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Third Quarter 2011 Mobile Survey

The greatest addition of mobile sites came from the “Restaurants” category this quarter with 11 new site launches. Notable launches include Subway, Macaroni Grill, and Donatos. Retailers also had a high number of new sites, including notable launches from PetSmart, Advance Auto Parts, and Dollar Tree. Other major brands with new site launches include Lipitor (Pharmaceuticals), Downy, Cotton (the Fabric of Our Lives), and Audi USA. A great number of businesses also added additional URLs to existing mobile sites for additional ease of access. Be on the lookout for our Fourth Quarter 2011 report, out in January 2012.

Download the Third Quarter 2011 Mobile Survey

Past Surveys:

Second Quarter 2011 Mobile Survey

First Quarter 2011 Mobile Survey

Developing a Mobile Strategy

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.

Related Articles

Project: Rockwell Status Light Analyzer

imageRed, Green, Red, Green, Red, Green.  No, you aren’t trying to get through rush hour traffic, you are standing in front of a Rockwell Automation CompactLogix controller.  So what does the red/green flashing light mean?

Until now, might have had to go and grab your instruction manual, but today Rockwell released the Status Light Analyzer for iPhone.  This app allows an operator to set all the status lights on their controller and see what each light means.  This portable tool will save operators and engineers the hassle of carrying around printed manuals or having to visit the Rockwell website to lookup the meaning of the lights.

The app is available in the iTunes App Store and will be available shortly for Android phones.

Oh, and the flashing red/green light?  That means the network port is performing a self test.

Measuring Mobile

The age of digital marketing has enabled measurement in ways that were not possible in decades past.  We can see every click, abandonment and conversion.  Although mobile marketing is still in its infancy – and expectations might not as well defined as in web marketing – measurement is very much possible and should be part of any program.

While measurements vary by tactic and device, best practices cross the many platforms.  Interaction and conversion are the two primary measurements, but there are others that should be considered.

Mobile Interaction

Mobile engagement is the most common measure of a program’s success.  Interaction can come in many forms from downloads to page views.  For many mobile programs, an interaction may be the most complete measurement possible.  If your mobile website has a store locator on it, you can easily measure the number of people who found a store’s address, or even clicked out to Google Maps, but you cannot measure the number of these customers that came into the store.  On the app side, downloads are a measurement that is always touted, and while this is important, the continued use of the app is more important than the raw downloads.  In every case, interaction measurements should be tied to performance indicators.  If there are multiple key interactions with a mobile program, assign relative dollar values to each one.  This allows you to see the overall contribution from each interaction.

Mobile Conversion

Turning a visitor into a customer is the primary goal of most digital marketing – online or mobile.  Today, some mobile programs don’t have a measureable conversion point, but many do.  On the web or in an app, the completion of a contact or registration form is a conversion.  In a SMS campaign, a person showing their phone to get a discount is a conversion.  All of this should be measured and compared against traditional and other digital efforts.

Other Measurements

Even though we are well into the mobile age, there continue to be many industries where being the first to make a mobile splash is still possible.  The “cool” factor of having an app both for branding and for direct sales is very powerful.  In addition to direct returns from the “cool” factor, getting placements in publications and other PR visibility can also be a benefit.

The tools for measurement are somewhat countless.  There are many specialized platforms and tools to help with measurement.  For web and apps, we recommend Google Analytics and the basic download metrics available from Apple and Google.  While there are many other options available, these tools are free and give you a great starting point for measuring mobile.

Tools for Cross-Platform App Development

A few weeks back, I talked about developing apps using native and cross platform tools.  Today I want to go a little deeper into the two tools that Circle44 uses most often.

Appcelerator Titanium

imageThe Appcelerator Titanium Mobile platform blends access to hardware, native code and cross-platform JavaScript into a powerful development tool. Apps developed within Appcelerator are able to use the phone’s features such as the camera, GPS and integrated Google maps. Appcelerator provides a strong module library of pre-complied features such as barcode scanning, Facebook integration and many others. This library allows for easy deployment of advanced features and the platform is always evolving to include new features that are of interest to developers and their clients.

While Appcelerator Titanium Mobile is a strong platform, it does have some weaknesses. There is currently no support for BlackBerry or Windows Phone. The JavaScript-based interpreter does make the apps run more slowly than native apps. Finally, the user interface is developed through programming, rather than a graphical tool as is available from the native SDKs requiring developer support for UI design.

Appcelerator currently offers four developer plans ranging from the free Community plan to Enterprise plans. Each plan comes with different levels of tools and support from Appcelerator.


The PhoneGap platform is ideal for web developers that want to build an app for deployment in the various app stores. PhoneGap is based on HTML, CSS and JavaScript, essentially packaging a website into an app. The advantage over a mobile website is that a PhoneGap app has access to the system hardware on most platforms. While this makes development simple, many apps will run more slowly than other cross-platform apps. JQuery and Sencha can be used to augment HTML, giving PhoneGap apps a richer interface and plug-ins can give app-like access to Google Maps and other advanced content features.

A major advantage for PhoneGap is that it can be deployed on iOS, Android, BlackBerry, Windows Phone and several other platforms. Using the new PhoneGap Build system, apps can be written locally, and then uploaded to the PhoneGap build server to be complied for all the platforms. This removes the requirement of having a Mac to compile the app for iOS (required for native and Appcelerator apps).

PhoneGap and PhoneGap Build are both free tools under the BSD license or the MIT license.


These tools shine brightest when they are used for simple app development along with prototyping.  For apps with a complicated UI or massive data handling, native continues to be the best solution, but for many apps involving basic calculations and user interfaces, Appcelerator and PhoneGap can save time in getting your app to multiple platforms.

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