Virtually every day new research comes out underscoring the rapid consumer shift to mobile. The latest data comes from Pew Research, with data showing that 78% of teens own a mobile phone and 47% own a smartphone. Businesses of all sizes are scrambling to figure out how to adjust their marketing efforts to capitalize on/survive mobile. There’s a surfeit of online chatter about the importance of building mobile marketing campaigns and the need for “mobile first” marketing strategies. This comes as no surprise; I’m old enough to remember when businesses were having the same debate over the necessity of building a website. Though there are still a number of very small businesses that do not have websites, you’d be hard pressed to find any company of significance that does not have a web presence in 2013.
THE INTERNET OF THINGS
The Internet is not going away; in fact, it’s rapidly growing. Advances in technology are paving the way for the “Internet of things,” a world where virtually everything around us will be connected in some way to the net. In the Internet of things, almost every business is going to need a fully integrated online presence that includes – and does hide from or silo – mobile.
It’s important to remember that the term “mobile” refers to a set of devices, not a movement or a culture. An argument could be made that the term “digital” has sufficient breadth to be regarded as a cultural movement or a new way of thinking. The term “mobile,” on the other hand, refers to an enabling technology or access point to the digital realm – a world in which the fundamental anchor is the Internet.
For mobile to be defined in terms other than “device,” say as “location,” marketers would have to start re-classifying their analytical metrics, somehow tracking location-based, rather than device-based, consumer behavior. But how would one do this? What would an organizing principle or classification system based on location even look like? Isn’t a stationary location, such as the desk at work where ones PC resides, a location too?
More confounding still, the convergence of Internet-enabled devices (smartphones are getting bigger, tablets smaller, laptops with touchscreen capabilities, etc.), weakens our ability to classify based on device, “mobile” or otherwise. Google support of device agnosticism in the recent switch to Adwords Enhanced Campaigns could be regarded as a tacit acknowledgement of this new integrated reality.
As device sizes converge for the anywhere, anytime consumer, the Internet remains the only constant in the chaos. Increasingly, the Internet will serve as the sole organizing principle for all mobile (and most digital) devices.
Admittedly, mobile technologies such as SMS text, native apps, and geofences work offline. However, the majority of non-telephone mobile device usage relies on an Internet connection. This is especially true for any kind of meaningful aggregation of “big data” from mobile devices.
From a business marketing perspective, these arguments lead to two broad conclusions:
- The company website is a brand’s primary or secondary (for some, social is the primary) hub – the core of its online presence,
- As such, every brand should have a website that is fully optimized for as many mobile devices as possible.
From here, one is left only to decide the best approach to website optimization for mobile. In my opinion, it is Responsive Web Design.
Responsive Web Design resolves a number of issues for businesses. Designing responsively eliminates the need to create a separate mobile site, saving time and money. It also provides users with a seamless experience across devices, offering the same information no matter how they access a brand’s website. This helps companies maintain brand integrity by delivering consistent messaging to any web user.
Like the Internet, mobile is not going away, at least not in the foreseeable future. Most companies, especially small businesses, are pressed for time and resources. The prospect of grappling with the complexities of marketing over innumerable mobile devices is daunting, often leading to inertia.
With Responsive Web Design, brands can integrate mobile into their online presence to create a truly cohesive user experience, an experience focused on people rather than on devices.
Isn’t that the whole point?