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There Is No Such Thing As The Year Of The Mobile (Yet)

Russell McAthy

by Russell McAthy on 25th April 2012

SmartphoneRussell McAthy argues that for mobile marketing the best is yet to come.

There is no way that working within digital media someone has not said ‘the year of the mobile’ either directly to you or within earshot.

This term has been bandied around to define the year that mobile technology ‘takes off’ and becomes a significant factor within marketing and internet business culture. The issue is that outside of the industry that we work with, mobile is simply a phone. It’s a specific device defined by Wikipedia as:

‘Mobile (phone), a portable communications device’ Wikipedia.com

Most don’t match the statement with the original reasoning behind the terminology the true (and historic) definition of mobile

‘capable of moving or being moved readily.’ Dictionary.com

Connecting to your customer across many different digital mediums has come to the forefront of digital marketers in the last few years as analytics packages have allowed more defined segmentation and specific decision making based on data driven historical facts. ‘Mobile’ is not a medium of traffic, in the same way you wouldn’t call ‘home computer’ a medium of traffic. Mobile in the true sense of the word is a form of connectivity. Currently there will be a subsection of the customer base using mobile to browse, this group are utilising the functionality of mobility for many reasons.

Why use ‘mobile’?

So knowing this, why was 2011 not the year of the ‘mobile’? I believe it was actually the year of the tablet. Tablet browsing took a considerable chunk of traffic driven by the success of the iPad and iPad2. The main reason for tablet growth is compatibility.

The tablet can render most websites with no requirement from the webmaster to change the design, code or functionality (ok, iPad’s can’t do flash…but you know what I mean). The current issue with the term ‘mobile’ is this requirement for change and in effect significant investment into websites / apps from a brand’s perspective for effective smart phone use.

Responsive DesignThe Koozai website is one example of responsive design (shrink the size of this screen to see what we mean)

Investment in better connectivity from the ISP’s and Mobile networks to allow users to use the devices efficiently needs to happen to allow for the rise of mobile to go fully mainstream. Many big brands have invested significantly in apps and mobile optimised sites; however what we had yet to see is the medium and small businesses follow this trend to get themselves into this marketplace. It will happen, however there is no unified route for best practise with technology overtaking strategy daily within the ‘mobile’ sector. It is stated in 2012 that 1 in 4 searches will come from mobile, however only 9% of sites are mobile compatible, that’s not taking into consideration usability on that 9%!

Econsultancy recently published their Digital Intelligence Briefing in which they show ‘mobile optimisation’ being in the top 3 for the most exciting digital related opportunities for 2012. Looking at purely the retail sector they also note that 53% of brands plan to optimise their desktops for ‘mobile’ use. Some businesses are taking the appropriate steps to enable their customers to reach their sites on any device. However utilising the features on the device is not something that is at the forefront of development as of yet.

Only 25% of retailers surveyed said they will be investing in location and geo based integration. I believe the biggest potential growth factor is with the device specific abilities being utilised to customise websites based on location / camera facilities / contacts etc. This gives the user added functionality by using their phone that they wouldn’t get on the desktop experience, other than mobility.

This growth in a new format of communication is exciting for digital marketeers as it gives another method to connect with the customer. Taking your brand wherever they are! What is important going forward is that brands understand that marketing and brand presence, when moving between different mediums and connections, needs to stay constant. Customers shouldn’t expect to have different experiences depending on where they are or how they interact with a brand. This multi-channel customer experience should be at the forefront of marketing decisions to allow for a fully integrated marketing plan on all digital channels and connections.

Predictions for the next few years

  • 2011 was the year of the tablet
  • 2012 will be the year of multi-channel analysis
  • 2013 will be the year of customer centric design / responsive design
  • 2014 will be the year of the SSP (Super Smart Phone)
  • 2015 will be the true year of the mobile (in which more people use mobile devices to access websites over standalone computers – and most businesses utilise mobile devices as the main form of interaction with customers)

Questions to ask yourself:

  1. What are you brands doing to be ready for the progression of mobile within the marketing environment?
  2. Do you have a strategy in place to ensure you are not left behind?
  3. Are you being mobile?

Summary
Taking all of these factors in to account it’s clear that although it isn’t yet the year of mobile, having a mobile friendly website is still very important. The more channels you can reach your customers the higher a chance you have of converting them.

The views expressed in this post are those of the author so may not represent those of the Koozai team.

Image Source

Modern Smartphone With Application Icons via BigStock

Russell McAthy

Russell McAthy

Russell McAthy is a digital marketing specialist, his experience working client and agency side has enabled him to provide analytical based strategies for businesses of all sizes. His analyst background allows him to put the maths behind the science and calculate the all important ROI's for projects and campaigns. When not working you'll likely find him on a football pitch or in a bar with friends.

1 Comment

  • Mike Essex

    Mike Essex 25th April 2012

    Hi Russell, thanks for your first guest post on the Koozai blog. When we rebuilt the Koozai site mobile was a big focus, and having the site scale down to iPad and iPhone size had to be thought about from day one.

    In essence it was like trying to build – and more importantly test – three separate websites. Except to make things trickier they all had the same source code as we were reluctant to use something like m.koozai.com as that would cause people viewing on a PC to see the mobile version if a link was shared.

    There’s a lot of challenges facing anyone looking to take on mobile, but ultimately it’s worth it. Of the feedback we’ve seen the vast majority have commented on the look and feel of the site on their phones. Having a nice mobile friendly site from today means you’ll get the kudos of making something fresh, rather than following the herd. So although it’s not yet the “year of mobile” it is certainly the year to get started on planning.

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