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Digital marketing isn't a question of mobile vs. desktop, it's about maximizing both... but mobile first.

Why Mobile-First is the New Normal and What It Means for Your Business

Do you ever stop to think about just how common smartphones and mobile devices have become?

Back in 2011, it was still notable when a friend got an iPhone or a Blackberry. For the younger generations coming of age, smartphone adoption was a sea change that just happened.

Seven years later, though, “smartphone” is a term that almost seems passé in our mobile-first world.

Mobile is everywhere, and it’s here to stay. 

“Over two-thirds of Canadians own and use a smartphone.”

Let’s look at the numbers: statistically speaking, 69.8% of Canadians used a smartphone in 2017. That’s 25,556,000 Canadian cell phone users.

As a point of comparison, Canada’s population topped out at 36.29 million in 2016. That’s right, over two-thirds of Canadians own and use a smartphone or similar mobile device.

But what does this mean for your business? In short, everything. If you’re not mobile-first, you’re at risk of coming in last.

Mobile-first's effects can be felt in the world of e-commerce, too, and has implications for broader digital marketing strategies.

Consumers are going mobile for their shopping needs more and more often.

Everyone’s Mobile, Including Your Customers

Studies show that we check our smartphones around 150 times a day. That breaks down to a phone check every six minutes.

That’s a ton of time, but on average, brands only spend around 12% of their ad budgets on mobile initiatives.

But research shows that nearly half of all consumers start the e-commerce journey with a mobile search. Furthermore, over 60% of users abandon mobile sites they have trouble accessing.

“A responsive website is often the make-or-break moment for your users.”

Couple this fact with Google’s emphasis on responsive web design, and it’s clear that a strong mobile presence is a must.

Simply put, a responsive website (one that accommodates all screen types and sizes) is a key factor in SEO and is also often the make-or-break moment for your users. Remember, the consumer journey is often fickle and can’t be boiled down to a simple A-to-B journey.

Embrace the fact that the customer journey can start at any interaction with your brand! How often do you check your mail on your phone?

Even if an email serves as the starting point, your site needs to be able to stand up to a user’s scrutiny when they click through on their phone.

Beyond Mobile Optimization

We’ve touched on it already, but mobile optimization starts with responsive design. A whopping 57% of search traffic comes from mobile devices already, though. As a result, Google’s long-discussed mobile-first index is expected to drop this year.

Digital marketing must account for the massive role mobile plays in the consumer journey.

Mapping the consumer journey is an even greater challenge with mobile in the mix.

What does this mean for your business?

Depending on your website’s design and architecture, you might already be in good standing.

Mobile-first design and development don’t come at the expense of desktop rankings, after all. If your site responds to all screens and devices, you’re already halfway there.

“What are your users searching for on mobile that brings them to your website?”

The next step? Thinking about how a user interacts with your brand and adapting accordingly, a must for your digital marketing strategies. What are they searching for on a mobile device that brings them to your website?

Remember, the customer journey is notoriously hard to define in a digital space. When you add in mobile devices, it gets even harder.

Maybe they open a link to your site on their phone and save it for later. Maybe they’re making an impulse purchase. Maybe they want to see what you’re all about before they drop by a brick-and-mortar location.

Whatever the case, maintaining a consistent (and personalized) experience is a must.

Putting It In Perspective

By now you’re probably exhausted by the word “mobile.” But here’s the thing: mobile is no longer an option. It’s the norm.

Your mobile marketing strategy isn’t a supplement to your traditional digital approaches. It’s the focus.

Keeping pace and putting in the effort will pay off. Like smartphones, we’re in the midst of another sea change as digital marketing and e-commerce shift massively once more.

Mobile-first is the new normal.