Go Mobile or Go Home: The Rise of the Phone First World
April 16, 2013 Leave a comment
by Chris Brogan
I suspect I already know something about you. Your smartphone is probably right beside your pillow, or at least, not more than two feet away from your head while you sleep. You reach for it first thing in the morning. You never leave the house without it. You put it on the table at breakfast, like a gunslinger. You’re even starting to do some business functions with it. More than once, that special someone in your life has told you to pay attention to him or her and not your phone, right? If this is true for you, it is also true for your distributors in the field and for their customers.
It’s clear that the world is moving toward more and more digital relationships. The question is, Are you, as the business owner and collaborator with your distributors and customers, moving with it? It’s imperative that decision makers in your company be focused upon asking the right questions about how mobile interactions are and will be conducted. The first step could be taking a look at your own company site using a mobile device. Are you happy with what you see?
According to commentary at Pew Internet: Mobile, from the Pew Research Center’s Pew Internet & American Life Project (www.pewinternet.org), 55 percent of adult cell owners use the Internet on their mobile phones—nearly double what they found only three years ago. In fact, a report from NPD DisplaySearch forecasts that by the end of this year, 30 million more tablets will have shipped than notebook computers.
Yet, in a recent survey by Crain Communications Inc., 80 percent of websites aren’t mobile friendly, and only 4 percent are built to be what’s called “mobile responsive,” meaning they look good on your smartphone as well as the desktop. It’s clear from the data that although many people may be having meetings about what they should do with mobile access, most have still to act on their plans.
But the mobile trend is not going away. In fact, it increases every day. I call this phenomenon the “Phone First World.” As the number of smartphones and tablets increases, it simply means the number of your distributors and their customers who utilize the Internet by way of their mobile phones also increases.
Let’s talk about what you should do about it.
For basic functionality, your website should detect whether a visitor is arriving via a mobile device, and display that version instead of your full website. Why? Because your full website wasn’t designed to display well on a tiny screen—it was designed for a desktop or laptop, whose screens are big and can display a great deal of information at once. It’s really that basic. If users are forced to view something that doesn’t render well on their phone, what do you suspect they will do? They will move on.
Instagram and Pinterest are two of the fastest-growing social sharing sites for images. If what you sell is something that is well-served by photos, making good ones available to your field for posting on those sites can help them with lead generation. Both of them are very much phone-first types of experiences. In fact, you can’t even post to Instagram from your desktop—you must use a mobile device.
Additionally, mobile devices are the No. 1 place for people to check their email. The trend over the past few years has been to make email more attractive, with lots of design and graphics. This practice only creates headaches, however, for people reading emails on their mobile screens. Mobile-friendly email should be the opposite of the previous trend—fewer graphics, brief text, fewer links. Here are three basic points for making your emails mobile friendly:
- People don’t have time to read long pitches in one go. Shorten the email length to fewer than 300 words.
- Put no more than two links in any email. Give them more than two choices and they’ll click nothing.
- Use less HTML, opting instead for plain backgrounds and larger fonts. Mobile-friendly design isn’t about showing off design work.
More than anything, having a phone-first mindset means keeping one question top of mind: What will make it easier for my distributors and their customers to learn more about our company and buy our products more often? Because, in the end, that’s the ultimate deal. The toys aren’t that interesting unless they serve you.
Chris Brogan runs Human Business Works, a publishing and media company building courses to help you do the work you want to do, only better. Learn more at http://humanbusinessworks.com.