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Multiple Mobile Mind-Sets and User Personas in the Digital Age

Just who do you think you are?

Adrian Niederhaeuser/Shutterstock

As consumers, we’ve become very greedy. Mobile has given us the expectation that we can have it all, digital data on demand, wherever and whenever we want it. Tablet, smartphone, whatever, just connect me and make it work like a PC. If I want to shop at Macy’s, then I expect Macy’s to know me and give me a personalized experience.

But hold on — what about privacy? I mean, I want brands to know me, but I don’t want them to know me. We’re living in an age of multiple mobile mindsets, where consumers quite simply want their cake and want to eat it — twice. And they can pretty much have it, too.

Recently, TNS conducted its Connected Life 2014 study into mobile behavior, which described how consumer behaviors fragment as digital ecosystems grow and they begin to make purchasing decisions using multiple devices and channels. Consumers select the device, channel or touchpoint that’s right for them, based on the context they’re in and their specific need. It’s no surprise to learn that, globally, 41 percent of Internet users watching TV will also be doing something else at the same time.

It’s in part fueled by an embarrassment of technological riches — smartphones, tablets, phablets, connected televisions and wearable devices — offering consumers a myriad of ways in which they can consume mobile data. The average Internet user has 3.6 different devices. With such an influx of technologies, each different in terms of its functionality, the ways in which visitors can engage and the contexts in which they experience the Web are seemingly boundless. This leads to multiple mobile mind-sets or personas, essentially online personalities which encapsulate how mobile users are interacting with the Web, and why they behave the way they do.

These mobile personas take into account the device being used, time of day, user’s location, connection type, bandwidth capability and screen size, right through to the touch interface being used by that consumer. These complex personas offer us a way of trying to understand how such a demanding yet savvy audience thinks about their mobile experience.

For example, morning commuters with iPhones, using intermittent 3G while on the train to work, will make very different choices about the websites they access and the type of experience they want than when they are at home that evening on tablets with Wi-Fi access. Similarly, I may quickly browse Internet banking on my smartphone during lunch, or search the Web for shopping suggestions, but I am unlikely to make a loan application or make a lengthy checkout purchase, because screen size and touchscreen are two immediate barriers to me completing the tasks thoroughly.

So, who are you? A caffeine commuter, a lunchtime browser, a sofa surfer, a night owl, maybe an evening networker? Chances are, you’re possibly all of the above, or that your mobile mind-set or persona changes dramatically throughout the course of 24 hours. All this talk of dual personalities is enough to give you a complex, yet who we are and how we act based on our device and context is becoming increasingly important, especially for brands that, quite rightly, see mobile as a panacea for their problems.

For those in marketing, mobile personas are a tool for the hunter, offering ways to segment and catalogue behaviors before targeting visitors in a certain way. But understanding the complexity behind mobile mindsets does at least offer an opportunity of striking a balance between delivering a personalized experience and understanding that individual user behaviors, wants and needs are not a fixed concept and can change dramatically depending on where I am, what I’m doing and the device I may be using.

Daniel Weisbeck is COO/CMO of Netbiscuits, which provides mobile analytics and device detection solutions to help profile mobile traffic, increase conversion, and deliver more personalized Web content to every device. Previously, he served as vice president of marketing for the EMEA region at Polycom; he also helped build the strategic vision of new and existing business for companies such as Corel, VisionTe and 3dfx. Reach him @Daniel_Weisbeck.

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