Conquering Mobile: Why Marketers Need to Think Mobile-First, Not Mobile-Friendly

This article first appeared on Bronto.com on February 26, 2015 in their Commerce Marketing blog. You can find the original version here.

It’s only February, but we may as well go ahead and declare 2015 the year of mobile commerce. A new study by Yahoo-acquired analytics firm Flurry charted 174% year-over-year growth in mobile use for lifestyle and shopping from 2013. A different study released by PayPal last week shows that mobile commerce is growing at three times the rate of overall e-commerce, projected to hit a growth rate of 42% compared to overall e-commerce’s 13%.

It’s easy to see why. The Internet of Things is now officially a thing, and at the crux of connected devices is the smartphone, which continues to reign supreme. Americans now spend an average of 4.7 hours on their phones a day, and 80% of Millennials sleep with their cell phones next to their beds. The smartphone is used for practically everything. It’s become an alarm clock, an anchor for wearable tech, and even a GPS-enabled call button for car services like Uber and Lyft. Online shopping is, in many ways, the natural next step for today’s always-connected consumer.

Brands are taking notice, and 2015 thus far has been a veritable arms race with companies gearing up for mobile combat. Apple threw down the gauntlet with the announcement of Apple Pay late last year. Samsung recently announced the acquisition of LoopPay, upping their ante as a serious contender for mobile payment market share. Just one day later, at their first-ever mobile developer conference, Yahoo announced the release of the Yahoo Mobile Developer Suite, an entire suite of tools dedicated to helping mobile developers “improve, grow, and monetize” their apps.

The landscape of mobile commerce is changing very quickly – half the developments and studies mentioned above were announced just last week – and marketers must pick up the pace accordingly. Mobile-optimized emails and responsive mobile websites are now the absolute bare minimum of an acceptable mobile strategy. It’s time to think outside the box. Here are three ways you can start:

1. Up your app game

Globally, 47% of shoppers who have purchased both via web browser and in-app prefer shopping via the app. The most cited reasons are convenience and speed, so focus on creating an easy, smooth, and fast experience for your customer from first click to purchase. Clunky interfaces will translate into customers lost. Integrate with social media logins to avoid lengthy sign-up processes, and incorporate payment options like Apple Pay to facilitate quick, one-click transactions.

2. Look beyond the browser

It’s natural for marketers to focus on the mobile app or web browser, as these are the channels that lead directly to purchases. But remember, people use their phones for a whole lot more than just browsing. Social media is huge on mobile, and the advent of the front-facing phone camera helped fuel the selfie craze. Focus on cross-platform integration: insert a social share feature post-purchase for immediate bragging rights, or encourage a mobile-friendly campaign surrounding instant photo-sharing.

3. Think omnichannel

Mobile is on the rise, but so is the trend of clicks-to-bricks. The lines between online and physical stores have blurred as consumer demand for an integrated shopping experience rises. In stores, the smartphone is the bridge between the online and offline. Optimize your mobile experience by keeping omnichannel top of mind. Use in-store beacons to deliver push notifications for localized offers, or include in-app store maps to help customers navigate the aisles, delivering them to what they want when they want it.

Smartphones and other devices are changing how people interact – with each other, with the web, and with brands. Making sure your site is mobile-friendly is a good place to start, but thinking mobile-first is what will keep you ahead of the curve. One thing is clear: mobile strategy is no longer a nice-to-have. Brands must go mobile or go home.