As of early October 2014, there were more mobile devices on the planet than people. Considering that mobile phones only date to 1973 and smartphones only date to about 2007, that’s an insanely rapid growth rate — and it’s affecting everything.
Comedian Aziz Ansari has a section in his new book (Modern Romance) about how people now lead “real lives” (with their families, friends, and work obligations) and “phone lives” (with the content on their devices). Those lives aren’t the same.
For most people, this “phone life” is centered around apps. Most companies, products, services, and organizations have apps — as of July 2015, there were about 1.6 million Android apps available, and about 1.5 million in Apple’s store.
But there are a few fundamentally-flawed ways that companies are thinking about mobile these days. Let’s address a couple of those herein.
Mobile isn’t a silo
Many companies treat “mobile” as a silo, or have a group of people designed with owning the processes and products of mobile. (Unfortunately, many companies also do this with “digital.”) The problem is … mobile cannot be a silo. Look at the first sentence of this article and click the link if you’d like. There are more mobile phones on the planet than human beings. There’s a good chance that someone will research your business from their phone, or click from an e-mail on their phone to something related to your business. If it’s a terrible experience, they’ll click away and likely never return.
Many companies get caught up and confused in the digital/mobile revenue problem: the ROI isn’t always as immediately apparent as some more traditional marketing approaches. That is true, although it’s changing and some companies — i.e. Facebook as a notable example — are reaping huge amounts of money from mobile.
If your concern internally is that a focus on mobile/digital is taking resources away from more traditionally-profitable areas, try shifting your thinking this way: how much money could you be leaving on the table with a bad mobile experience for a client/customer/user? If Google Analytics is showing you that 200 people come into your site via mobile in a given day but 93% of them bounce, well, you can do the math there — if even a fraction of those people became customers/clients/users, that would represent growth. And as of now, you’re losing them.
In short, it isn’t a silo. It needs to be baked in and considered with everything you do.
The on-the-go is a lifestyle
If you think of the goal of marketing as getting a message out to as many people — or at least the right people — as possible, then consider this: what things do people traditionally not leave home without? For most people, it’s their phone, wallet, and keys. (‘PWK,’ which is a joke on Broad City.)
Well, it’s hard to market to someone’s keys — although you could argue FitBit and similar devices are a form of that. It’s hard to market directly to someone’s wallet (aside from business cards, and that requires an additional step). But you can market directly to their phone — via having an app or having a good mobile experience.
Here’s the dividing line there: as noted above, there are over a million apps in both major stores. There’s also a major 80-20 split with apps; most people download about 20-30 over time, and consistently use about 5-6. You can launch an app, but it’s hard to make yours stand out (not impossible, but hard — and hey, we can help you with that).
What you can control, though, is how people experience your product/service from their phone. Most content management systems have a mobile-friendly option that’s often as easy as checking a box (WordPress offers this).
A few weeks ago, we went to a small business expo with a series of vendors. One of the vendors was billing himself as a “marketing expert” and he had banners promising all sorts of things — turbo-charging our business, 8,200% growth, email list building, etc. Before we approached his table, we Googled him from our phone. His site wasn’t mobile-friendly at all. We instantly turned in the other direction and never went back. It’s hard to be a marketing expert if your online business card — i.e. your website — isn’t mobile-friendly.
Mobile isn’t a strategy
This is another issue at the enterprise level; people often call mobile “a strategy.” It’s not. Again, it’s a way of life for people now. Calling it a “strategy” implies there are set beginning/end dates, and there’s not. It needs to be part of everything you’re trying to do from a messaging and marketing and business development standpoint.
Almost 80 percent of the top news sites are getting more traffic from mobile, but only about 20 percent of them are seeing higher engagement. Why the gap? The experience is likely shoddy. This is a problem with thinking of mobile as “a strategy” rather than something you just do because it’s good business to please your customers however they want to get to your product.
The key to winning with mobile is to understand and put your user and their lifestyle first before the first pixel is pushed and the first word is created.
What challenges are you having connecting with the on-the-go user?