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Your Mobile Strategy – Why start-ups will live or die by it

Over the last four years, ownership of smartphones in the UK has leapt from 52 per cent to 83 per cent of the population.

It’s a trend replicated across the globe and figures rise even further for younger consumers. Nielsen found that in the US, 98 per cent of millennials aged 18-24 and 97 per cent of those aged 25-34 owned a smartphone. And slightly older consumers weren’t far behind with 96 per cent of 35-44 year olds owning a smartphone.

It’s hard to believe that the touchscreen smartphone, in the guise we know it now, has only been with us for around a decade, since the launch of the first iPhone in early 2007. Yet in 2016, mobile web usage overtook desktop usage for the first time. As a result, spending on mobile advertising has also overtaken advertising spend on traditional devices.

And today we use our phones for much more than calls, texts and taking photos. According to We Are Social, more than one in five of the world’s population shopped online in the past 30 days.

Now, these stats aren’t really going to surprise you. Sit in any coffee shop, workplace, or even your own living room and you’ll see people using smartphones. But the impact it’s had on our lives as consumers has been revolutionary.

Thanks to the smartphone we can research and shop for products and services any place, any time. We can book a holiday while watching television. Waiting for a train, we can sign up for insurance or buy cinema tickets. Spend five minutes catching up on social networks and you’ll be exposed to a whole host of products available to buy in just a few clicks. Our mobile phones have transformed shopping from a planned activity, scheduled in around other commitments, into an action we can complete several times a day.

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At a recent Growth Hacking World Forum, Dr Karl Blanks of Conversion Rate Experts called mobile “the new internet ecosystem”. Mobile is now the natural home of the internet, making it the first place people go to access the web.

Today, you are more likely to pick up your phone to access the internet than sit down at your desktop. It’s why Google, and other forward-thinking organisations, always build for mobile first. Some technologies don’t even make it to desktop – resulting in apps and mobile sites that perform better and have more features than their larger desktop counterparts.

Your Mobile Strategy needs to count

In response to these changes, companies have had to adapt how they view mobile technology.

In the past, while building a website, companies would remember (or would be prompted by their web agency) to make it ‘responsive for mobile’. For many, this simply meant making sure the design fitted on a smaller screen. But today, mobile is more important than ever and the most innovative companies always put mobile first because that’s what the consumer is doing. To succeed, a mobile-responsive site is no longer enough while a fully-functioning app is arguably essential.

It’s easy to underestimate the power of apps, dismissing them as simply a novelty. Yet according to Nielsen’s figures, 89 per cent of consumer time spent on smartphones is spent in mobile apps, compared to just 11 per cent in mobile web.

Why a mobile strategy is important for start-ups

We’ve seen that mobile is important for anyone marketing to consumers and particularly those selling to younger consumers. But mobile is especially important for start-ups. Let’s take a look at some of the reasons why:

Mobile allows start-ups to engage with customers

Start-up brands are usually aimed at younger consumers who are not afraid to use their smartphone to research, order and pay for goods or services. As we’ve seen, younger consumers are amongst the highest users of mobile devices. According to Deloitte, a third of 18-24 year olds use their devices ‘always’ or ‘very often’ when meeting friends, shopping or watching television.

Mobile is effective with a limited advertising budget

Start-ups must think cleverly about how to maximise their marketing budgets to gain maximum exposure for limited spend. Mobile advertising can be expensive but because it’s so targeted, it’s also incredibly cost-effective. Synchrony Financial found that 62 per cent of millennials respond to offers sent to mobile devices. And of course, when a brand uses mobile to tie into their social media strategy, they can gain amazing publicity for little or no spend.

The opportunity to start from the ground up

One big advantage start-ups have is that they are free from legacy websites and outdated technologies. Rather than trying to adapt an existing website or process for mobile, they can start from the ground up, building their first website and apps specifically for mobile.

It’s expected

Today’s consumers expect to be able to do everything from their phone. Really, it’s unthinkable for a start-up to launch without an app – or at the very least, a mobile website.

How to get the mobile experience right

Of course, it’s not enough to simply adopt a ‘build it and they will come’ approach. You need to get the mobile strategy and user experience right. Here are our top five recommendations:

1. Intuitive. Simple. Fast

The mobile experience must be straightforward. The consumer shouldn’t have to think. If they can’t work out what to do, they’ll delete the app and head off to a competitor. Make the experience enjoyable and your customer will keep buying and be prepared to recommend you to others.

2. Transparency

In our article exploring business models, we examined the importance of transparency when asking consumers to buy for the first time. This is particularly true when selling via mobile as many shoppers are less confident when using their smartphone to make purchases.

3. The importance of referrals

Make it easy for consumers to share their shopping experience with others. This might mean allowing them to easily share the news of a purchase on Facebook or Twitter or to send a voucher code onto a friend.

4. Stay up-to-date with innovation

Innovation moves more quickly on mobile than any other device so make sure you continually update the experience to make the most of new trends.

5. Invest in design

Design has to work so much harder on mobile. Limited screen space, coupled with the fact that customers are quite often multi-tasking when using their phone, means the design must be intuitive and easy to use.

Using Mobile Strategy to disrupt a market

It takes effort but get the mobile experience right and you have an amazing opportunity to disrupt existing markets that have fallen behind the latest trends.  Read our article on disruption and disruptive business models for more thoughts on this area.

Developing a genuine mobile strategy for your business is one option to help you create a genuinely unique experience for your customers – seek out expert help in app and web development to discuss your ideas.

Straight talking Mobile Strategy advice from Yorkshire Powerhouse

You’ve read our thoughts on a mobile strategy – have you any questions?

Here at Yorkshire Powerhouse, we’re happy to help as much as possible – is there anything else we can do to help you, do you have any further questions or can we help introduce you to an expert – please let us know:

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