The Golden Age of Mobile – How Deep Do You Need to Dive?

Every company needs a website right? That’s just something companies do, along with a Facebook page, twitter account, blog, widget, YouTube channel, mobile website and mobile app, right? It’s just a cost of doing business. That’s a bold statement, and mentions a plethora of marketing channels which won’t all be covered today, but it’s meant to illustrate a point. There are always new marketing channels that bring with them as much confusion as benefit.

Of course, we’re only scratching the surface with these statements. Obviously, having these channels also requires us to constantly feed content through them. So while setting up a facebook page takes 5 minutes, or setting up a blog can be done for under $2,000, the real commitment involves a comprehensive plan on how to regularly generate content and engage your users. This point is often times overlooked; not so much because of over-anxious marketing directors but because said marketers don’t know how deep they need to dive into the various channels. So, how do we, as marketers, sift through and figure out what WE should be doing? Today, we’ll try to answer that question in relation to mobile.

Mobile is admittedly a very broad term, and creates a fair bit of confusion because it means so many different things. Most people immediately attribute it to phones, specifically smart phones, but in truth mobile devices come in many flavors. For example: the GPS unit in your car, watch you wear running, tablet or netbook you surf the web with at your local coffee shop, or mp3 player. This is by no means a complete list, and will only grow bigger as time marches on. The concept is simple though, the way people consume information is changing again. These days, the focus is on consuming content quickly, and immediately, in small chunks. There is less of a need on the users part to retain information long-term, because the information is never more than a Google search away.

So back on point, how do we know what we need to do in the mobile space? Obviously, just like the web, social media, and TV/radio before that, there’s no set answer that works equally well for everyone. We need to take a step back and look at what we can really offer in that space. At the end of the day, your initiatives will live or die based one two things, their value to the user and your ability to get it to the right audience. This is even more true with mobile.

So what is it that your company does? Are users likely to need information on-the-go? What is the best way to allow users to find that information? These are the fundamental questions you need to ask yourself. It’s a common mistake to just want to duplicate your existing content, or website, to a mobile optimized version. But thinking more strategically about how the user will consume information on their phone, and how that differs from the web, will give you a bigger payoff in the end.

Once you figure out the what, it’s time to think about how. What channel makes the most sense, a mobile website or mobile app? Maybe both? For a parts manufacturing company that sells through distributors, there may be little or no need to worry about this space at all. For a company that depends its users to upload photos of travels, you need to make it as easy as possible for your users, and provide an app that makes the entire process simple.

As with everything, there a trade-offs. I can’t remember a time in my short life where the world has been so fragmented with regards to the devices they use. There are more phones, operating systems, and flavors of distributions than most people can keep up with. Luckily, mobile piggy-backs a great deal on the success, and maturity, of the web and email. However, for maximum distribution on the app front, you’re still looking at writing multiple apps in different languages.

So that’s content distribution, but what about advertising? There are plenty of people who have been successful advertising on the web, only to try out some mobile campaigns with little success. This goes back to how users consume information, and the different mindset they have when their on a mobile device vs. a desktop or laptop. If I search for the term “NYC restaurants” on my computer at home, I’m more than likely looking for ideas on where to eat when I visit NYC in the future. If I search for that on my mobile phone, I’m probably in NYC looking for a place to eat right now. That’s a simplified example, but you get the concept.

The question on media comes back to the fundamental question, what value can you provide to an on-the-go user? What incentive does a user have to click on your ad, and more importantly, convert? Is a user going to research and buy a new pressure-washer on their iPhone? Probably not. However, if a user searches for a pressure washer from a mobile device, they may be looking at that product in a store right at that moment. In that case they may be looking for additional specs, answers to a specific question the packaging doesn’t contain, or competitive pricing. Understanding the mindset will allow you to tailor messages and ads more effectively.

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