Mobile First, Is It Worth The Hype?

by Felicity Dudley on Friday 31 August 2018

I have recently read a handful of articles criticising the concept of ‘mobile first’ in that it’s not the way to deliver a product offering to customers, and therefore it would be wrong to place efforts and budgets there. Although this is not completely wrong, it’s definitely inaccurate.

 

It is a common misconception that mobile-first means mobile only. It means that there needs to be a priority for mobile in line with user activity.

 

When it comes to the ‘marketing mix’, channel habits are constantly changing, and with recent figures suggesting that 17% of purchases now take place on a mobile device, its clear that mobile-commerce is increasingly popular. PwC have estimated that mobile buying will soon surpass all desktop based buying.

 

Playing devil's advocate, the aforementioned posts, may have a point. Mobile-first on its own doesn't work, because the latest technologies work so well in collaboration, with traditional marketing mechanisms. Conventional elements of the marketing mix are certainly not obsolete, mobile is just an additional medium for consumers to connect with. Brands do not need to set up new departments to cope with this, but instead, allocate budget to mobile-first development.

 

Word of mouth marketing is integral to businesses. It always has been. This is not a new concept, it dates back centuries. The emergence of online media in an ever-connected world has made consumers obsessed with reviews and user-generated content. No different to chatting about the local butcher’s produce to your neighbour whilst picking up something from the greengrocers, just a few decades ago. The only difference is these days it’s through screens, threads, feeds and forums, documented for all to see. Mobile-first gives users more opportunity to directly see this ‘word of mouth’ reviews on search, immediately.

 

Traditionally, the marketing mix only covered product, price, place and promotion leaving no room for how this was done. Consequently, two extra elements were added to the mix to cover the service process and the people who deliver the service. Tactics. That’s all they are. By focusing on the process, there’s the opportunity for the way that marketing is produced and marketed, to be expanded. Therefore, by ensuring that sites are optimised for mobile-first, then you’re engaging in a beneficial marketing tactic to push your online marketing efforts, capitalising on the current strategy in place.

 

User experience is crucial. A badly designed website, poor optimisation, and slow load speed are all elements which can lead a user to click straight off your site within seconds of landing there (if they even get that far). In a brick-and-mortar grocery store, you wouldn’t design the aisles so that the user had to go back to the entrance to find the next aisle they’re looking for, would you? It’s the same online, the user journey has to be simple and easy to navigate, or they’ll simply get bored. Each of these elements add up to create the wider mobile-first. The faster the website, the better Google rankings, click-throughs, the more conversions on site, the list is endless. Users are more likely to engage in activity on site if the speed and design are smooth and easy to use on a smaller, more convenient device.

 

There is no doubt that traditional media channels have the power to take a user through the sales funnel, but the final purchase decision could well be made and transacted using a mobile device. Even when in store (yes, physically). How often do you go in-store and find out the product you want is actually cheaper online, or it’s not in stock so you need to order it in. The chances are that you’ll get your phone out and start the shopping process there and then, especially if it’s an essential item.

 

For example, an advert might be viewed on the TV, at the cinema, on a billboard, side of a bus, on the radio, through a favourite podcast. The difference is how the final purchase is made. 73% of users asked in the Global Web Index multi-device purchasing journey survey used a mobile or tablet device to complete a transaction.

 

However, whether the final destination is to purchase on desktop, mobile, tablet, or physically go into store, is actually relatively irrelevant. At some point during a user’s purchasing journey, it’s likely they’ll visit your website, even if just for information, and if it’s not optimised for mobile, the repercussions on your traffic, bounce rates and conversion rates will soon show.

 

To summarise: mobile first is not the only way to gain leads and to turn site traffic into conversions, making your sales sheet look pretty healthy, but it is increasingly becoming one of the most highly used channels for product/service discovery.