Using Smartwatches to Join Marketing’s Vanguard

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This post is the latest in our “Beyond the Screen” series. It will be an editorial focus for the month of February, and you can see the rest of the series here

As brand marketers push their strategies beyond the screen, they’re looking down at the watches on consumers’ wrists. Smartwatches have popped up as the next big battleground for marketers. Smartwatch manufacturers like Apple, Samsung, Fitbit, and others are seeing a surge in interest in brand partnerships and other consumer marketing opportunities.

Spending on wearables is predicted to hit $52 billion this year, according to forecasts from the research firm Gartner, and spending on smartwatches specifically is expected to increase by 24%. Smartwatches represent the merging of physical and virtual worlds, and they provide marketers with a direct line for reaching consumers.

Here are five examples of how tech-savvy brands can put smartwatches to work and develop better strategies to take full advantage of the new opportunities that exist for reaching consumers through these wearable devices.

Develop (useful) branded apps

Almost anyone can create a smartwatch app. Getting people to use it is the challenge.

From a brand marketing perspective, the best smartwatch apps are ones that provide real value to the consumer. For example, a restaurant chain might develop an app with a tipping calculator. Or, a fitness brand could launch a smartwatch app that tracks calories and exertion.

One of the earliest examples of this strategy was Rosé Time, an Apple Watch app created by Airship for the Cannes Lions festival in 2015. Although developing this kind of app from the ground up can be expensive, the potential upside is significant if the value proposition is there.

Partner with smartwatch makers

For fitness-focused brands like Under Armour and Nike, the benefits of partnering with smartwatch makers on co-branded projects are clear.

The Galaxy Watch Active 2 Under Armour Edition features a heart-rate monitor, calorie tracker, and distance tracker. It also uses data collected through the watch’s sensors to customize coaching and training plans. The watch works best when paired with Under Armour’s specialty HOVR shoes, which is really where this strategy shines from a cross-selling and up-selling perspective.

Build a notification strategy

It takes significantly less effort for someone to glance at their wrist than to pull an iPhone out of their pocket or purse. Because smartwatches enable consumers to take immediate action, brands have started sending targeted notifications to consumers based on their real-time locations.

This strategy is even more effective when it’s paired with in-store beacons. For example, Coca-Cola could send shoppers a coupon for its products when they enter the soda aisle, or Johnson & Johnson could send a promotion to consumers when they enter a pharmacy.

Shorten email subject lines

People consume content differently on smartwatches than they do on traditional computers or smartphones. With 25% of smartwatch owners using their devices to check emails every day, it’s important that brands design their email marketing messages to be read on tiny screens.

Keep subject lines short. Apple Watch truncates email subject lines at approximately 16 characters. Other devices have similar limits. Keep in mind that anything longer than that limit might not be seen, and adjust your strategies accordingly.

Get rid of the website clutter

Where are people directed when they click on links in your marketing emails and push notifications?

The websites to which brands link should be clear of any elements that might cause pages to display incorrectly on smartwatch screens. Most mobile-friendly design lends itself to smartwatch displays, but savvy marketers should be sure to check how their websites are displaying on the Apple Watch and other popular smartwatch devices.

Stephanie Miles is a senior editor at Street Fight.Rainbow over Montclair

Stephanie Miles is a journalist who covers personal finance, technology, and real estate. As Street Fight’s senior editor, she is particularly interested in how local merchants and national brands are utilizing hyperlocal technology to reach consumers. She has written for FHM, the Daily News, Working World, Gawker, Cityfile, and Recessionwire.