Usage is up: 242% increase over 5 years to 29 minutes a day per person (Ofcom in Jul 2012)
Rich, functional experiences: 51.3% of consumers are using a Smartphone in the UK, up 17% in one year (Dec 2010 - Dec 2011, comScore MobiLens)
Increased trust to transact over mobile: a 584% increase in mobile ecommerce is forecasted between 2010 and 2012 (internetretailing.net).
The technology super-powers understand the implications of these changes best, and over the last 24 months we’ve seen Google, Yahoo, Facebook, and many others re-align their businesses to a mobile first strategy.
A mobile first strategy is an understanding that consumers are increasingly integrating their online activity with their physical existence - smartphones being the enabling catalyst. This significantly changes consumer behaviour, as they discover, learn, and buy in a mobile-experience prior to a physical world experience.
Consider buying carpet, something particularly un-exciting.
If you were a carpet retailer, you would typically set up a physical shop with samples of your range to allow consumers to visit your store to browse your collection, look at colour samples and place an order.
However, a mobile first experience would allow the consumer to browse your collection on their mobile, whilst standing in the room that needs to be carpeted. They could choose a style and colour, select the quantity for a real-time quote, view lead times on delivery, and make a purchase decision on the spot. Sure, they may also want to visit your store to feel the actual product, but the decision process will have already happened, and if that process was with a competitor, you would have lost that customer before you could even demonstrate your superior product in-store.
Don’t just throw money at the problem
Building a mobile app or mobile website is not enough in itself. It’s like building your carpet store in the middle of the jungle. Your mobile experience will fail if you don’t have a solid strategy of how you:
1) Acquire users on your digital channels (e.g. using SEO, advertising, referrals, social media etc.)
2) Retain and build regularity of contact with your consumer base, so that they remember who you are, understand what’s happening with your brand, and grow a sense of relationship and trust with your brand.
3) Convert those consumers to your business goals (e.g. product sales)
Mobile has an important part to play in these goals, however you should draw from social media and online to prop up your end-to-end experience. For example, social media is great for acquisition, however half the time the user will want to click through to an online-experience, which in turn is terrible for retention. So you need to convert that online experience across to a social media “follower”, subscription or app install.
Something to aim for
6 things to focus on when designing your mobile-first experiences:
1. Reduced engagement cycle: Create a fast changing / limited depth experience, to generate regular, light user interactions resulting in regular face-time with the consumer. Do not saturate them with so much content that it negates their need to engage again in a short amount of time. Target consumer interaction within every 2-4 weeks.
2. Long term retention / loyalty: Get an app installed on the user device. In doing so you will achieve face-time with the user until the user decides to disengage and actively delete your app. Identify how to make sure your mobile proposition is one the user elects NOT to delete (don’t spam them!).
3. Communication: Mobile is the device of choice for communication in that it is always available and allows for real-time, bi-directional communication. Communicate regular, relevant and timely information to consumers, to build an informed set of users acting as a foundation for all your future initiatives.
4. User-generated distribution: Mobile is transitioning from an information tool to an engagement device with users engaging in new, long-lived ways (interactions that may take multiple days to complete). Integrate social media into this process to leverage your user engagement to raise awareness of your brand within your users’ social circles.
5. Optimised call to action: Your mobile app is with your consumer at their point of need, when you market to them and when they engage you. Your app should facilitate your call to actions, increasing your ability to transition users to the next level of engagement, which could be a store visit, a sale or the distribution of content on behalf of your brand.
6. Financial return: While it should not be the sole driver of your app, your app should be financially contributing toward your business by way of production promotion, increase of customer base through user distribution, and breaking down barriers to completion of sale.
This is important—ignoring mobile could be fatal. Consider:
· What does a mobile version of your business look like?
· What is your digital strategy to ensure it’s a success?
· Does your mobile proposition deliver you everything it should?
With 12 years experience advising strategy to banks, telcos, retail and pharma, Phil now helps brands leverage changes in consumer behaviour towards new forms of digital, to deliver brand growth. Phil is the MD of 5 Star Lives digital consultancy & development and also txt2 UK Ltd, a new mobile payments business. Phil is a regular contributor to AppBeat.co.uk a mobile industry monitor, where you can find further content from him.