Mobile is not an island – it is key to engagement

Forrester predicts that the mobile wave will engulf us all and than one billion smart phones will be in circulation by 2016. As smart phones increase in number, so does their effect, and woe betide the company that is not preparing for the coming deluge.

In many cases, the mobile user is becoming a specific type of user, a distinct breed from the ‘standard’ PC user, who will only engage with you via their phone.

For many, the principle form of engagement will increasingly become via mobile. Principal analyst at Forrester, Ted Schadler makes the point perfectly, “Mobile is the new face of engagement. Businesses should stop thinking about it as a small website on a tiny computer, and start thinking about mobile as being deeply embedded systems of engagement.”

It is no longer enough, or even right, to think of the mobile user as only requiring a subset of the functionality and content of the standard digital offering. If the only way someone will interact with you is via a mobile device then that does not mean what is on offer should be limited.

The mobile user has hurdles to overcome, and distinct needs and usage patterns that need to be considered to capitalise on users ‘on-the-move’ mentality. Firstly, the user interface (UI) has to accommodate the restrictions of smaller screens. In the case of Apple’s iOS, Flash content cannot be accessed, which while it may be in its death throes is still a common delivery medium.

The mobile user provides us with much more than their deskbound counterparts. Brands should reward the knowledge they provide about their location and time of interaction by delivering meaningful and useful messages and services. In some ways they are a super set of the traditional user, so perhaps brands should deliver the full website package as well as additional benefits.

When a user interacts with a brand or company, each interaction or touch-point should be seen as part of a complete process, a spectrum of interaction. Every interaction, be it with the actual product or the brand representatives, social considerations and interpretation of the brand plays a part and influences the consumer’s perception and behaviour.

So while the mobile experience should not be the poor partner of the PC experience, neither should it exist in isolation from it. Interaction is a continuum, where the historic engagements play their part in current and future actions and reactions. The digital offering, which is not only cognisant of this history but adaptive to it, is far more powerful than an island of interaction.

When developing today’s mobile strategy it should weave its way through all parts of the digital strategy and indeed, the complete marketing and sales strategy. Assigning responsibility for the mobile strategy to one department will not work.

As Karl Heiselman, author of “Game Changers”, puts it in a recent Fact Company article, “Companies are only valuable if they prove themselves useful, time and again. Viewed with that lens, most companies come up short. What’s interesting is that, on the client side, it’s never anybody’s job to own the customer experience. Some people think about pieces of it, but it’s nobody’s job to think about it in any kind of joined-up way.”

‘Joined up thinking’ is such a tired expression, but from a user’s experience they are dealing with one entity through many touch points and mediums. They do not see or expect a mobile interaction to differ in quality and value from a marketing engagement, sales experience or an after sales encounter. Consumers increasingly expect the company or brand to know them and their previous encounters. As mobile is taking a leading role we have to rethink our digital priorities, and ensure it is no longer consigned as a niche activity and make it a prime element in the spectrum of engagement. Get ready to take advantage and ride the wave, or else get soaked.

Tunde Cockshott is Creative Consultant at Amaze