Don’t Let “Mobile First” Steer You “Mobile Wrong”

Don't make the mistake of focusing on mobile only. Columnist Sanjay Dholakia explains why marketers need to connect with customers across multiple channels.

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The decade of mobile is finally upon us, and that’s leading many to conclude that companies and marketers must make mobile their top priority for communicating with customers.

Unfortunately, that’s mobile wrong.

Let me explain.

In an effort to be more nimble in this theoretical mobile-first world, many marketers have created tiger teams to focus on mobile and mobile development work. The only thing these groups do is concentrate on how to market to people using mobile devices.

With smartphones transforming the technology landscape, a wave of enthusiasm for mobile apps has flooded mobile tech companies with new venture capital money. As more VCs seek to capitalize on the trend, they’re pouring money into mobile-only companies to the point where many businesses literally do nothing but mobile.

Mobile First Is Not Mobile Only

The problem is that many now myopically confuse a mobile-first perspective with a mobile-only world.

Some of us may love pizza, while others spend their free time hang gliding. That doesn’t create single-dimensional “pizza only’” people or “hang gliding only” people.

The same logic applies to the idea of mobile.

People don’t live inside one or another imaginary channels, such as the mobile app. If they did, what would happen when they moved their fingers one inch to the left, clicked on a mouse and wound up in email?

Would they immediately morph into “email people?” I don’t think so. More importantly, that’s not how to engage.

If we marketers make the mistake of being mobile only, we’re just going to create disconnected experiences for people.

Mobile devices are now at the epicenter of how we experience technology, and this constitutes a revolutionary change. But from a marketing perspective, let’s not forget nuance. The device is just the device.

Imagine, if you will, that one device holds at least four different channels. What if I opened a message from a marketer in an app but then received a completely contradictory message in an email from the same company?

I would think that the sender was asleep at the switch.

A device is not the same thing as a communications channel. Marketing success depends on engaging more customers in conversations across different channels.

Consumers don’t suddenly move into silos when they switch from using mobile to email to social to the Web. Even in the digital age, people remain people.

Mo’ Better Mobile

Getting people to sign up to engage on mobile is no guarantee of getting them to use the channel. One CMO I spoke with related how they had to course-correct after creating “mobile-only moments.”

They — like many marketers — learned to engage people with a more holistic approach that connected mobile that ties together email and Web communications and listening.

We know that mobile can be a powerful channel. But a mobile app in and of itself doesn’t do anything. Its power comes when it’s used in concert with other tools that marketers have to reach people.

If you can communicate and connect the conversation from a mobile app to my email to my interactions on social and on my website — and then connect all that to ads that I might see — then you’re doing mobile right.

But if you can’t have a visit to a website trigger an email that then — if the person opens it — triggers an automatic SMS or in-app notification on mobile device a day or two later, then you’re doing mobile wrong.

If you’re thinking about “mobile first,” don’t make a mistake by getting stuck on “mobile only.”

Contributing authors are invited to create content for MarTech and are chosen for their expertise and contribution to the martech community. Our contributors work under the oversight of the editorial staff and contributions are checked for quality and relevance to our readers. The opinions they express are their own.

About the author

Sanjay Dholakia
Sanjay Dholakia is responsible for extending Marketo’s product leadership, developing business segments, and establishing a new solution ecosystem to increase the company’s reach. Sanjay joins Marketo from Crowd Factory, where as CEO, he was responsible for the strategic direction and vision of the company. Prior to Crowd Factory, Sanjay was CMO at Lithium Technologies, the leading provider of Social CRM solutions. Sanjay holds a bachelor’s degree in economics from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and an MBA in strategy and marketing from the Kellogg School of Management.

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