The digital landscape has irrevocably splintered, with an emerging acute focus on the mobile market. Simply put, users now expect to receive the information they require with immediacy, accuracy and context, across multiple platforms. Naturally, with these changes in technology and customer expectations comes a shift in marketing techniques, as marketers promptly reassess their targets and strive to engage and interact with customers in stimulating new ways.

When trying to predict where this shift to mobile will lead, a definitive answer will be hard to come by, but with 1.75 billion people worldwide expected to own and actively use a smartphone by the end of 2014, the mobile industry will almost certainly continue to thrive and develop. Google has predicted that mobile searches will overtake desktop-based searches in 2015, with around 85 billion searches originating from a mobile or tablet. Similarly, spending for adverts promoted within Google’s search engine saw a 120% growth for paid mobile adverts, whereas desktop adverts registered a growth of just 2.3%

This surge in mobile-based communications creates an important opportunity for businesses to transform their customer’s perceptions of their brand, boost conversions and reach out to prospective customers by ensuring their marketing and advertising strategies are focused and their platforms are equipped to deal with enquiries from multiple devices.

Building with mobile in mind

First and foremost, businesses must begin to understand the context in which their customers use mobile devices to view their website, rather than simply transferring the existing desktop experience to hastily meet mobile demand.

Responsive design allows for a platform that responds to the user’s behaviour and environment based on their device type, screen size and orientation. As the user switches from their laptop to iPad, the website should automatically switch to accommodate the screen’s resolution, image size and scripting abilities – all whilst maintaining vital page elements from the desktop site and offering a unified user experience regardless of the user’s browsing device.

A consistent user experience will increase the likelihood that users who discover your business’ products or services on their desktop can easily make conversions on their mobile device, or vice versa, at a later date. With research suggesting that 70% of mobile searches lead to conversions on websites within one hour and websites that choose to adopt a responsive design could receive a conversion boost of 20%, it is vital that your site is optimised to be viewed on portable devices.

Crafting the mobile advert

Beyond on-page elements and design, this leaning propensity towards browsing and viewing content via mobile devices presents a potential opportunity for advertisers to capture mobile success in ways that were previously unobtainable via traditional methods. Recent statistics show that consumers spend 20% of their time consuming media via portable devices, up from 12% last year. However, advertisers are still only spending 4% of their total budget on securing mobile ads online. Print media, on the other hand, receives an injection of 19% to secure ads, despite taking up just 5% of consumers’ time on a daily basis.

Advertisers are attempting to respond to consumers’ rapidly increasing time spent with mobile devices, but there are numerous challenges that currently prevent them from reaching their goal of securing profitable mobile ads. These challenges include issues with tracking the outreach of ads and the sheer number of devices currently available on the market making it difficult for development teams to identify an appropriate landing page for a number of different devices. The latter can be remedied by businesses adapting to responsive design, thus eliminating styling and optimisation issues when the user clicks through the advert on a device that doesn’t fit the intended form factor.

At face value, tracking the efficiency of ads can be a difficult process for an advertiser. It can be challenging to measure conversions that start on one device or browser and resume on another and it can also be challenging to see if a user has made further contact with the business behind the advert, as in-person follow-ups or phone calls cannot be quantified easily via an electronic platform. However, Google has now introduced estimated cross-device conversions in AdWords to enable advertisers to track actions that start on one device and lead to a conversion on another – such as when a customer searches for a product or service on their mobile device but ultimately switches to their desktop to complete the purchase.

Mobile as a necessity

If your business is going to compete and accommodate those browsing via mobile or tablet, then first and foremost, you must understand the journey the user will take when browsing your site. Mobile users have increasingly contrasting requirements and priorities compared to those who browse via a desktop, despite them looking to achieve the same end result. If your site is designed with e-commerce in mind, you must meet your customer’s and any prospective customer’s expectations within a matter of seconds, otherwise they can very easily utilise their power of choice and venture elsewhere.

A report published in 2013 suggested that the median load time for first-time visitors to e-commerce sites was 7.04 seconds. In theory, this figure should be considerably less for a mobile version of a site, with fewer resources required to push content to the user. With this, monitoring and measuring user behaviour is vital for understanding the mobile user journey. If you are not aware of the path your customers take when viewing your website via a portable device, you cannot understand what to improve, where to improve it and why it should be done.

Tracking and analysing mobile data is vital to assess your website’s performance and more importantly, improve engagement with your audience across multiple channels. More importantly, understanding site usage patterns for mobile, desktop and tablet users is of paramount importance in an age where users are using a variety of devices to access and consume your content. The Advanced Segments feature within Google Analytics allows you to isolate these different types of traffic across numerous platforms within your reporting. The feature lets you filter device data by almost any metric available on the platform, before applying it to your reports for further analysis – allowing for a simplified method of tracking  visitor data across multiple devices.

From a design and development perspective, you must also ask yourself: Can our users navigate the mobile site easily? Are all of the elements identifiable to the user? Are there certain areas that require further attention? Are these problematic areas causing users to abandon potential purchases? These are all important questions to ask when attempting to analyse the mobile user journey, but to truly gain insight into the customer experience, you should experience the site as a potential customer and assess whether or not you would find it easy to achieve the goals you would like your customer’s to reach.

Irrespective of your focus or industry, the mobile platform is increasingly becoming an instinctive tool for millions of users. Those who embrace this shift in behaviour with immediacy and begin to deliver what their customers need and require from them on a digital level will gain a healthier advantage moving forward than those that continue to view mobile in isolation.

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