Saturday, 20 March 2010

Do you need a mobile strategy?

The latest data from ComScore shows a 30% increase in social networking traffic among smartphone users in the past 12 months. Research from Forrester shows that iPhone users are more affluent than users of other smartphones. The average internet usage for an iPhone user is 100MB, x30 larger than on other phones. There is a lot of discussion about the shift from desktop to mobile and the prediction that in several years time eCommerce will be dominated by mobile browsing.

So this begs the question, do you need a mobile strategy?

The obvious answer is yes but what exactly is a mobile strategy? At a basic level, you can optimise your website for mobile browser compatibility meaning that people using mobile devices can navigate your main website on their smartphone. However, I would argue that this is not a mobile strategy, it is simply enabling browsing via mobile devices.

For me a mobile strategy involves integrating mobile commerce into your customer communication channels to ensure that they can interact with you using their mobile device. This goes beyond mobile commerce through to supporting communication and driving engagement via mobile channels. So what can this include?

  • Capturing mobile phone numbers and using these for customer service including order status updates
  • Targeting mobile users with SMS marketing campaigns
  • Developing mobile apps to provide added value, such as an iPhone app
  • Developing social media presence on mobile friendly sites such as Twitter, Facebook
  • Providing mobile as a response channel for customers
  • Taking micro payments for products and services
  • Optimising your web presence for local search to increase visibility when people browse on the move
  • Using mobile technology to improve internal communication between remote teams.
Of course this comes down to relevance. If your audience is not using Facebook, focus on the other elements of a mobile strategy to add value. It's also important that each element of your mobile strategy is measured to ensure it is adding commercial value. There is no point building an iPhone app if nobody is going to use it.

How do you work out if this is right for you?

First, check your web analytics data - what % of your traffic is coming to the site on mobile browsers? If it's a decent %, then there is clearly a mobile audience out there. Next, compare the performance stats for mobile visitors v other visitors - what paths do they take, how long do they spend on the site, are they repeat visitors, how much do they spend? If you have a decent traffic volume but poor conversion, it would suggest you need to do something better to engage your mobile audience.

I appreciate this is a simplistic analysis - I would recommend you survey your customer base to find out what the mobile demands are. Analytics tells you what is happening, the voice-of-customer data will tell you why.

For further reading, there is a useful post by Graham Charlton on the Econsultancy blog.