It's Called a Smartphone, So Let's Be Smart

Written by Neil Miller, CEO of POSSIBLE London. 

This has undoubtedly been the year mobile reached the top of most marketers worry list. The concern is usually something like, "Will our web experience work on mobile?" And this is where things start to fall down.

Most businesses creating a mobile strategy start their thought process from what they have already – a web strategy. But the problem is mobile is not web, it’s mobile. Website browsing (while vitally important) is only a small part of the picture.

For instance, 89% of Facebook use is now via mobile, more than half of Google search is through mobile and 50% of global YouTube video views are on mobile.

Mobile is fast becoming the driving force for social engagement and content consumption and yet brands are still holding onto the behaviours of a desktop legacy.

Mobile Is a Behaviour, Not a Device

Consider this. Our relationship with mobile is far deeper and more personal than with desktop computing. The level of personal utility and connectivity that we take everywhere with us has become an irreversibly embedded in our modern lives.

Yes this is a big statement, but it’s true. The level of anxiety any of us experience when we realise we are without our phones is testimony to this and the same has never been true of our relationship with desktop computers.

With this in mind, it seems senseless to establish a strategy for mobile based on the behaviours of old. New behaviours demand new solutions at a rapid pace of change. For many marketers it likely feels that getting the mobile web site working is a serious achievement, let alone keeping up with the constant updates of what’s possible.

But it’s worth it. Understanding mobile behaviours and creating solutions that fit them can provide real returns. Back in July 2012, Google reported 67% of consumers are more likely to purchase if the mobile site experience is good, while 61% said they would leave a mobile site if they didn’t immediately find what they were looking for.

Get experience right and win big. Get it wrong, lose big. It’s really that dramatic.

The Power of Mobile

It’s time for brands to take the plunge and hit reset on their digital strategies to put mobile first.

If we look at data from China, where mobile for many consumers has been their first experience of connection to the internet, we can gain valuable insights into the likely behaviours we’re heading towards.

The numbers are staggering.

For example, 47% of China’s population have smartphones, compared to 62% of UK consumers using smartphones. And even though the usage is lower by comparison, mobile internet in China represents a huge 86% of all internet users.

But it’s not only usage, ecommerce too is rapidly moving to mobile. In fact, mobile commerce is set to account for 50% of all Chinese ecommerce this year, representing an 85% increase on 2014.

So the signal to UK marketers is clear, 2016 will be the year that mobile will redefine the competitive landscape for consumer experience.

Two Things To Do Now

Firstly, ensure that your mobile strategy puts your consumer’s behaviours first. Ensure you really understand how their life operates, taking into consideration where they go, what they do and when they do it.

Consider all the ways that mobile can add value to how they live and how to make life easier through mobile.

A great example of a brand doing this is the First Tracks app from skiwear brand Helly Hansen. It’s designed around knowing how important it is for skiers to get up early to catch first tracks on fresh snow days.

The app tracks your location in the mountains and wakes you up early based on the local overnight snowfall. Simple, effortless and a highly valued utility.

The second thing to do now is to think broader. Don’t think of mobile in terms of just web sites, think of full mobile platform capabilities. As the Helly Hansen example shows, a native app can introduce new roles for your brand in ways a web site could never do.

Thinking about mobile broadly to include search, games, connected devices, geo-location and commerce integration can help you break out of the old desktop habits and allow your mobile strategy to become as smart as the phone it’s designed for.

Article originally published on BrandRepublic.

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