The fact that more than half of all internet traffic now happens on mobile or tablet devices should be evidence enough that mobile needs to be at the very top of all UK brands’ digital to do list.
But, as my colleague Jason Warde recently highlighted in his blog What Does “Digital” Really Mean For Your Business?, it’s all good and well knowing what to do, but it’s an entirely new challenge actually making it happen.
Why We Love It So
The appeal of mobile to users is its non-interruptive and non-intrusive nature. It allows people to get on with their real lives whilst easily blending in aspects of their digital lives without any friction.
Most people now wouldn’t think twice about using their mobile (and the tools loaded onto it) to send an important email while sat on public transport or check their bank balance in the queue at the sales. It’s second nature.
Mobile apps have revolutionised the way we interact with digital tools - merging our on and offline worlds. Keeping in touch with friends, buying goods, booking trips away and even consuming entertainment (thanks to Netflix and the like) are now achievable on the move, online, thanks to the advancement of mobile technology.
As a result our reliance on a PC plugged into the wall at home or work is now almost negligible.
The Stats Don’t Lie
- In May 2015, Google said more searches were happening on mobile than on desktop
- Global mobile ad spend is set to reach $100 billion in 2016, accounting for over 50% of all digital ad spend for the first time ever
- The UK is ranked 16th worldwide in terms of mobile usage - and is the third most connected country in Europe
- 2015 is set to be the year when more tablets are sold than PCs (classed as desktops and laptops)
- Google now consider a mobile website a key component of a great search / digital experience
- Transactions on mobile devices are set to exceed $3.2 trillion in value in 2017
- There are 83.1m mobile phones in use in the UK - but only 64.1m people living here
The challenge for companies and brands is how to minimise consumers' readiness to move on to competitors if they don't find what they're looking for quickly. The immediacy of consumers’ needs via mobile - checking prices of goods while they’re stood in a shop for example - spells danger for anyone who's mobile strategy isn’t up to scratch.
In his examination of decreasing customer loyalty in the digital age, Steven Van Belleghem asserts that his number one reason for customer disloyalty is firms failing to keep up with consumer expectations. “Customers don’t care that the service they are receiving is better than it was a year ago – they use other ‘best-in-class’ companies as a benchmark” says Steven.
And he’s right. Think of a consumer comparing your digital presence with that of Facebook. They don’t consider how far you come or your development or design spend or UX research capability against that of the social media bohemoth (10th on Forbes’ list of the World Most Valuable Brands).
Even though Facebook going down was front page news in September of this year, user see a product that works brilliantly the vast majority of the time and compare it - favourably or unfavourably, fairly or otherwise - against yours.
Of course, for every threat that exists there is an opportunity. Competitors of those failing with their mobile tools will rightly smell a chance to grow their business and market share. And good luck to them.
How to Protect Your Business via a Robust Mobile Strategy
In order to take the fight to your competitors in the mobile world you must first plan:
Define Your Objectives
Before your business can begin to implement any type of mobile strategy, you need to discover what the point of it will be. What are the company’s wider objectives and how can mobile help you to achieve those? Who will own the mobile strategy and what will its focus be - reputation, customer service, m-commerce? You know your business best and discovering a focus for your mobile strategy is a must.
Put Customers First
People - and their habits, behaviour and needs - will always determine how you as a business can reach them. This is why mobile has become so important for connecting and engaging everyone and everything, everywhere. It’s the place where you will find most of your customers and most of your competitor’s customers too.
You must try to bend your business processes to their habits in relation to mobile, not the other way round. Think how the banking sector has responded to customers needs in a mobile landscape with online banking. A large proportion of consumers now routinely access their finances through mobile means as a result of the banking industry's effort to recognise customers needs and desires.
Take UX Centre Stage
Whether you go with a mobile site or an application to achieve your goals, a user’s experience when interacting with your brand is vital. Famously, Amazon’s CEO Jeff Bezos spent nothing on advertising in the company’s first year in business, preferring to spend everything he could on the customer’s experience.
Make the Most of Multi Screen
According to recent research 87% of consumers use more than one device at a time, with worldwide stats pointing to the smartphone being the most frequent “companion device”. This should feed into marketing campaign planning with device, location and time of day key factors in your activities and messaging.
71% of consumers will make a purchase after reading a referral on social media, and the networks are also a great place to listen and monitor your audience with a huge range of tools available to fully take advantage of this.
And Don't Discount Email
Contrary to popular belief, email marketing isn’t dead. In fact, according to Mailchimp three quarters of marketers they interviewed in 2015 agree that email marketing is “core” to their activities. With 72% of US online adults receiving personal emails via a smartphone at least once a week, it’s clear that email and mobile must be dovetailed neatly to achieve sales targets.
The key factor here is that mobile isn't a trend. The increasing availability of the smartphone and the advancement in wifi and 4G technology (with 5G not too far away), means that in the near future mobile won't be a method of internet access, it will BE internet access.
Gone are the days of mobiles being used for calls and texts - they are almost secondary tasks now even just a couple of years into the real proliferation of the smartphone. It is the responsibility of brands - with the support of companies like ours who serve them - to recognise the risk of not reacting quickly enough to this huge shift in consumer habit and business interaction.