similar customers have purchased in the past.”
“Or consider an airline focused on a life cycle management strategy to build brand loyalty, they can engage customers throughout the purchase cycle and beyond,” she continues. “What about an e-commerce company trying to motivate fans to create and share viral promotions? For each of these examples, brands should be using a data-driven approach to make their marketing more relevant – and let’s face it – more effective in driving a desired action.”
“Brands can leverage Google Now or other apps for awareness or attracting new customers, but for engaging existing customers – a branded app that collects, analyzes and delivers thoughtful, relevant, context-driven information will be more effective,” she says.
We asked Albert how she thinks brands be able to take advantage of Google Now itself.
“I would compare ads integrated with Google Now or another a third-party app as more akin to traditional online marketing – more like banner ads meant to increase brand awareness or to acquire customers,” Albert suggests. “Where mobile can really shine is in engagement with existing customers.”
“A branded app is a great opportunity to make the most of mobile’s strengths,” she says. “Think of the difference between getting a blast SMS from a local car dealership about a test-drive event vs. getting a notice about a promotion on a specific car model via your Volvo app which has been sending regular notifications and discounts for oil changes, tire rotations, etc. (and which has informed Volvo that your car is four years old and you have a pattern of purchasing a car every five years). Which offer are you going to be more receptive to versus considering it as spam?”
“Mobile apps allow brands to do more because they can collect data and integrate that information with other data such as a customer’s purchase history, loyalty program profile, etc.,” Albert concludes. “The real power of mobile engagement lies in the intelligent analysis of data from different sources and the ability to act on that data in real-time with contextually relevant communication.”
Perhaps the biggest obstacle for brands to overcome with this kind of marketing is getting customers to actually allow the kinds of settings required to gain certain data (location, for example). There are plenty of mobile device users who aren’t all that comfortable enabling this kind of information retrieval, but a lot of big tech and social brands making use of such settings is likely deteriorating the resistance to some extent. Google would be at the forefront of such brands, and with Google Now, the company may just be able to rip a giant chunk out of the barrier, especially once it is expanded on to a greater number of devices.
Google Now is only in its earliest of stages. Just wait until Google gets Glass involved.
About the author: Chris Crum has been a part of the WebProNews team and the iEntry Network of B2B Publications since 2003. Follow Chris on Twitter, on StumbleUpon, on Pinterest and/or on Google: +Chris Crum.