When Someone’s Preference is Another's Requirement

Remember when it was surprising to learn that someone didn't have a landline phone? The "mobile-only" early adopters were objects of wonder: what if your battery dies? What if you experience a network outage? What if you lose it? Only a decade ago, landlines seemed an essential part of the home. Arranging a room for available electrical outlets and available phone jacks was an ordinary occurrence.

That seems silly now. Roughly half my friends and acquaintances are mobile-only and I must admit that I dust my landline handset more often than I use it. Which brings me to a startling new statistic: a recent study from comScore found that 18 percent of millennials (ages 18 to 34) are mobile-only web users.

In other words, these folks only access the web via mobile devices. Not desktops. And it occurred to me that this is the same phenomenon all over again. Young people don't see desktop computers as luxuries. They see them the same way I looked at my parents' wall-mounted telephone in the kitchen. It was an object of utility, not wonder or awe.

This brings me to my last and most important point. For a mobile-only phone or web user, certain marketing communications preferences aren't really preferences. They are requirements.

When necessary, a company must be able to deliver marketing messages to a mobile device and must do so in responsively designed formats or the mobile-only customer will move on. Not only because they feel ignored but also because of self-imposed limitations on what they access.

A company unable to collect that preference, one that clumsily blasts mobile-only web users with email marketing that can't adjust to screen size, will be every bit as anachronistic as the companies that required a listed home phone to complete a purchase or reservation.

Oftentimes, preference management isn't just about preferences. It's about giving customers the power to direct a company to where it must go in order to be heard at all.

About the Author: 
Rob Tate is the Director of Enterprise Sales at PossibleNOW.

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