Go Mobile or Stay Home

Let’s be honest, mobile is everywhere! Though, why shouldn’t it be, since 91% of U.S. citizens have their mobile device within reach 24/7? The way consumers connect with brands and each other is changing because of the explosive growth of mobile over the recent years. This has created exciting opportunities and new channels for marketers, but definitely doesn’t come without its challenges. Smartphone users, armed with 24/7 internet access, location-finding software and an ever-growing list of social media outlets, continue to demand immediate attention to their needs, personalized offers and more ways to voice their opinions.

I have been involved heavily in mobile for the last few years through adding a mobile element into my marketing campaigns, co-founding SnapBatch, a real-time gamification mobile platform for sports teams, and advising another mobile startup, QuickQuestion. Next month, I am teaching a mobile workshop at the University of Akron.  In order to get ready for this workshop, I wanted to get some true insight into what is shaping mobile strategies from an agency perspective. The following are excerpts from my conversation with Matt Rumer, Lead UX and Senior Art Director at AKHIA Public Relations and Marketing Communication, located in Hudson, OH.

A brief bio on my contributor:

Matt Rumer is a graduate from The University of Akron, BFA and is currently attending Kent State University pursuing a UXD Masters of Science. As the Lead UX and Senior Art Director at AKHIA, Matt has experience in both B2B and B2C markets, with a variety of clients, large and small, in multiple industries. He specializes in creating user-centered designs and experiences that meet business objectives and user goals.

Matt, give me your thoughts on the rise of mobile marketing over the last few years.

“I think it is safe to say that this thing called “mobile” isn’t going away anytime soon. Thanks to the advances in technology over the years, mobile usage continues to increase while creating a more sophisticated and demanding user. Being able to identify the user’s objectives and needs from a brand and then being able to create a multiscreen experience gives marketers more power than ever before. Brands have been forced to think more real-time when exploring mobile as a viable part of their marketing strategy or if they are looking to dive into developing a mobile app. Speaking of mobile apps, I have noticed “utility” is now becoming a buzz-word for mobile now—fancy apps are nice, but apps that have some sort of functional purpose are desired.”

Where should mobile fit into a marketing strategy? Should it have a solid place?

“In a perfect world, mobile should fit at the very start of any marketing strategy. When we build or redesign a website, we always think ‘mobile first.’ Why? Look at the statistics on how many consumers are reading email on their phones, checking websites or just doing general searches. Unfortunately, companies don’t know where to start adding mobile to their business strategies and as always, budgets and resources come in to play. Therefore, I would have to say the placement of mobile into a marketing strategy is based off of a case-by-case basis according to the resources of a given company.”

Where does a mobile strategy begin?

“A mobile strategy should begin at the very start, or discovery phase, of any marketing strategy. Setting the tone of mobile upfront will help clear the path and open opportunities throughout the marketing plan.”

Are you focusing more on mobile strategy as part of your overall PR/branding/marketing proposals?

“I think it is apparent that mobile is essential to any marketing strategy within a corporation. Though timing and budget may set limitations, I am recommending mobile as part of all proposals (where applicable), even if it has to become a phased approach within the strategy.”

Should companies be looking at a mobile app?  Why or why not?

“There is not a canned ‘yes’ or ‘no’ when it comes to whether or not a company should invest in a mobile app. Though a mobile app can help assist in rounding out a brand’s multiscreen experience—it must make sense for the brand. Too often I see companies building apps in order to, well, have an app. They don’t always have a business or user objective in mind and that is when apps fail. It is important to first identify a need for an app then aligning that need that aligns the business and the user. As I mentioned earlier, the more recent push for app building is around utility: what kind of app can you build that will be helpful for your target audience.  I always think about consumers having their top five or ten apps they use on a regular basis and how hard it would be to break into those top lists. That’s the way I want our clients to think: can your app really provide a useful service or is it just a ‘nice to have?’”

How are you approaching UX and mobile with your clients?

“I find that the best way to approach the topic of UX and mobile with clients is by educating them. A lot of clients know they need an easy to use mobile approach but they don’t know exactly what to do and where to start. By educating them on how the principles of user experience can help align with their business objectives and the objectives of the user, we can start to roadmap a successful mobile approach. We have developed a very unique approach at AKHIA that does a great job of walking the client through the entire UX process to capitalize on their strengths as well as identify any potential pitfalls prior to any build.”

How important is having your website or even your “brand” be mobile-ready when pushing marketing out?

“From a selfish standpoint, I would say having your website/brand mobile-ready is extremely important. Think about it, even if your audience is primarily desktop users, you may still have a percentage of mobile users. Why limit your audience to the devices they use and potentially turn away new business? If the opportunity is there, it may be best to take it!”

General question, what apps should marketers know about and/or use personally or for their companies?

“Marketers should keep up on mobile strategy in the news and industry publications just as much as other topics in marketing. Mobile is a viable part of the integrated marketing strategy and learning about shifts in app strategy, like the utility focus, or apps that could help a marketer track current programs or identify new opportunities is important.”

What are your favorite apps right now?

–        Spotify

–        Linkedin

–        RetailMeNot

–        Amazon

–        JEFIT

What are your thoughts about newer technologies like “wearables” as marketing outlets?

“I would be lying if I said I was not excited and intrigued by newer technologies to complement mobile, like wearables. These newer technologies are starting to open the door to new kinds of thinking and possibilities—all around real-time response. Though I feel other technologies are still doing more of the heavy lifting, I think wearables will soon follow. Wearables are newer to the market and I have not seen a ton of business objectives for their use. Once those objectives are defined, wearables will quickly find their place.”

If you have any questions on how to best think mobile from a marketer’s point of view or how an agency is thinking mobile for their clients, feel free to email me at jeffrey_staats@msn.com or Matt at matt.rumer@akhia.com. If you want to learn more about Akhia, visit www.akhia.com.

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