Rules of Mobile Mayhem: Things to Remember as You Plan a Mobile Presence

I recently came across a video of poet and storyteller Rives presenting his poem “If I Controlled the Internet” at TEDSalon 2006.

My, how things have changed in 5 years. 2006 was pre-iPhone, back when the likes of RIM were still on top and Apple was clambering for market share while expanding its retail presence. With the recent news of RIM’s planned layoffs to “reshape” into a company better fitted to handle the upcoming release of new BlackBerry handhelds, changes in the marketplace over the last 5 years have muddied the waters for organizations hoping to market their products or services.

Utterly Orange has previously covered the difficulties associated with mobile marketing or application development due to the complicated marketplace, and there are some lessons to be learned. Consider these concepts as your plan your mobile presence:

#1 Innovation Wins
RIM is dying, slowly losing market share point by point, and it has no one else to blame but itself. It provided a functional product with marginal innovation. RIM geared its product toward business use, ignoring consumer-side impulses.

Which came first, the chicken or the egg, or in this case, the smartphone or the mobile functions? Mobile functions cover a broad range of features, from mobile applications to mobile-friendly websites to carrier-side, location-aware services that tie in with SMS. We know that the analysts and cell carriers planned the growth of the mobile market, and the proof was in the ramp up to the bigger and faster mobile data connections we sort of have today, but was it the smartphone or the pipes that came first? Answer: iPhone. Yeah, yeah. We hear you––the iPhone isn’t the answer to every question, but user understanding and subsequent adoption is a tremendously large part of the success of a new product. Add some level of innovation to the mix, and you have a recipe for massive growth––or at least it has looked that way over the last 5 years with the iPhone and iPad. Now both devices were and are not perfect by any means. Both have critical features that are still missing, and some design and user interface choices give the edge to some of their competitors.

Twitter and Foursquare had no competitors before each started as a tiny start-up. A creative idea coupled with a powerful, functional mobile device helped expand the adoption of both applications. Regardless, the bar was raised with the release of iOS and its intuitive features. Innovation won and keeps winning as judged by Android’s taking top seat as the leading mobile operating system.
Keep innovation in mind as you consider the right mix of mobile functions for your marketing (and communications) efforts. Providing something new or innovative captures attention and stands out from the tumultuous sea of marketing attempts that users deal with every day via multiple mediums.

#2 Do It Right
Google “failed mobile marketing.” You will find hundreds of examples from the blogosphere, media, and trade journals of failures in mobile marketing. From the ever present QR that points to a company’s non-mobile-friendly homepage to “follow us” with the bird and blue F slapped below all new advertising and marketing collateral, failed use of new mobile functions is prevalent.

Do it right, meaning hire the right people or look at the leaders and users of these mobile functions inside your organization to help you get oriented. None of these mobile functions are inherently complicated. Once you begin to hone your ideas, you may want to bring in stronger firepower, but leverage your resources––whether they be inside or outside––to get the key people up to speed on what constitutes the successful use of these powerful mobile features and avoid what could be an #epicfail.

The disadvantage of waiting to enter the mobile arena this late is that so many have already created mobile functions that are totally awesome. Users know what to expect and can sniff out amateur efforts quickly. Missing the mark on the execution of a mobile effort can spell long-term negative effects for your brand.

#3 Follow the Data
Good news: the Internet gives you a lot of data about your customers. A well-set up website can give you insight into how your customers interact with your existing web presence. Dive deep into the areas of your analytic platform that provide details on mobile traffic, network properties, and browser capabilities. For example, mobile traffic can give you an idea of the percentage of users who access your website via mobile browsers.

Additionally, use existing contact points to determine how existing users interact with your web presence. Ask them their preferences. Remember, users with mobile devices are looking for an intuitive, easy-to-use mobile function that makes their lives easier or simplifies an existing process that they complete with your organization. If you are considering developing a mobile app and can’t decide between iOS, Android, BlackBerry, or some flavor of Windows for smartphones, spend some time in your analytic platform and look at the device types used. Follow your data to make an innovative mobile function and do it right.

One more thing. Take a risk. Twitter was a risk, as was Foursquare, but the risk was taken and now they both are successful products. The overhead required to make a mobile function will vary dramatically, and the recession doesn’t help when scouring for some extra cash, but it’s still the Wild West in many ways. The risk could be wildly successful and bring your product or company to the forefront of the market.

What is your first step (or next step) in expanding your company’s mobile presence? Let us know your thoughts or questions via a comment and join the conversation.

Author: John Carew

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