I’ll just start with a quick confession for those of you who love to pull punk cards and punch them. We at Room 214 are still working on mobile versions of our own website and blog. There, I said it. And no, it doesn’t make me feel any better (clients first, right?).
The content that follows was from a column I wrote earlier for Search Engine Watch – but I think now’s a good time to share it again. Why? Just this week, I observed the Google analytics from two clients in entirely different industries who are showing more than 20% of the visits to their web properties are from mobile and tablet devices.
One client’s blog saw well over 220,000 visits this January, with 25% coming from mobile devices. We all know the shift has been happening… but jeez… 25%?! Much of the research that follows could use a little refresh, so please feel free to share updates/links to recent reports you have seen – and I’ll update this post accordingly.
Now is the time to be creating and changing your web properties for the mobile user experience. Starting with your own email marketing or website/blog is likely the lowest hanging fruit.
A couple years ago, Shiv Singh, who was participating on a social media panel at South by Southwest, boldly stated, “if you are not in mobile, you are not in social.”
As one who runs a social media agency, that statement struck hard. For one, we weren’t doing anything in mobile at that time – and almost none of our customers were approaching us with specifics about what they needed in this space. I suppose that was our job, right?
Apps Withdrawal: Focus First On Strategy
I like to interchange the word “apps” in this context with “tactics” to make the point that many entering the mobile space are approaching it incorrectly with an apps feature-centric perspective.
I saw this firsthand at the second annual AppNation conference, where my key takeaways boiled down to:
- Search engines suck at indexing mobile apps.
- As a developer, the iPhone platform is my best shot at making any money, but the average app gets less than 1,000 downloads and the majority in the app store gross no more than $700/year.
- And my favorite: “for every ‘Angry Birds,’ there are 1,000 angry developers.”
Granted, AppNation is carving out its own developer/marketing conference niche, but what I was really looking for (strategy) came a week later at the Mobile Marketing Strategies Summit.
Note: I have to admit I was a bit down on downloadable apps vs. simply making web properties mobile friendly. But recently (2012), I’ve been seeing far more opportunities that can integrate with various campaigns and advertising plays that get greater response than much of what we see happening at the desktop.
Dealing with Addiction: Where Email Comes In
At WOMMA’s School of WOMM (Now called WOMM-U) event last year, a simple question was asked within a large room packed full of people: “How many of you grab your phone first thing in the morning to either check email before you get out of bed or just before going to work?”
Not surprisingly, the vast majority of people in the room raised their hands. I cringe to think of all the emails people are reading on their phones, and how many contain links to web properties that are barely readable on those tiny screens.
As you review the following, consider why our email habits and smartphone usage will get and keep businesses hooked on mobile in the months and years to come:
- Nielsen’s Mobile Media Report (Q3 2011) notes that nearly half (44%) of U. S. mobile subscribers own smartphones, compared with 30% in 2010.
- The Canayls report from earlier this month shows smartphone shipments surpassed those of PC’s for the first time in Q4 of 2011 (158.5 million smartphone shipments compared to 120.2 million PC shipments – which include “pads, netbooks, notebooks and desktop computers).
- For those on the bandwagon of calling email dead “because the kids don’t use it,” please check Auren Hoffman’s post on just how alive email is. Fact: the Email Service Provider (ESP) space is growing consistently at 30 percent per year – and it’s not because email is getting read less.
- Companies like Gilt Groupe and Groupon have re-proven email is a preferable delivery system. Facebook has made some pretty recent investments in this space as well.
Step 1: Admit You Have a Problem (Then Get to Fixing it)
Here are a few tactical guidelines you’ll want to look into:
- Thin is in for email: Single-column formats with a width of around 600 pixels is a safe bet, but design optimized for 320 pixels will just about guarantee your stuff will look good on all smartphones.
- Don’t make me squint: Marketing Sherpa’s 2011 Email Marketing Advanced Practices Handbook makes references to font sizes no smaller than 14 – and points to the Apple Style Guide as a good reference for spacing.
- Go liquid: A great degree of control for different screen sizes is realized through the combination of style sheets and browser window size detection. In fact, an entirely new area of “responsive design” continues emerging to address different experiences for different screen sizes.
Be prepared to test as you experiment with different formats to accommodate your mobile audience. Always watch the analytics, and consider polling your customers to determine how to best serve them with phone in hand.
Finally, if you find your co-workers still questioning the validity of a mobile strategy for your organization… I hope you’ll deal this article to them via email from your cell.