How to Avoid Common Pitfalls in Your Mobile Strategy

8/13/10

Mobile presents an enormous opportunity. Pick your supporting statistic—from 2013 as the tipping point for mobile to eclipse the desktop (comScore) to Gartner’s prediction that 2010 will see the mobile advertising market grow to $1.6 billion. However you want to look at it, mobile is an opportunity that can’t be missed.

Unfortunately, mobile is also the most misused medium we’ve ever experienced, and the misuse, I believe, will unfortunately continue.

The danger in misusing mobile is that your application (or whatever you are putting “on” mobile) will simply fail to attract users. Many have shared with me that their app has been used once or twice and abandoned shortly thereafter. That is not surprising given that only 5 percent of mobile applications are used 30 days after the initial download. Others that have chosen the mobile web approach have seen visitors but little to no real engagement from mobile users.

In short, making the wrong assumptions while creating your mobile strategy can doom your mobile application to the app store graveyard and your mobile website to languish somewhere on the internet.

Over the past year working with companies on mobile strategy, we have seen (and helped create) three nifty ways to overcome these pitfalls:

Don’t make mobile a mirror of your online experience. The pitfall: A company tries to cram everything on its website into their mobile offering, because they can’t figure out which part of their website to give up on. Instead, you need to research and identify the top 2-5 activities that users need when they are using a mobile device. Eliminate the clutter and you’re giving your target customers a better, richer, more meaningful mobile experience.

Tailor your mobile offering to the scenarios in which your customers will use it. Typical purchase scenarios differ; for example, when potential customers turn to mobile e-commerce, they have less time for browsing, shopping, and buying. In most cases, the mobile user is multi-tasking; shopping while waiting in line somewhere, walking, etc. This mobile user can be interrupted at any time. Therefore, a quick and easy experience is most vital to completing a mobile e-commerce sale, even if you have to make a trade-off on options or other bells and whistles.

Clearly identify what the unique mobile needs of your customers are (hint: different from how you sell to desktop users). The same customer acts differently using mobile. Do you know what your target, prospect, or existing customer wants from your mobile offering? If you don’t, you’re likely to spend time, money, and energy creating a mobile offering that sits unused.

Succeeding with a mobile offering should not be left up to serendipity. Success takes forethought, planning, research, and most importantly, an understanding of your unique, specific mobile customer. Tremendous potential exists in mobile offerings, but these offerings need to be carefully tailored to the unique mobile environment.

[This post also appears on the High Start Group blog---Eds.]

Nitzan Shaer is the founding partner of High Start Group, a Boston-area consulting firm focused on online and mobile services. Previously he worked at Skype, Microsoft, and a number of consumer technology startups. Follow @

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