The phrase “mobile first” has become something of a business cliché – many claim to have mobile-first strategies, but the evidence suggests that they are missing the mark. Simply having a mobile website that displays adequately on a smart phone screen is not true mobile first marketing.
The penalties for ignoring mobile
Some time ago, Google promised to prioritize mobile-optimized websites in their search results. Indeed, this pledge has been reflected in the search algorithms since April 2015 – which means that your mobile-optimized competitors may have been realizing an SEO advantage for more than two years already.
Google’s mobile-first prioritization is not some kind of tactic to drive take-up of Android phones either. It actually reflects the preferences of your target audiences – particularly those under the age of 34. Mobile internet traffic first overtook traditional desktop devices back in January 2014 – and has continued to increase ever since. Mobile now accounts for 65% of digital media time, relegating desktop devices to a secondary role.
Do not be fooled. These usage statistics are not tied solely to the legendary “millennial” generation – everyone is moving towards mobile-first internet engagement.
Delivering mobile friendly marketing is imperative – otherwise, you simply cannot connect with your target market. So, what should your mobile first marketing strategy look like?
Plan for smaller screens
The latest smartphones have remarkably large screens – at least compared to their early predecessors. Despite this, even the enormous Samsung Galaxy Note is nothing in comparison to the 13”+ on the average notebook computer.
Your website and marketing materials need to take account of this limited screen real estate. So before planning a massive hi-res website, remember that the majority of your mobile visitors will not appreciate it.
Get your mobile design right
The choice of artwork, graphics and layout has always been important to website success, and nothing has changed in the age of mobile first marketing. Your design team needs to work with the reduced real estate, building a framework that uses every pixel effectively.
Always remember that although mobile optimization can be used to boost search engine rankings, the most important factor of all is customer satisfaction. Your marketing assets – including your website – need to communicate key information quickly and effectively. In reality, this is simply common sense – even on the desktop, your customers don’t waste time.
Don’t lose people on loading times
There are other limitations that need to be considered. Mobile devices have less processing power available for instance, potentially limiting the complexity of content. Similarly, your design team will need to carefully plan files sizes of content. Cellular networks typically offer much less bandwidth, increasing the time required to download rich media like videos – users won’t wait too long for your content to load.
Personalize messaging and content
The issue of mobile content is not just to do with reduced download speeds. With capped contracts, some users are very careful about not breaching their data allowances downloading content of little interest or value.
Despite being targeted at small screen portable devices, the same basic principles apply to your mobile first marketing strategy. Your potential customers expect personalized messaging tailored to their interests and preferences.
Using the insights gathered from your social listening and general customer profiling to build messages that resonate with your target personas. Then ensure that they are properly optimized for transmission and display on mobile devices.
The relevance of your messaging is even more crucial when you consider how people view their phones. Much more than simply a device for making calls or surfing the web, smartphones are seen as an extension of self – people manage their lives from their handset, and they resent irrelevant intrusions by scatter-gun marketing.
Don’t say too much
Google (and readers) may prefer long form content, but you must be careful when targeting mobile users. Yes, they will read longer content on their tiny screens, but it must be extremely well-written.
Take time to choose your words carefully. Trim unnecessary jargon and wasted words. Cut everything so nothing remains but the core message of your asset. Which is what you should be doing with all your written assets anyway, even for those not directly intended for mobile marketing.
You may find that your copywriter has to work more closely with your designers to ensure that words are arranged in such a way that screen real estate is maximized, without compromising the overall message.
Social as a gateway to mobile first marketing
Social media is the gateway to your mobile-optimized website. Nearly 80% of social media time is spent on phones and tablets, which means that every asset shared on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram must be targeted for mobile screens first. Yes, the experience on desktop clients may be less satisfying, but these users now represent a minority audience – don’t ignore them, but don’t prioritize them either (unless you are targeting a very, very specific desktop-using audience).
With this in mind, social media should become an even more important part of your mobile first marketing strategy. Of course, people still read email on their mobile, and you should optimize both message and landing page for mobile devices. But don’t forget just how much traffic can be realized from well-targeted social media marketing campaigns.
The more you understand your target audience, the better able you will be to design mobile campaigns that reach them.