4 major components to finding success in a digital world: mobile [part one]

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It’s a fair statement to make that we are not living in the digital revolution. We are living and breathing the history that many will look back at in generations to come and see as the era that changed the fundamental way we interact. Forever.

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The world is changing, technology is changing, the way we communicate is changing and it’s no longer about becoming digital, it’s about succeeding in a digital world.

In order to succeed in a digital world, there are four key factors to consider. Over a series of four articles I will explore each of these factors:

  • Mobile
  • Social
  • Data
  • The internet of things

Today whatever we do online needs to be approached with a mobile first strategy in mind. To date, publishers, advertisers, marketers and brands have all been toying with the idea of adopting a mobile driven strategy but now it’s time to put those thoughts into action.

Up until now, when we talk about mobile optimization, it’s really just been about trying cram a desktop experience into a smartphone. This is not mobile first thinking.

Mobile first thinking is when we start to design and develop with the mobile device, and mobile consumer, in mind. What kind of experience are they after? What kinds of information would they be interested in on this platform? Where are they likely to consume information? All these questions (amongst others) need to be asked and answered in order to come up with way that translates seamlessly into the mobile space and optimize that user experience.

This does become slightly tricky though as “mobile” can refer to any number of devices of different sizes and different types including smartphones, tablets, wearable tech like Google Glass and Samsung’s Galaxy Gear watch.

Think cross-platform-cross-device
Because we are in the midst of one the biggest software and hardware revolutions ever, smartphones and tablets are becoming our predominate devices due to their mobility and customers, employees, and other stakeholders are using their smart phones and tablets everywhere, and anywhere.

This impacts their online experience with you and if you’re not thinking mobile first then that experience is unlikely to be a good one.

It’s because of these devices and constant connectivity that brands and companies are able to interact with customers anywhere at any time and start a meaningful conversation with them.

As opposed to traditional marketing and advertising (a bit of a hit and miss strategy), brands are able to communicate and encourage specific calls to actions with consumers via their mobile devices. This means that your audience is more engaged and your communication is more targeted. You are also able to provide the precise information they need at the moment they need it to make a buying decision. That alone is a big reason to develop a comprehensive mobile first strategy.

How to get going with mobile first
There are four key steps that you need to work through in order to get to your eventual goal of a mobile first strategy.

The first step is exploration. This is the starting point and the foundation from which you will build. This is where you will start playing around with mobile and getting to grips with what is possible for your business or industry.

As a starting point you will want to ensure that your website is responsive. This means that it is designed so that it will adapt to automatically suit the device it is being viewed on. So if you are viewing it on a smartphone the format will adapt to suit the specs of the screen it’s being viewed on. There is nothing worse than trying to access a site on a smartphone that isn’t responsive!

Now that you’ve got the basics down you need start moving your strategy along. You need to start rethink how people pay, or how you charge for your products and services.

Credit cards are easy, but e-wallets are even easier. At this point start asking questions like: what are the barriers stopping customers from paying via mobile devices? What online payment methods would my customers appreciate? How can I make the transaction quicker and easier? Ultimately the easier you make it for people to make a purchase the more you’re going to sell.

This is where we need to start looking to the future and where technology is going. Apple’s Siri is an example of how we are starting to engage directly with our mobile devices and how they are able to answer back directly with precise, correct information. Is there space for this kind of technology within your business? Next you need to start thinking of wearable tech — will your customers soon be wearing the latest Samsung Galaxy Gear? Will this impact of their experience, and expectations of your brand?

Using mobile technology to make it easier for customers to shop with you is also something to keep in mind. Often customers find it difficult to track down the right product just in one store or there are so many competitors that they struggle to see the value you offer. Start thinking of how you can use mobile to help customers find exactly what they want and make their life easier. This is how you can add real value. It’s when you reach this stage of the mobile maturity model that you start rethinking how you do business.

Mobile first
The final stage of mobile maturity is indeed reaching mobile first adoption within your business. This means looking to mobile technology to help transform the way you do, conduct, find and close business.

At this point you will start looking at ways to use mobile internally within your organization. Apps aren’t just for consumers; they can make your staff more productive too, streamline and improve internal processes and communication.

Allowing your sales or service reps, for example, to use tablets with internal apps to service customers in real time is a great productivity enhancer. It also gives you more tracking ability so that staff become more accountable. You can also use this intelligence to pick up on what is and isn’t working for your business — internally and from your customers’ perceptive. Equipped with this knowledge you can start transforming your business to become a lot more efficient, productive and easier. Helping customers make better and more informed buying decisions, and equipping staff with the knowledge and resource to do so, is only going to stand you in good stead. That is mobile first.

Digital business framework development by DigitLab CEO Mike Saunders and CTO Stephan Gardner. Mike is an International key note speaker for Tomorrow Today and respected thought leader in the industry

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