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24/7 Dependence: I’ll Bet Your Smartphone is Within Arm’s Reach Right Now

By Stewart Gandolf, Chief Executive Officer

Phone screen displaying "healthcare" textHave you ever felt uncomfortable--a little jittery, perhaps--because you forgot your Smartphone? Is your Smartphone within reach right now?

American Society has become immediate communications centric, and there's valuable marketing lesson in this "device addiction." Here’s how hospital and healthcare professionals can get in front of this trend.

Poring over marketing numbers as we often do, we find that nearly everyone has a cell phone. About 87 percent of US adults, according to Pew Internet. No surprise there. (Not to mention that some folks have more than one cell phone.)

But stick with me, the stats get more interesting as we peel this onion. It seems that nearly half (45 percent) of cellular subscribers are Smartphone owners. Another source (IDC Research) says that about half the total American population uses Smarphones. And that is projected to grow to 68 percent  by 2017.

Now here’s were the numbers become even more amazing: Better than 90 percent of all Smartphone users say they have their phones within reach 24 hours a day, seven days a week. (Morgan Stanley)

Let that sink in for a minute. With numbers exceeding nine out of 10 people, within arm’s reach, Smartphones aren’t just popular, the consumer public depends on mobile devices. And, unlike other media, marketers can be connected to this audience virtually all the time.

Consider the IDC Research finding that four out of five Smartphone users check their phones within the first 15 minutes of waking up. Eighty percent of those say it’s the first thing they do in the morning. Some might say we’re addicted to them. Obsessed? The average person takes 26 hours to report a lost wallet, but they will report a lost phone in only 68 minutes. [Unisys]

And this doesn’t account for tablet computers…31 percent of American adults own one of those mobile devices. Tablets are on track to outsell PCs this year, and overtake laptops next year. (IDC Research)

The traditional label of “Smartphone” is a misnomer.

Maybe they should be called “Ever-Present, Always Connected, Pocket Computers” (EPACPC). “Smartphone” is not a good fit considering the device does far more other than make/receive phone calls. (We promise to re-think the EPACPC tag.)

It’s the Internet that brings the “smarts” to the phone and that’s mainly what drives our near-addiction love affair. About 55 percent of adult cell owners use the Internet on their mobile phones. And better than 30 percent  of users go online via their cell phone (and not using a desktop or laptop).

In addition to the ability to make phone calls and connect to the Internet, our “device dependence” provides a number of important considerations for hospital and healthcare marketing. These include:

IT'S IMMEDIATE: Pew Research calls it “just in time” information, and about 62 percent of the entire population has done one or more of the following immediate functions via Smartphone.

    • Coordinate a meeting or get-together
    • Solve an unexpected problem that they or someone else had encountered
    • Decide whether to visit a business, such as a restaurant
    • Find information to help settle an argument
    • Look up a score of a sporting event
    • Get up-to-the-minute traffic or public transit information
    • Get help in an emergency

What’s more, it takes 90 minutes for the average person to respond to an email, according to CTIA.org, but the average person responds to a text message in 90 seconds.

IT'S CONVENIENT: The constantly-available pocket device enables anyone to connect with anyone at anytime. Better than half of the population is reliant on being connected and engaged from anywhere they happen to be at that moment.

IT'S ENABLING: Nearly three-quarters of all mobile searches, according to Borrell Associates research, leads to a near-term action. In short, when mobile users search for something, 70 percent of the time they are ready to learn, buy, call, visit or take some action right away.

Other surveys reflect similar results. Nine out of 10 mobile searches lead to action, over half leading to purchase. [Search Engine Land] Google says 61 percent of local searches on a mobile phone result in a phone call. In marketing terms, the mobile user lead-to-sale conversion cycle takes only a moment.

Mobile marketing and leveraging the unprecedented connectivity of Smartphones should be a priority for hospital and healthcare communications professionals. “Smartphones have revolutionized how we communicate, socialize, share and connect,” IDC reports.

It’s a clear and present mainstream shift that will continue to grow. “As more mobile devices—even beyond Smartphones—are adopted, social, sharing and communications will expand even further than where we are today, enabling people to engage, discover and interact in wholly new ways.

RELATED READING: The Mobile Tipping Point: Optimize Your Healthcare Site or Vanish and 4.2 Billion Toothbrushes and your Mobile Marketing Strategy is Missing.

Stewart Gandolf, MBA

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