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The mobile phone had a surprisingly small impact until the commoditisation of smart phones and the advent of affordable data packages, according to Tim Norman, director for SDL Web Content Management Solutions, who explains here how to create an immersive, interactive brand experience for customers using the new generations of tablet PC devices. This article is copyright 2012 The Best Customer Guide.

The tablet PC's bright and shiny promise is already finding its way into our psyche. With the exception of early adopters, marketers are starting to think about how they can use this new device to their advantage.

Over Christmas 2011, the number of tablet owners almost doubled. And the buzz around iPad 3 isn't all based on an in-depth knowledge of the specifications, but rather the appeal and emotional response to the highly visual, interactive environment that tablets provide.

What immediately comes to mind is the size of tablets and their interactivity. Their touch screens, deliver the luxury of larger real estate than smaller smartphone screens - and this provides new marketing opportunities.

However, the key difference is how people are using tablets. Tablets are inherently 'leisure devices' and with the exception of job-related tablet use, most people associate tablets with their own time - when they're relaxed. Typically, tablet owners spend an hour or more on them, use them at home and have decreased their computer use in favour of the tablet.

Tablets also offer an immersive environment for visitors to find more information, interact within their shopping experience and even pay for their purchases. This inherently interactive environment, enhanced by customers' power to steer their own interaction, provides a tremendous opportunity for branding and a rich content experience.

In addition, research shows that the average purchase on a tablet is much higher than purchases online or via mobile. This comes as no great surprise as the average income for tablet device owners is quite high.

Optimizing the tablet channel
Currently, marketers are finding the best way to optimize applications, websites and advertisements to enhance the customer experience as much as possible in this medium.

Key tips for tablet marketing include:

  1. Take full advantage of tablet capabilities by creating a rich experience that extends beyond website capabilities.
  2. Find out what time of day your users mostly access your tablet apps/site and accommodate these usage patterns. Tablets seem to be used primarily in the evening. This may well guide a tablet strategy that incorporates more rich media since users are more at leisure and will spend a longer time on your site or app with fewer time constraints.
  3. Create a marketing experience that builds an audience for your tablet investments by promoting your tablet interaction on your website, social media, mailings and any communication channel.
  4. Accommodate concurrent use, knowing users may well quickly go from other devices to tablet.
  5. If applicable, provide geo-location sensitive interaction to tailor the experience for where they are and take advantage of local activities and promotions.

Integrate, integrate, integrate
As tablets become an increasingly commoditised device, we have now passed the point at which they are just owned by early adopters. The big lesson marketers have hopefully learned, is to approach marketing strategy in an integrated way, since no one tactic truly stands on its own.

To really create that single, engaging customer experience and cater for customers' use of different devices, you need to manage their experience across channels. This involves integrating tablet strategies with those of website, online marketing and mobile channels.

Providing this experience for customers, demonstrates that you recognise them and ensure that you market services or products for which they've already indicated a preference, regardless of device.

Moving forward, as analytics develop, you'll be able to further identify the best ways to interact with customers on different devices. In the meantime, you need to optimise the experience in all channels, while taking full advantage of new opportunities.
Traditional marketing principles
Traditional marketing principles still apply for achieving success in tablet marketing, here are some strategic questions you need to consider:

  1. Know your target audience. Do they use tablets? Like any tactic, it is only as effective as its reach. Understand the trends and evolution by keeping abreast with audience developments.
  2. How can you best apply your message to this medium to create an immersive experience?
  3. When visitors interact with your brand on a tablet, what do they do and what do they want to do? Is the best vehicle to interact with them an application, website or advertisement?
  4. Is the right channel for your company based on how tablet visitors currently use the medium? Are there innovative ways in which you can use tablets to reach your markets?
  5. How can you synchronise your channels to create a continuous experience from channel-to-channel?