“Will mobile strategy ever mean more than squeezing everything into a small screen?”
There is no doubt that mobile continues to grow in importance. With 5.2 billion mobile users, mobile now reaches 73 percent of the world’s population, surpassing the growth in overall Internet usage. It’s also now our favorite screen – mobile occupies 51% of our overall screen time, above desktops, tablets and other internet connected devices. Most marketers, including those working for B2B or professional services organizations, no longer harbor any doubt about the importance of creating a vibrant mobile experience for their businesses.
However, even as marketers across the globe work to establish their mobile presence, there is still uncertainty about where mobile is headed. Treating mobile as a truly strategic mode of communication requires a better understanding of how it will evolve, and how it will coordinate with and contribute to a broader digital program.
In my recent webinar, I tracked the development of an effective mobile strategy across three key phases: The Squeeze, Mobile Moments and Post-Mobile. Understanding where you are in these phases can point out what you need to do today, and how you can plan for the future.
Phase 1: The Squeeze
With the rise of the iPhone and Android platforms in 2007, the first phase of mobile strategy focused primarily on the operational aspects of a creating a mobile experience. This phase tends to focus on three core areas:
- Responsive Design – Prior to this concept’s arrival in 2010, the two main options for mobile design were a dedicated mobile site or a platform app. Neither option was ideal: dedicated mobile sites tend to reduce functionality, resulting in a fragmented user experience and complicated data entry. So-called platform apps (iOS, Android, Blackberry) offer better interactivity, but are hampered by poor engagement metrics and the need for frequent updates. Five years later, the consensus is that responsive design is currently the only choice for websites that are primarily driven by content – which includes most marketing-driven sites.
- Performance – With the arrival of broadband, many thought we left our concerns about speed behind. The rise of mobile has made performance more important than ever. 75 percent of users will abandon a site that takes longer than 4 seconds to load. Leading marketers now pay close attention to the performance of their sites, and can use tools like Google PageSpeed Insights, Webpage Test and Pingdom to measure how user’s experience their sites on mobile devices.
- SEO – On 21 April, 2015, Google released a major update in intended to improve search for mobile users – and the response was so intense that many started calling it ‘Mobilegeddon.’ The change prioritized “mobile friendly” in search results performed on a mobile device, and it’s having a real effect. According to some estimates, non-mobile sites have suffered almost a 10 percent drop in traffic since the update. Luckily, Google provides in-depth guidance on how to ensure a mobile friendly experience, with responsive design and fast performance as key pillars.
Your organization should be working now to follow these three core best practices. Keep in mind, however, that precisely because these three areas are well known and understood, they are no longer ways to offer differentiation or innovation to your organization. For that, you will need to look ahead.
Phase 2: Mobile Moments
Mobile moment: a point in time when someone pulls out a mobile device to get what he or she wants immediately, in context. – The Mobile Mind Shift
We are now entering a phase of mobile strategy that approaches mobile not as a device or channel, but as a context with its own unique opportunities. Strategic marketers are moving beyond how to get messages in front of mobile users, and are now focusing on the where, why, what, and how of mobile interactions in their own right. They know that to take the most advantage of their mobile investment, they need a better understanding of the user’s context.
Valid contexts for mobile strategy are really any aspects of the user’s mindset that impacts what they are trying to accomplish and how they want to interact. Examples of contexts that are especially relevant in the B2B and professional services industries are date and time, location, activity, and relationships.
A good understanding of these contexts is how leading marketers are now identifying the best ways to differentiate their programs and draw users more deeply into the experience they are creating.
The shift in phase is essentially one from operations to design. It encourages you to approach your marketing efforts from a user-centric, design-centric point of view by letting the natural progress of Ideation-Design-Engineering-Analyze to guide how you create and operate your digital marketing efforts.
Phase 3: Post-Mobile Continuity
As we look ahead into the next phase of mobile strategy, we can look to the maturing of other digital concepts as a guide. For example, it’s obvious to most that we no longer talk about “the Internet” as we did in the late 90’s or early 00’s. Statements like “I can use The Internet to solve that problem” now seem charmingly antiquated, but it’s not because the Internet has ceased to exist or stopped being important. Rather, we don’t “internet” any more because we are “internetting” everywhere, all the time.
The pervasiveness of mobile will ultimately lead to similar inflection point. What direction will mobile take, once we no longer talk about it “as a thing.” We predict that mobile strategy will shift in focus to cross-platform continuity: seamless interactions that are connected with all other online and offline activity.
There are early examples of effective digital continuity in action. Devices like Kindle and Audible, for example, allow you to consume content across multiple devices concurrently, including mobile, tablet, desktop, and web. More importantly, as you switch devices they will consistently guide you to where you left off on the last platform. Apple’s Handoff feature takes this even one step further, allowing you to easily and seamlessly transition complex interactions like phone calls, text messages, email, web browsing, and even document editing from one device to the next. The continuity of these mobile experiences allows you to stop thinking about “mobile” as a special mode of interaction, and instead guides you focus on the specific activity or content.
The jury is still out on best practices for building a mobile strategy that utilizes continuity, but forward-thinking organizations are creating the necessary infrastructure with foundations in UX and strategy, brand and design, and technology and platforms. These companies are utilizing original ethnographic research, experience-based design and user-centric technology to transform mobile into an overall brand experience.
Although mobile strategy has become table stakes for B2B marketing, there is plenty of room for growth. Understanding how to approach mobile communications within context of the user will set marketers up for the most success.
For more insights on creating a mobile strategy in a post-mobile world, watch the full One North webinar here.