Rethinking Your Mobile Audience

To hear some marketers talk, you’d think people who access websites from a mobile device were some kind of exotic subspecies.

  • “The mobile user is on the go,” marketers will say. “So, they only really need maps to our store locations and store hours.”
  • “The mobile user loves deals,” marketers will say. “So, they want QR codes and mobile coupons.”
  • “The mobile user doesn’t read much,” marketers will say. “So, let’s cut all this content about what we do and why we do it from the mobile site.”

Not only are these assumptions often wrong, they’re also a weak foundation upon which to build a marketing strategy.

photo credit: Highways Agency via photopin cc
Your company doesn’t actually have a “mobile user,” — just users who access your website using an ever increasing number of diverse devices. To lump them into such broad categories as “at home,” and “on the go,” (these days, people spend a lot of time in between the two) does a disservice to you both.

Mobile, first.

For some audiences, mobile is not only their primary way of accessing your company’s website, it may be the only way they are accessing it. So, avoid the temptation to offer two different content experiences based on your assumptions.

When you offer some visitors a tightly curated, bastardized version of your site, instead of the whole thing, you may inadvertently provide a sub-par experience for…

  • Second-screen viewers: An increasing number of people access the mobile web from the comfort of their homes, (particularly when they are watching TV) — even when there is a desktop computer just down the hall from them. With the explosion of tablet sales this past Christmas, expect that number to increase.
  • Audience of color: Among audiences of color, mobile is increasingly their primary way of accessing the web. Two-thirds of Asian-Americans, 57 percent of Hispanics, and 53 percent of African-Americans own smartphones.
  • Low income users: About 40 percent of people in households earning less than $30,000 say they go online mostly through their phones. This trend is even stronger in developing countries within Asia and Africa. For example, almost half the population of Bangladesh has access to mobile phones.
  • Younger audiences: According to a 2012 PEW Internet study, among adults 18-29 who use the Internet on their phones, 45 percent do most of their web surfing there. This is also true for teen audiences for whom the desktop computer belongs to mom and dad, while their phone serves as their personal gateway to the web.
  • Older audiences: Baby Boomers account for 40 percent of the marketplace when it comes to purchasing new technology, and own more smartphones than any other demographic. They are also one of the largest growing markets for tablets.
  • Disabled audiences: The availability and demand for included and third-party assistive technologies on many smartphones has encouraged an increasing number of users with disabilities to make the shift to mobile devices.

What’s notable about all of these audiences is that their use of mobile is not based on where they are, but on who they are.

That’s where your marketing strategy needs to start, too.

Jennifer Kane
Jennifer Kane is a marketing/communications strategist with more than 15 years of experience working with B2B and B2C companies. She has nearly two decades of public speaking, education and training experience and speaks nationally on topics related to social media, content marketing and digital communications. She is Principal of Kane Consulting, a 10-year-old firm that helps companies use social media and other digital technologies to improve their marketing, communications, sales and customer service. Jennifer runs a popular business book club in Minneapolis and manages the "Spinal Fusions Suck" social community on Facebook. In her spare time, she thinks a lot about the zombie apocalypse and the awkwardness of writing about oneself in third person.
Jennifer Kane
Jennifer Kane

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