customer experience,Tale of Tablets: Executing a Strong Digital Marketing Campaign #SMWA
My father-in-law loves nothing more than to have his Sudoku puzzle, the couch and his “clicker,” so he can turn on the television shopping channel and later proudly boast that he “bought that off the TV.”

Then there’s my wife, his daughter, who comes home after a long work day, gets into her comfort mode, grabs her own “clicker” like her father and then, of course, cuddles her iPad. Good chance there’ll be a few hits to the family debit card by night’s end.

Two completely different shopping media methods, but ultimately, the same habits -- a comfortable, convenient shopping experience. And it’s a world digital marketers are constantly struggling to penetrate.

Tablet and TV Shopping – Same Customer Traits

Maureen Dawson, senior manager of analytics at AOL, caught up with us last week at the Social Media & Web Analytics Innovation Enterprise in Boston. The tablet shopper (aka, my wife), she said, is an online shopping force digital marketers and organizations must watch closely.

In a video chat with us after her formal presentation at the conference, Dawson told CMSWire a story that ultimately tells me this: my father-in-law and wife, even if one is glued to the TV while the other uses it for background noise, are one in the same in terms of shopping experience.

“What we found is that people are turning on their tablets when they get home from work in the evening,” Dawson said. “In many ways it’s a lot like catalog shopping used to be. It’s done in front of the TV leaning back on the couch, and it’s a lot of browsing.”

People are engaging with their tablets, Dawson said, for “exploration and discovery.”

“It’s a lot of window-shopping,” she added. “But in the end they’re ultimately purchasing at the same rate as all online shoppers.”

It’s a Tablet World After All

We’ve explored here in depth the emergence of tablets. Sure, Apple’s numbers may have been down a bit because of a lack of innovation lately. The IDC reported last month tablet sales in general were down almost 10% over the last two quarters.  

However, the same IDC sales figures showed Android tablets booming, as a plethora of new Samsung, Nexus, Kindle Fire and other devices come about. Android sales have rocketed 163% in the course of a year, while Apple sales have dropped 14% with only the arrival of the iPad mini among modest upgrades. 

No matter the vendor, tablets are earning more of potential customers’ digital time, according to Dawson. In her #SMWA presentation, she reported that digital media use has increased 65% since 2010.

Learning Opportunities

“At AOL, we try to get ahead of this,” she said.

Tablets, she said, are becoming the “perfect device for shopping,” and its end users, her research showed, are savvy shoppers. They look for great deals. Free shipping. It's almost a challenge, a game. 

“They also use shopping as therapy,” Dawson told the conference audience.          

Message to Marketers

So what to do about shopper experiences with tablets and capitalize with strong digital marketing campaigns? Go beyond the actual transaction itself, Dawson said.

“The message for marketers is that ... if we focus only on the transaction we’re kind of missing the point of tablet shopping,” Dawson told us in our CMSWire video chat.

And the “path to purchase” for tablet shoppers, Dawson added, “is really through that discovery process and exploration.”

Dawson said she uses a “barbell” method to balance analytics and big data with human insights and expert marketer research. That message is important for large companies and even small ones who have a large amount of data to process.

“When you’re trying to understand a human motivation, it’s hard to get out of the big data,” Dawson told us. “On the other hand, it’s so incredibly precise, and the volumes are so huge that you can really get a lot of great information if you know what questions to ask. And I think a market research discipline can help you not only ask those questions but understand what the questions you should be asking are.”