By Matt Pigott - March 23rd, 2015

Knee-jerk reactions to early consumer euphoria and jumping on the bandwagon may prove unprofitable in the long run.

In our previous post  about the Apple Watch, we discussed why it was imperative for marketers to stand up and take notice of the Apple Watch—or if not the watch itself, the potential for more personal marketing via wearables. Today, we'll take a deeper look into these possibilities, and how brands need to approach their first steps onto this brave new platform. To read the report in its entirety, head here.

Staying in with the ‘in’ crowd

For companies already established in the smartphone space, the real fear will be that—when they try to transpose their existing apps to AW and other smartwatches—they’ll misfire in some way and alienate their followers. For brands reliant on reaching consumers through connected devices, discussions about how best to start new relationships (as well as enhance ongoing ones) will involve a great deal of qualitative and quantitative analysis. But quantitative assessment will be difficult for a year or two, mainly due to the lack of relevant data. Until there’s enough user activity and subsequent information to draw meaningful conclusions, marketers will be forced to work on the basis of suppositions and hypotheses inevitably based on prior smartphone-use data. And who’s to say smartwatches will catch on anyway? If people don’t adopt, buy, and upgrade, any discussions about how best to connect, engage, and monetize will be irrelevant.

But let’s look at near-term probabilities: AW sales figures already look promising. Preorders for the watch eclipse the entirety of smartwatch sales for 2014 by a factor of nearly ten to one. If it’s true that the past informs the future, Apple sales will generate a pan-industry rising tide that not only lifts, but buoys the sales of other smartwatch brands. However, even if AW’s success is taken as given, marketers still need to ask some important questions about their role. Do our brand’s service/product/app dovetail with the AW smartwatch, and is it a platform we need to be on? Knee-jerk reactions to early consumer euphoria and jumping on the bandwagon may prove unprofitable in the long run. Especially if it turns out that marketing dollars would have been better spent elsewhere. However, if things appear to add up, then the key question for marketers should be: how do we go about creating a seamless cross-platform experience for users? Let’s not forget that current ‘wearable tech’ is an adjunct to other devices. Cross platform flexibility is the key challenge for brands who want to effectively reach consumers via AW.

Pushy wins

It’s widely accepted that AW will need to be more intuitive than the iPhone, with push notifications assuming a more active role in brand-to-user communications. Why notifications? Because they present information in a quasi-predictive way that makes app selection less of an imperative. One of the main challenges for both native and third party developers in the smartwatch sector will be to create content that’s personally relevant to the user, and delivered in a non-intrusive manner. That’s a complicated exercise. And it gets more complicated, because these notifications coexist on the same platform as text messages. A notification on an Apple Watch is a personal, intimate grab for your customers’ attention, indecipherable from that of a trusted friend.

When companies disseminate communications on a large-scale, the ‘tone of voice’ they use will be critical. Get the tone wrong, and brands could end up alienating the people they want to engage. Or, worse, the people they’re already engaged with. Timing is also critical; because AW is a ‘low friction’ user experience, it presents companies that are already in digital dialogue (with customers) the opportunity to reach them at times that might not have once been considered convenient—such as between locations, or while they’re waiting for the train. Choosing the right time to engage with the always-connected AW user will be as important as choosing the right tone in which to ‘speak’. If potluck hasn’t worked in the past, fresh data fed through the right algorithms could be the golden ticket for successful future engagement—but it’s a chicken and egg situation; first you need the data, and that will take time to gather.

To read the rest of the report and learn 1) how to make your marketing more useful, on Apple Watch or not and 2) how other companies plan to use this device, head here

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