Sometimes it’s necessary to state the obvious and state it several times: The concept of ‘mobile-first’ has arrived, and it needs to be taken seriously.
We’re currently experiencing a digital revolution, unlike anything we’ve seen previously. Startups are overturning entire industries with a focus on simplicity and ease of use, and traditional companies are reinventing themselves with mobile to stay relevant.
There’s a good reason for this. Mobile devices today are now the first point of interaction for nearly all our communications, information and entertainment needs. A recent survey, in fact, discovered that, on average, we check our phones 150 times a day.
Many organisations have developed mobile strategies to meet these new needs of customers. However, even with this shift in consumer behaviour identified, and even with statistics showing 25 percent of a consumer’s media time is spent on mobile, only 12 percent of brands’ ad budgets are dedicated to mobile on average.
And this speaks to a wider issue. While many organisations invest in the right technology, they lack the insight to actually be mobile-first. Critically, they’re neglecting a vital channel for engaging with customers.
This is increasingly a challenge for brands, as mobile continues to grow in importance in the customer journey both online and in store. And it’s especially true in light of the fact that the sales funnel can no longer be been seen as a linear process, but is more fluid and subject to the hundreds of micro-decisions underpinned by mobile.
For brands to capitalise on the shift to mobile-first, they need the right technology and the right mindset among their leaders, and they need a better understanding of the customer’s mobile journey.
Mobile is bringing a second wave of change to consumer behaviour. First, the internet emerged, and consumers migrated from purchasing in store to in front of their computer, choosing speed and convenience. More recently, in the past two years, mobile has created snapshot moments that drive purchasing behaviour - including everything from push notifications to text messages to mobile wallet coupons - that have completely disrupted traditional customer behaviours.
Specifically, before the internet, customers were won over through referral marketing. Retailers were matched with potential customers by talking to people. As mobile use has intensified, it has further bridged the gap between the digital world to the brick-and-mortar world. Mobile now influences a range of physical and online purchase decisions. For example, even if a purchase isn’t made with a mobile, mobile often plays a crucial part, with customers often browsing purchases before and up to the point of sale via their mobile.
To this end, capitalising on the micro-moments that mobile presence is crucial for shaping the consumer journey in a mobile-first landscape. Brands must understand how this impacts the purchases being made in-store and on the website by mapping the customer journey and adjusting their strategy to it accordingly. Crucially, brands that wish to offer customers a valued experience through mobile must not solely focus on the enabling technology, but also on the behaviours emerging because of it.
The mobile-first mindset
One of the most important points to understand about mobile-first is that today’s brands are no longer singularly defined by a set of products, but by a combination of physical and digital experiences. In this way, mobile’s advantage is that it can bring a deep level of contextual relevance to every stage of the customer journey.
Mobile is both the builder and the beneficiary of data that can be captured from the mobile-first customer. The key, however, is turning big data into specific insights and enabling a richer and more relevant experience for the customer. With this in mind, it’s critical for retailers to evolve their thinking to ensure they can make the most of every channel available to them through today’s digital landscape.
It’s clear, though, that brands are still not using mobile to its full potential. The technology exists to better understand, engage, and serve customers via mobile. Brands have the ability to ‘be there’ with mobile, and they need to ensure that they are there in the critical moments that matter, no matter what stage the customer may be in on their path to purchase.
The mobile-first technology
Above all, retailers must understand that migrating to mobile-first and living mobile-first are two separate things. By better understanding, the full range of connections between mobile, customer experiences, and business results, a retailer can truly tailor services that can dynamically connect the customer to their business.
Moreover, retailers must understand that mobile is much more than a smartphone or an app and that using this understanding is step one in creating a mobile-first strategy. Mobile is personal, and this quality makes it the most powerful link in shaping the behaviours of customers throughout the entire purchasing journey. Brands must be able to, at least to some degree, use mobile to collect data and use it to better understand their customers on a more personal level.
Ultimately, brands now have an unprecedented opportunity to engage customers through mobile. Customers have gained – and come to expect – the capability to interact with their favourite brands in hyper-personalised ways. By fully embracing a mobile-first strategy, brands can take advantage of multi-channel capability to deliver superior service and more personalized offerings to better cater to mobile-savvy customers’ evolving needs.
Lisa Paccione is vice president, sales, Americas at Syniverse.