With over 2.5 billion smartphones on earth and the average U.S. adult spending more than three hours per day on a mobile device, the need for a mobile first strategy is clear. However, it’s not always clear what that strategy should entail.

Some say that a mobile first strategy simply means launching a mobile app or a stylish, streamlined responsive website. While those could be elements of a mobile first strategy, they’re unlikely to be enough. For the sake of your customers and your business, we have to dig deeper.

The key to developing an effective mobile first strategy is to develop an informed understanding of your customers and their options, determine your business goals and how you’ll measure them and define clear use cases based on the customer journey.

Understanding Your Customers & Their Options

Effective mobile first strategies focus on your customers, not just on the devices they're using.

  • Who are your customers? 
  • How do they accomplish their goals? 
  • What device(s) and channels do they use to accomplish their goals? 
  • Where do they run into problems? 

Talk to your customers and prospects to develop a deeper understanding of who they are and how they engage with your business. Look at your existing analytics to see which devices access which pages of your existing website and where the drop-offs occur.

Don’t assume you already understand your audience, especially in terms of mobile. While assumptions about mobile users being harried, time-sensitive and always on-the-go are often true, they are not exclusively true across all industries, demographics, contexts or your unique use case. 

Performing market research and usability testing is critical to understanding your unique audience’s needs and behaviors in a given time and place.

Similarly, it’s important to develop a thorough understanding of your competition. Analyze what they’re doing well in mobile and is worth emulating, and what they’re doing poorly or entirely ignoring, which could lead to opportunities for you to outshine them.

Virgin America is a market leader in mobile. While some of that can be credited to their responsive website and mobile app, what’s really driving their approach and success is a deep understanding of their customers and the context of what their customers are trying to accomplish at any given point.

Defining Your Business Goals & KPIs

Clearly defining your goals and Key Performance Indicators will help you measure the effectiveness of your strategy. Your goals and KPIs will be unique to your business but generally the focus is on company metrics and mobile metrics.

Company metrics

  • Revenue
  • Market share 
  • Net Promoter Score
  • Cost savings 

Mobile metrics 

  • Mobile traffic
  • Conversion rate
  • Usage 
  • Engagement activities 

If a mobile app is part of your strategy, you’ll want to track app-specific KPIs such as downloads, users, lifetime value and retention rate. 

Start with the business goals you want to achieve, then determine the best way to measure them.

Defining Your Use Cases 

Based on the research you’ve done to understand your customers, you can now create personas, representations of the goals and behaviors of each type of customer. Then, map out each persona’s ideal journey with your business. 

This journey could include mobile, email, social media, phone calls, printed communications, store visits, digital self-service, SMS, Facebook Messenger and other methods.

For each of these interactions, consider:

  • What is the goal of this interaction?
  • Are we accounting for the most crucial devices at this touchpoint?
  • Where will the customer be, physically, when they take this action?
  • How will we test the efficacy of this use case and make adjustments if needed?

One Final Thought

When viewing market data about mobile and considering finite resources, it can be tempting to think we live in a mobile world, so let’s focus exclusively on mobile. In other words, “mobile first” essentially becomes “mobile only.” This could be the right choice or it could be a very poor choice if your customers switch devices to complete specific tasks as they engage with you. Look to your data to guide you, and don’t build on mobile at the expense of other core touchpoints.

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