I felt it necessary to write this after visiting yet another well known brand on my mobile phone that served me with… nothing. I need to warn some of you this post is not going to be revelatory on any level. So, if you are from an agency or offer digital services in any way you may want to stop reading now. This is really for those of you who look after a brand or have been given the task of marketing a brand.
In this post I’m not going to talk about apps that deliver augmented reality mobile experiences enabling you to pay for your coffee by tapping your phone twice in your pocket or providing you with a way of diagnosing your babies health through the camera in the phone. I simply want to illustrate this, the amount of established brands that I visit on my mobile phone that don’t have a functioning mobile site is astounding. And if they do, they are serving me up information that I really don’t need. And I know it sounds absurd, but I think the reason so many brands just don’t get basic mobile communication right is because we have gotten carried away with all the endless possibilities mobile offers and have thrown logic out the window.
I would like to humbly share how I believe any brand or company should approach mobile:
1. You Need a Basic Mobile Site.
This site is just like your brand site, it needs to provide information that is useful to your brand. It should look like your brand, it should serve up your products/services and provide easy to access contact information and help someone find where one of your stores are if relevant. Keep the marketing campaign as a secondary focus. The last thing a customer needs is to not be able to contact you because he can’t get past your campaign message.
2. Evaluate Usage through Analytics.
Once you are happy that your mobile site is working well and the analytics are telling you that people are finding what they are looking for, use those analytics to draw insights as to how you can better use mobile to increase your service and sales.
3. Improve the User Experience.
If you can, try and hold back on those app ideas for just a little longer. Use those analytics as a starting point to explore how mobile can further deliver on business goals like helping customers find a product easier, sharing a product or encourage another purchase through a voucher code. Do some user tests with a small group of your target audience and implement any of those findings into your next iteration. Take these lessons and improve the mobile user experience even further. If you can improve the drop off rate of people looking for your nearest store and not being able to find it, there is no doubt this will effect your bottom line.
4. Mobile is Useful.
Now that you have done the best you can to get mobile working for your company in the browser, now we can talk about an app.
Firstly, a word of caution, the word app is getting used very loosely these days. I’ve seen people develop apps as part of the rollout of a 3-4 month campaign! So again, for the purpose of clarity, an app’s sole purpose of existence is something that a person downloads once onto their phone of choice with the intention of using it over and over again. It is for this very reason that the most used apps are either useful (Health & Fitness, Food, News and Productivity Apps) or are an addictive game (think Angry Birds, Candy Crush etc.).
Now with that in mind, when you go about coming with your amazing app idea be sure to plant yourself firmly in the shoes of your customer. As mentioned above, your app needs to be something that your customer will want to use over and over again. Mostly apps have a single purpose. Unlike a website or mobile site that can have many sections and varied information, an app usually does one thing and it does that one thing very well.
And there we have it, the mobile basics. You may or may not be wondering about all the other mobile technologies I’ve so aptly left out like SMS, USSD and other such acronyms? My advice in short is, try not to see mobile as a marketing channel. See mobile as a digital appendage of your customer, something they hold very dear. If you look at it through that lens it will quickly help you identify the ideas that will work and those that won’t.