Nielsen reported earlier this month that 40% of all US mobile phones are smart phones. It will not be long until the number of smartphones (iPhone, Android, BlackBerry, etc.) outnumber feature phones. With the tremendous increase in mobility for consumers and employees, developing a mobile strategy is becoming a critical need for every company. But developing a mobile strategy presents a challenge that other marketing or application strategies lack – the user is on the move. Mobile marketing is not only about the “what” but also about the “where”.
To begin developing a mobile strategy, consider four key questions:
- Where is your user when they need to interact with you?
- What are they looking for?
- What assets do you have in place and what needs to be created?
- What device are they using?
Let’s go through these one at a time.
Where is your user?
Location is a huge variable and a very important factor in developing a mobile strategy. By identifying your user and the possible locations they may need to interact, a proper solution can be designed. The user may be a customer, an employee, a sales rep or anyone else that interacts with you on the go. The user may be at home, at work, on vacation, in a car, standing on the street – just about anywhere. Identifying the primary areas where the user might be is the first step in developing a solution.
As an example, if you are a retail store owner, your primary user is your customer. Two places they are might be looking for information you have while on the go are at home/on the way to your store or while they are in your store. A second example is a mobile sales force. Mobility is part of their life and often they are using technology to interact with their customers. They are almost always out of the office meeting at client offices. Knowing the places where these two types of user might be interacting leads to the next question.
What are they looking for?
For the most part, mobile users are not browsing as they might be on a laptop. Mobile users are on a mission. So what is that mission? It might be to find a phone number, pull up an address, learn more about a product or just to be entertained. Thinking about how your user might want to engage with you through mobile will help determine the right platform to use. Branded games are best experienced within an app, phone numbers and addresses are well suited for the mobile web with links to Google Maps. Each of these scenarios have one or more unique tactics that can be used to build a larger solution.
In our retailer example, the consumer is most likely looking for store information (location, hours) or product information. Based on these needs, a mobile website would easily allow them to find your store by leveraging the phone’s built-in GPS and serving up product information in a mobile format will help in the decision making process.
The mobile sales team wants to present their products in the best light possible and close the deal. A tablet is an excellent way to have a one-on-one conversation without binders of paper or the challenge of sharing a laptop screen. Being able to provide a demonstration or product content is the number one priority in closing the deal. So what content do you have to share?
What content do you have?
A key principle in mobile development is speed to market. The longer you wait, the more customers you may upset or confuse (and the quicker your competition may get ahead). The first place to start with mobile content is the content you already have. This may be white papers, PowerPoint presentations, video clips on YouTube, etc. If your customer’s need is informational, you’ve probably already developed the necessary content for your desktop website or offline communications, it just needs to be formatted and repurposed for the smaller screen of a phone. Starting small with what you have is better than doing nothing at all.
Our retailer can easily gather a list of all his stores. If there are 5 stores, they can simply be listed on a page. If there are tens or hundreds, they are probably already in a database and can be leveraged for a mobile website. For product information, starting with product descriptions is a good start and then expanding to include ratings, reviews and availability can come later.
For the mobile sales person, PowerPoint presentations and video demonstrations of the product are being used today. These will serve as a great starting point for app content. If a ordering database already exists, this could be integrated with an app for real-time ordering.
What devices do they have?
The final and not-to-be-ignored question is “what devices do your customers have?” They may be connecting with you on their Android phone, iPad, feature phone or maybe only their laptop. Identifying the potential devices that are being used can be done through causal observation, a survey or by reviewing the mobile visits to your desktop website. If you find that none of your customers have smartphones, a text messaging strategy might be appropriate. For a tech-savvy audience, an app or high-end mobile website may be better suited.
The retailer’s customers are a standard slice of society. Young, old, well-off, low income. They all shop here. For this retailer, the options are pretty wide. Text messaging will reach 90% of the customers. A good mobile website can probably reach 60% and deliver a much greater detail of information. Plus mobile websites are indexed by search engines, making them easily finable for those who don’t know your URL.
The sales team has been given iPads for mobile productivity, so the device is known very well in this example. Building a custom app or leveraging a set of individual apps will allow the sales team to go out into the field with all the sales materials they need.
Building a mobile strategy can be a simple internal process or one where outside support is needed. Whether your business has 100 customers or 1,000,000 customers, thinking about how a user on the go is interacting with your company must be a consideration today.