Mobile is complex – but it’s no space jump

Felix Baumgartner’s awe-inspiring jump from the edge of outer space this weekend has been a massive media coup for sponsors Red Bull. Thankfully, back here on planet earth, as a marketer, you need not go to those lengths to get consumers engaged with your brand. That said, I think it’s imperative that you do tackle the complexities of mobile head on.

Take a moment to look at your site from a mobile phone. If you are a brand marketer who has no mobile presence or a poorly optimised mobile site – just a shrunken-down version of your website – then you’ve got a problem. You can’t continue to ignore the shift to mobile everything that’s happening all around if you want to safeguard the potency of your brand.

Clearly, mobile isn’t easy, but you’re not being asked to jump out of a balloon at the edge of space. Sure, mobile is a complex environment fragmented by multiple operating systems and literally thousands of devices, with varying screen resolutions and sizes. But the consumer shift to mobile is real. Technology research firm ­Telsyte estimates that there will be 12.5 million smartphones in this country by the end of 2012, representing close to two-thirds of Australia’s mobile phones.

Data released by Kantar Worldpanel in July shows that smartphones running Google’s Android software account for 56.9% of the smartphone market, while smartphones running on Apple’s iOS represent a 30.5% market share. With Android and Apple commanding the lion share of the market, Nokia’s Symbian platform holds just 3.8%  share while BlackBerry usage plummeted to just 0.1% of the market.

Mobile has enormous consequences for your brand. The future of your brand equity rests with how well you adapt for the mobile environment.

According to research from PwC and Frost & Sullivan published earlier this year 26% of online purchases are now made on mobile devices, compared with 21% last year which is expected to drive continued growth in online shopping.

Google recently teamed with Sterling Brands and Ipsos to study the media habits of 1,611 people across the US in the second quarter of this year. While it’s a small study, the research found that the mobile device is the most common accompaniment to other media consumption and that a majority of online tasks get initiated on a smartphone and are continued on another device. So you not only need to be everywhere that your customers are but you should present a consistent experience between platforms.

Mobile commerce is growing and the habit of using a mobile phone to aid a purchase decision is becoming commonplace. According to AIMIA’s Australian Mobile Phone Lifestyle Index, September 2012, approximately 40% of their respondents use their mobile phone to compare prices online and to look at product or service reviews before making a purchase decision.

Meanwhile, mobile search traffic is increasing five-fold. Consumers are searching for your business from their mobile phones, so you need to engage them with a mobile experience designed for completing on-the-go tasks from the small screen, whatever the device.

This major shift in consumer behaviour is simply too large for brand marketers to ignore, yet brand marketers continue to stall their move to mobile. And I think this is because they don’t know where to start and how go about it.

Without doubt, just considering the additional resources needed to run a separate mobile website is a major challenge. But a responsively designed website that simply scales your website for the small screen is not an optimal experience. Indeed, pinching and zooming in on tiny links is a poor user experience.

There are huge differences between the mobile and desktop web and they require very different strategies, tactics and technologies. To deliver an optimised mobile experience, you need to recognise that mobile users have different needs than desktop users. It’s an ‘on the go’ environment where your needs and device constraints are very different from a desktop user.

While it’s a myth that mobile users don’t want access to all of the information and functionality available to desktop users, they really don’t want it served up to them in the same way. They don’t want endlessly scrolling pages and big images that take forever to load.

In a mobile world it’s not enough just to have great content. You have to accommodate the limitations and opportunities provided by the mobile web. It not only improves the user experience, but it makes the site stickier and increases conversions. To deliver an optimised user experience on a mobile, it’s a pre-requisite to display content in a way that is tailored for mobile devices.

Remember, mobile is not just an extension of desktop. As a brand marketer, if you’re displaying a shrunken down version of your main website for mobile users, you’re not on top of the mobile game.


Simon van Wyk
BY Simon van Wyk ON 17 October 2012
Founder, HotHouse Interactive. Tweet him @Hot_House