As the digital revolution continues to prosper, new developments in technology occur every day that companies are expected to rapidly adopt, to survive in the digital age. Mobile internet usage has become a major touchpoint for B2B and B2C operations, so much so that it is surpassing accessing the internet via desktops and laptops. This article outlines the shifts in mobile search and the importance of implementing a mobile first strategy as a part of a well rounded business solution.
The Rise of Mobile Search
With their rapid technological advances, smartphones are increasingly becoming more than just a vehicle for communication, but a main personal computer with the ability to access information, entertainment and experiences instantly. As a result of this, laptops and desktops are no longer the core tool for accessing the internet. Mobile devices are a better suit for today’s ‘on demand’ culture and the main touchpoint for businesses, consumers and all stakeholders.
To put this in perspective, usage of mobile devices grew to 7.9 billion in 2015, and a sizable 563 million mobile devices and connections were added to the global usage data. Of this total, smart devices made up 36% and accounted for 89% of the mobile data traffic, delivering 14 times more traffic than non-smart devices (ref1).
In 10 countries, including the US, more Google searches take place on mobile devices than on desktop computers and laptops (ref2). In fact, 82% of smartphone users consult their device in store on purchases they are about to make, and 91% of users when in the middle of a task, turn to their phone for ideas (ref3).
As the usage statistics rise more and more, companies are shifting to mobile first strategies to address the growing consumer demand for this platform.
What is Mobile First?
The idea of the mobile first strategy is to begin your web design process with the mobile platform, with the minimum and optimal amount of features effective for user functionality. Then, continue adding functionality as you design for devices with more capabilities and bigger screens, such as tablets, laptops and PC’s. This strategy ensures that all your users will experience the optimal amount of interaction with your message or system, with the minimum amount of chrome. Devices no matter how limited will already have the most important functionality, will be of a high performance level for each device and provide the best user experience. With usage statistics growing everyday, it is imperative that businesses have a strong mobile first strategy in place to compete in the global marketplace.
How Globally Recognised Brands Have Used a Mobile First Strategy.
Performed effectively, a mobile first strategy improves sales, productivity, customer loyalty and market share. Looking at Google’s Adwords overhaul is one of the best examples of how to significantly improve user experience through the mobile first strategy. The Adwords revamp places its major features in a simple format, optimized for screen sizes of smartphones and mobile devices. The upgrade offers bid adjustments for each device type, responsive ads auto-designed by Google, and local optimization. This recognition and action by Google more than reiterates the importance of adapting to the shift of mobile browsing.
China’s search engine, Baidu prides itself on being a ‘mobile first’ company when making the move in 2014 after noticing the mobile search behaviour trend. Spokesman, Kaiser Kuo told TechCrunch, “everything we do begins with mobile and takes priority over our PC products” (ref4). Baidu partners with wifi providers, mobile device makers, international startups and premium carmakers to expand the business. The company’s effort are not to go unnoticed with mobile now accounting for 62% of Baidu’s revenue, up from 50% in 2015 (ref5).
Online payments system PayPal is also adopting a mobile first strategy through the development of new mobile services as well as upgrading existing platforms to boost user experience. Mobile accounted for 30% of PayPals total transactions in 2015 (ref6). The strategy includes expanding its one-click checkout feature, One Touch and revamping its back-end technology for an increased processing speed, and finally, strengthening its mobile in-store business due to the success of its subsidiary, Paydiant.
With Zuckerberg’s decision to revamp its mobile approach in 2012, mobile became Facebook’s main priority. He gave each team mobile engineers and developers so that updates and new features were consistent and regular throughout desktop, tablet and mobile. Engineers also attended week-long iOS and Android classes on campus. Various user features have since been added or upgraded specifically for mobile including newsfeed redesign, the ability to add photos to Facebook comments, and autoplay of videos. As of 2015, mobile advertising accounted for 76% of revenue and has seen a significant increase in mobile-only users (ref7).
What Do the Naysayers Think?
Despite the blindingly obvious success for businesses so far, adopting a mobile first strategy has also been known to have its drawbacks. Because the smartphone screen is smaller, there is limited space for ads compared to desktop advertising. However we fail to see the limited space as a negative point, as this leaves minimal clutter and deeper consideration about what consumers really want to see.
Alan Trefler, CEO of Pegasystems (NASDAQ:PEGA) warns against mobile first, stating companies are rushing to stay current (ref8) and consequently buckling under the pressure of implementing a mobile first strategy, leading to inconsistent user experiences over the web, person-to-person contact, and physical stores. Over half of all Internet traffic stems from mobile devices, and a report from telecom firm, Ericsson, predicts this will rise to 90% by 2021 (ref9). So while Alan Trefler’s opinion is not completely absurd, and not every company’s efforts to implement a mobile first strategy is successful, the shift to mobile search is an enduring trend that can simply not be ignored.
Do You Have a Mobile First Strategy Yet?
What does all this mean for your business? It means having the opportunity to take advantage of the smartphone trend, the ability to have the world instantly access your brand and content anywhere, to be a part of the connected world, and to leave users with a synergistic, positive experience engaging with your company.
The Steps You Can Take to Creating a Mobile First Strategy.
If you’re now left wondering where to start, begin with these steps to creating a mobile first strategy:
- Consider what the most important content, functions and aesthetics are when condensing your website for a mobile or tablet
- Make your platform usability simple and clear – users value the internet for its speed and convenience, they are turned off when they can’t find what they are looking for quickly
- Transform your website to be adaptable on any screen users access it from
- Remember the mobile first approach is the user focussed approach!
- Test your mobile site on real devices
- Conduct user testing for feedback
- Enhance based on user feedback
The team at Inspire will guide you through these steps, develop and implement a detailed mobile first strategy for your business, and ultimately, optimize your digital presence in today’s competitive online sphere.
Contact us for a consultation about your mobile first strategy today.
- Cisco. (2016, February 1). Cisco Visual Networking Index: Global Mobile Data Traffic Forecast Update, 2015–2020 White Paper.
- Google. (2015, May 5). Building for the next movement.
- Lawson, Matt. (2015, September). Win Every Micro-Moment With a Better Mobile Strategy.
- Bonfils, Michael. (2015, June 18). Why Baidu’s International Mobile Strategy Will Change Everything.
- CIW Team. (2016, August 3). Baidu’s mobile search MAUs reached 667m in June 2016.
- Bakker, Evan. (2016, July 22). Paypal is now a standalone company with a mobile-first strategy.
- Rosoff, Matt. (2015, November 6). Facebook is officially a mobile-first company.
- McKendrick, Joe (2014, May 29). Why Mobile-First May Not Be The Best Strategy After All.
- Greengard, Samuel. (2016, May 26). A Mobile-First Strategy Can Reimagine Business.