Mobile First: Marketing to the Mobile Consumer

mobile is king
Image courtesy of Brad Frost

Every year pundits predict the rise of mobile marketing and advocate for a mobile first marketing strategy. And every year the impact of mobile marketing disappoints. This year, things are different.

Mobile is king!

Long live the king!

Why mobile first?

Duh. Look around you. Everyone is glued to their mobile devices 100% of their waking hours. Even little kids and old folks are on their smartphones and tablets. Mobile devices replaced cameras, MP3 players, date books, watches and a bunch of other devices we used to haul around in our purses and briefcases.

Data from Mobithinking shows the impact of mobile technology on your market performance.

  • There are over 1.2 billion mobile web users worldwide
  • In the U.S., 25% of mobile Web users are mobile-only (they rarely use a desktop to access the web)
  • Mobile apps have been downloaded 10.9 billion time
  • Mobile device sales are increasing across the board with over 85 percent of new handsets able to access the mobile Web

Pew offers more insights on why your firm needs a mobile first marketing strategy:

  • 90% of American adults have a cell phone
  • 58% of American adults have a smartphone
  • 42% of American adults own a tablet computer
  • 30 % used a mobile device to decide whether to visit a business, such as a restaurant

CMI (Content Marketing Institute) reports a 10% higher bounce rate on mobile devices, highlighting the failure of marketers to write mobile first content.

And with an every-growing number of apps, mobile devices replace your credit card, monitor your health and home, remotely record your favorite shows and become even more indispensable devices always at hand.

Mobile first marketing strategy

But, not everyone is convinced that we live in a mobile first world. You’ll still run into firms running a separate mobile site or having a responsive site that just doesn’t work for the consumer. And, you have every big brand (and even many smaller brands) creating a mobile app that doesn’t provide any more functionality than their mobile site.

You can see this gap when you compare mobile traffic versus mobile sales with mobile accounting for 30% of web traffic, but only 15% of sales. Wow, that means your mobile strategy only delivers 50% of the ROI of your other digital strategies.

Now, maybe some reduced ROI can be blamed on something other than the mobile marketing strategy, such as buying offline after searching on a mobile device, but unquestionably, a significant ROI drop comes from the failure of the mobile marketing strategy.

For instance, I recently worked with a client to find an optimal computer for his needs. I searched HPs mobile site, but was told I couldn’t customize the PC on a mobile device, but needed to use a desktop to complete my order. In other situations, I am offered the full site for certain tasks the mobile site can’t handle. — Mobile Strategy Fail.

But, mobile apps aren’t the solution to mobile first needs. Many apps are just an excuse and are used instead of a mobile site to avoid Google penalties for sites that don’t display on mobile devices. And, consumers don’t want 100s of apps on their phones and tablets. According to TechCrunch, the average user has 65 apps installed on their device (out of the 500K on iOS and 300K on Android), but only use about 15 of these on a routine basis.

Challenges of developing mobile user strategy

Today, at the Modev UX (user experience) conference, I heard Matt Kesler, Lead Engineer at CapTech talk about creating a great mobile user experience. He identified these problems among developers, but the same problems exist among marketers who don’t understand the basics of user experience so they can’t create a sound mobile first marketing strategy.

Communication and redundancy

Marketers aren’t part of the user experience. As marketers, we don’t understand user experience, which is housed in the IT area rather than the marketing function. Certainly, user experience involves a lot of coding that marketers don’t need to understand, but marketers understand consumers. There needs to be better communication between UX developers and marketers to ensure developers create a killer UX that solve consumer problems.

Marketers also need to help test UX with real customers to identify problems and take them back to developers to fix.

Visual inconsistencies

While branding is a lot more than just visual elements, visual inconsistencies between mobile, apps, and desktop displays damage your branding efforts.

Crafting a mobile first marketing strategy

Just like in developing the platforms and UX, mobile first marketing means crafting your mobile strategy, then moving on to expand that strategy to the enhanced functionality of a desktop platform.

  •  Recognize the importance of mobile UX on solving consumer problems. When consumers are mobile, they’re likely looking for more immediate solutions than when they’re on a desktop. So, on my mobile device, I’m more interested in finding a restaurant near me than finding an infinite list of restaurants. If I go to your restaurant page, I probably want to know where the nearest location is and a link to a map to get directions.
  • Mobile devices keep us from being bored. When you’re waiting for the bus or at the doctor’s office, we’re likely turning to our mobile device, not the old magazines or newspapers around. Go to a bar. You’ll find many glued to their small screens rather than making eye contact with the cute guy (girl). So, entertainment is a major factor in getting users to visit your mobile site or download your app. Video content is particularly appealing on mobile (despite increasing charges for data on many mobile providers). According to Nielsen, 28% of users watch video on their phones at least 1/ day.
  • Match your conversion goals to a small screen. Filling out a form is challenging on a phone. So, make it easy for users to subscribe or download your white paper by integrating with existing social networks so they fill out the necessary information automatically.
  • Remember that mobile devices are touch, not click. If you’re elements are too close together, users get frustrated because even those with small fingers can’t select the desired option.

Need more advice on creating a mobile first marketing strategy, take a look at the infographic below.

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Hausman and Associates, the publisher of Hausman Marketing Letter, is a full service marketing agency operating at the intersection of marketing and digital media.

mobile first marketing

Image courtesy of Unified Social