We are past the point where mobile is an add-on or afterthought: 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 this year.
It couldn’t be any clearer that mobile is integral to any go-to-market strategy. But ”mobile” is much more than 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 to mobile 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 are going to be way ahead of the pack. This requires continuity across platforms, which is the first topic in this series about mobile strategy for marketers.
Continuity across platforms
Let’s start with some examples. 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!) Some of these issues may 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 disjointedness 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 kinds of silos are especially obvious – and painful – at larger organizations. To avoid this, many companies are hiring “Customer Experience Officers” to work across departments and ensure that the customer journey is in line with the brand and also with customer needs.
Synch the customer experience
When customers and prospects encounter a brand on a mobile device versus a desktop device, 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 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 it.
Mobile with a purpose
Some companies have a mobile app just to say they have a mobile app. But 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.
Determine mobile motivation
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.
Finally, don’t approach your mobile strategy with the mindset of developing something cool for cool’s sake. Instead, 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.
This an edited version of a post originally published here.