Think about your customers’ just-in-time needs when setting mobile strategy2012-05-08
Any trend that gains enough momentum to become irreversible results in organizations of all kinds jumping on the bandwagon. One inevitable consequence is a surge of mediocrity. It doesn’t matter whether we’re talking about having a web page or a Facebook presence, using QR codes or Pinterest, or blogging or tweeting. For all the great resources about the shift to social business, only a fraction of organizations will do it well. Why?
Because talentless hacks anxious to capitalize on a trend, working for organizations that want to employ only the fastest and easiest way to make a buck, will always greatly outnumber creative minds inspired to make the most out of a trend working for organizations willing to invest time and resources over the long haul in order to do things right.
So it goes with mobile.
As we approach the point where more Net access occurs over mobile devices than PCs and laptops, organizations are scurrying to deploy apps and optimize their websites. Thus, we’re seeing a crapload of worthless branded apps and websites that have been shrunk down to fit a 4, 7 or 10-inch screen.
Few are examining what the shift to mobile actually means so they can deliver services that accommodate how people actually use the Net on their phones and take advantage of the law of mobility, which states that the value of things increase when you can take them with you.
Not that there isn’t plenty of data to help organizations think through how the mobile web experience should differ. The Pew Interent and American Life Project just released new numbers yesterday that focus on the just-in-time manner in which people use their phones. The Project had already explored the spur-of-the-moment donation to a charity via a phone, as well as in-store uses. (
Research from Forrester confirms that smartphones are widely used when people are traveling and shopping and people need information right now related to their current activities.)
Resizing the screens of your current website doesn’t make it easier for your customers to access the kind of information they need when they’re out and about and need to get information based on what they’re doing at the moment. Nor does an app that may be too clever for words but that is still largely useless.
Consider how people have used web-based content on their phones over a 30-day period:
- Deciding whether to visit a business, like a restaurant or bar
- Getting traffic or public transit information to find the fastest way to get to a destination
- Finding the score of a sporting event (ESPN has this figured out; look at their website vs. the home screen of the sports network’s mobile site, shown below)
- Solving an unexpected problem
- Locating the answer to a question that will settle an argument
(I remember going to a Cubs game at Wrigley with Steve Crescenzo and David Murray, who began arguing over when the ivy was added to the legendary ballpark’s outfield walls. This predated smartphones, but I had a Palm Treo with Web access, so I found the answer: 1937. Steve was right. David informed me that he hated my f***king technology.)
Read the Pew study.
It’s also worth noting that—in the U.S., at least—people spend more of their mobile time on Facebook than any other property, regardless of whether they’re using the mobile website or the app, according to ComScore. Other top smartphone properties included Apple, eBay, Twitter, ESPN, Wikipedia and The Weather Channel.
It’s easy to see how these sites synch up with the just-in-time reasons people turn to their smartphones. It’s your job to figure out how your content and resources can do the same.