As the first part of this post helped sort out, companies and consumers can benefit from Web cookies. They serve multiple purposes and can be used to strengthen your marketing and sales strategy. However, they're becoming harder to make use of in a world where wireless, digital devices are quickly becoming the norm for navigating the Web. In a way, they've become slightly stale.
Getting the Ball Rolling Let's be completely honest. The demise of the desktop is likely a bit further on the horizon than most would expect, but now's a good time to reference the Boy Scouts of America: always be prepared. In this case, don't get tunnel vision. The market for mobile devices is rapidly expanding, but businesses and consumers still make use of personal computers that can't necessarily be taken on the go, which makes smartphones and tablets somewhat supplementary products in the world of Web search and e-commerce.
Less POS, More Point of Reference In fact, smartphones and tablets are excellent resources for researching products, as consumers have already found. A recent study conducted by the e-retail group Local Corporation found the number of consumers using their smartphones to research products before making a purchase rose to 73 percent in 2013 compared to just 34 percent in 2012. In effect, these mobile devices have enabled shoppers to rapidly find information about product or service ratings and reviews and understand store policies. As a result, this opens up a wide range of possibilities for businesses interested in targeting the broad - and expanding - group of shoppers.
Again, since cookies don't necessarily work well across a variety of screens, mobile marketers have to be more disciplined and tactical in approaching consumers through their mobile devices. With this in mind, just under 20 percent of mobile advertisers plan to increase spending in this area by 50 percent over the next two years, according to a survey conducted by Interactive Advertising Bureau and Ovum, a tech research firm. The reality of the advertising world is consumers have developed a habit of using their mobile devices as one of the first points of contact with a business, whether that's through their website or doing a Google Maps search. So, you have consumers that are searching for information online and then moving offline to complete their purchases.
Bridging the Divide As Marketing Land points out, we're entering an era of real-world analytics where consumers are moving fluidly between multiple devices, both mobile and desktop, as well as brick-and-mortar locations. Your traditional cookies aren't going to solve this problem. Yet, ignoring everything that happens as a result of these interrelationships will likely set businesses back. While e-commerce offers consumers many benefits - and is far more measurable - it only accounts for about 6 percent of all retail sales in the U.S.
The smartest companies are leveraging mobile devices to their advantage. The keyword here is indoor marketing. Because of the very nature of mobile technology, a company can use in-store WiFi to track consumers' smartphones and tablets to see how long they spend in a certain location, according to the digital media website NetNewsCheck. More than that, businesses can use mobile device sensors to understand which aisles or displays draw consumers' attention. With this information, brands can send targeted coupons or exclusive savings to shoppers through text messages or email based on their behavior.
In effect, companies can begin to bridge the divide between Web analytics and offline shopping behavior. Recently, Google has worked with various shopping malls to create indoor maps that companies can use to measure consumer interaction with their products and location. In fact, a report from the in-store marketing firm Swirl indicated 83 percent of female shoppers would provide information regarding their location in exchange for $25 worth of credit for purchases at the store.
Bearing this in mind, there are still concerns over privacy, just as online consumers are worried about third-party cookies failing to maintain security of their personal and financial data. However, the benefits for both customers and brands alike are hard to ignore.