Thursday Mobile Series: Introduction and Continuity Across Platforms

I recently set out to write a blog post about all the different angles marketers need to consider when developing their mobile strategy. When I got up to 2000 words, I realized I needed to make this a series or folks’ eyes were going to start to bleed. So every Thursday for at least the next six weeks (six because that’s how many topics I have now, but I’m sure I’ll think of more) I’ll post about a different mobile topic. 

Nearly 25% of web traffic came from a mobile device by the end of 2012, and some analysts are predicting that mobile searches will surpass desktop searches by the end of 2013.

It couldn’t be more clear that we are past the point where mobile is an add-on or after thought; mobile is integral to any go-to-market strategy from here to the foreseeable future.

But ”mobile” is much more an optimized website or an ill-used QR code. All too often when the industry talks about mobile, the emphasis seems to be on a particular technology and not on why consumers are driving the shift in this behavior in the first place.

Marketers setting out to define their mobile strategy in 2013 need to first understand the situations and behaviors that drive mobile use and then employ tactics and technologies that fit those parameters—not the other way around. Companies that get this right in 2013 and going to be way ahead of the pack in 2014.

Continuity Across Platforms is the first topic in my mobile series about the many different perspectives marketers can look at mobile technology and strategy.

How annoying is it when the actions you need to take to complete a task on a website greatly differ (or are the inverse) from the mobile app? I find this more of a problem with large sites and products like Facebook and Twitter than with the likes of Evernote and Pocket. (One social network that has done this is well is Google+; of all the major social networks it made the best mobile app.)

Admittedly, distilling Facebook into an app is a far more complex task than creating a bookmarking app (talk about layers of functionality). However, I do think some of the issues stem from two separate engineering teams (one web, one mobile) developing two separate products but not working together on what should feel like the same experience.

But this kind of problem is not limited to engineering departments, of course. When different individuals or departments own different pieces of the customer experience, it’s no wonder that experience can feel disjointed. These kind of silos are especially obvious (and painful) at larger organizations. Which is why many companies are hiring customer experience officers. These folks work across departments not to make cookie cutter experiences, but to make sure the customer journey is in line with the brand and in line with the customers’ needs.

This same kind of logic applies when we start to think about how and why customers and prospects are encountering a brand on a mobile device vs. a desktop device. When accessing a website or app, most users are not consciously thinking “I am using a web based app” or “I am using a mobile app.” In the minds of most people, it’s all the same experience regardless of where it happens, so brands need to work to make sure it feels like it.

But this is not to say that a every product has to cram every bit of its functionality into a mobile app. Can you imagine trying to be a Salesforce admin via iPhone only? The key is to understand why a user might access your business or website via mobile and giving them what they need to do what they need to do.

There are some companies have a mobile app just to say they have a mobile app. If it’s not adding to the experience, it’s taking away from your brand. It’s hard to regain the love of a customer or prospect when you’ve fiddled with their expectations. So if it doesn’t make sense for your company to build an app or provide part of your brand experience via mobile, then don’t do it.

Instead monitor your web metrics, find out what folks are trying to access on your site via mobile, and make those parts of the experience easily accessible (and findable) via a mobile device.

Don’t approach your mobile strategy with the mindset of developing something cool for cool’s sake. Take an integrated approach with a problem-solving mindset. Start with two questions:” Does this make sense for our brand?” and “Does this solve a problem or otherwise enhance the customer experience?” If you can answer yes to both of those questions, that’s a good start.

What do you think?

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