Archive for the ‘mobile’ Category

The Business Case for Mobile First

For consumers, a mobile device is increasingly the “first screen.” It’s the the first media powered-up in the morning and the last shut down before bed. And for 91% of smartphone owners, their device is within a 3-foot reach 24 hours a day.

2013 signals a sea change in digital: more people will access the internet through a mobile device this year than through a PC. For more background, read Forrester’s 2013 Mobile Trends for Marketers.

What’s Your Brand’s Mobile Competency?

Mobile enables consumer connections at home, in the store, and on the go. Plus, it offers opportunities for deeper engagement by harnessing location, social media and the personal creativity of your consumer.

There is no perfect formula for selecting mobile channels. But you can chart your course by answering these questions, which will help you frame an approach to mobile that maps to business objectives and consumer behaviors.


Ready to get started? Answer these 10 critical questions after the jump.


The ability to deliver savings in the store via mobile is a game changer. It collapses the purchase funnel for new users. It combats showrooming. And it can drive retailer loyalty.

But despite the fact that forty million Americans will use mobile coupons in 2013 (eMarketer), redemption still remains an issue at the store level. Those clunky red line scanners at most cash registers today just aren’t equipped (yet) to accept mobile saving. If airlines can figure it out, why can’t fast moving consumer goods retailers? Cmon! mobile_coupon

In January, the Mobile Marketing Association unveiled its “Current State & Promise of Mobile Couponing” which reviews the advantages and challenges of savings by smartphone. You can download their POV here to find some helpful case studies, but you’ll also be disappointed to learn that even the MMA hasn’t landed on a perfect solution for CPG brands. Print FSIs are still king, accounting for 88% of the distribution universe and leads all coupon channel redemption at 43%.

Coupon giants like Coupons.com require people to download their Grocery IQ app. A nice attempt, but penetration is low (surprising since so many have downloaded their desktop print driver for digital coupons).

In short, we’re not there yet.

In our view, CPG brands should work at the retailer level to promote and distribute mobile coupons. Restaurant and retail brands have a little more control and can promote through branded apps, show-and-save, or through email.

There will come a day when we don’t think of mobile first or mobile strategy. I equate it to the place where “digital strategy” and just “strategy” are headed today. Mobile will become part of the overall fabric with which you think and act every day as a marketer. We (the collective we) might not be there yet, but are we getting there fast enough and with a plan? Better stated, it’s coming, so what is your short and longer term plans?

Currently, mobile strategy is very much a separate silo, an add-on to overarching digital plans. Part of that is based on brand marketers’ comfort and familiarity with what “mobile” means or should mean to their brand. If you are not, or have not, begun to embrace what mobile means to your marketing, you will miss the learning and experience of it and in time you will be even further behind. You should be building on your experiences of today so that as the technology and use changes you are able to react accordingly based on YOUR experience. My colleague Rick Gardinier spoke to this in a post four years ago. So what have you done in the past four years to ready yourself and your brand for the next four? (more…)

When it comes to mobile, most of the leading mobile strategists and designers that I know put an emphasis on utility.  This sentiment, in large part, is probably driven by the plethora of completely useless “throw away” apps that were prevalent shortly after the iPhone’s launch (did the world need another “beer pouring” app?).  During that exuberant period, creative directors everywhere were proposing the next “gimmicky” app that would make a brand famous. Only to find out that without a significant promotional budget, most apps never got downloaded.  And if by chance they did find their way into a user’s hands, they got used once — maybe.

So, most smart digital and mobile marketers ensured that the emphasis was placed on providing “useful” app experiences (anyone else having flashbacks to 1999?).  UX began touting navigation best practices and iOS design guidelines.  Brands started to create platforms that connected their consumers in deeper ways than ever before…Nike+ being one great example.

The trouble is, much of the new design work being done in the app space today looks the same as everything else that’s been done.  For some elements like global navigation that makes perfectly good sense.  I liken it to the evolution of e-commerce shopping carts.  Once someone landed on a model that consumers liked, then why not replicate instead of reinventing the wheel and spending tens of thousands on usability testing.

Lately, while reviewing design concepts for a project we were working on, it struck me that once the various art directors applied brand standards, that many of the designs started to look the same.  It prompted me to ask the question — Is there room for creativity in mobile?



Retailers have always observed people in their stores to gain insight into how to create a better shopping experience. Where does the customer go upon entry? Can she find the right aisle?  Does she read product information or does she grab-and-go? These insights were critical to “winning the customer at shelf” – for both retailers and brands alike.

But while these insights are still relevant today, they don’t provide nearly enough value - or context - to truly bond with today’s socially-connected, location-aware shopper.

Whether it’s for electronics or egg whites, power has completely shifted to the consumer.

Industry wonks have playfully labeled this trend MoSoLoCo. That is, the effects of mobile devices, social media, and location-awareness on all forms ofcommerce. It’s driven by three things:

  • Smarter, faster technology (mobile devices)
  • Access to information and trustworthy opinions about anything (social media)
  • More relevant contexts (location-aware)

Commerce is mobile (mCommerce)

The ability to initiate or complete transactions via mobile is still in its infancy, but usage is already widespread. Oracle reports that 48 percent of consumers research and browse products and services from their handheld. And comScore says 38 percent have used their smartphone to make a purchase at least once.

When consumers are able to learn about, find, compare, buy, and review products and services without breaking a sweat-and when they’re able to perform these actions from any location, at any time, that creates challenges for brands and retailers.

For example, The New York Times recently characterized Best Buy as a “showroom” for Amazon.  And Target, incensed by mobile-social research in their stores, sent a stern message to suppliers:

“What we aren’t willing to do is let online-only retailers use our brick-and-mortar stores as a showroom for their products and undercut our prices without making investments, as we do, to proudly display your brands.”

Adding fuel to the fire is eBay, who created TV ads that embrace showrooming as a way to drive their own business:


Imagine having Bob Dylan as your brand’s spokesman.  For cents on the dollar.

Display advertising on the mobile web–or in-app mobile advertising–provides some of the richest opportunities for marketers to connect with consumers.

Here’s a mobile ad that converted me recently. And here’s why it worked:

photo1. Personalized to me based on a recent mobile search

2. Location-aware with a map to help me connect when I’m on-the-go

3. Strong call to action with the option to call (without expanding the ad)

4. Creative content connection thru Pandora internet radio (to which I’m addicted)

5. User review star rating authenticates quality via UGC/third party

This ad caught my attention initially because I was intrigued by a Dylan song I hadn’t heard before, on a station that was curated by a friend (bonus social connection~!).

This plumbing supply store gets two thumbs up for smarter, faster mobile advertising.

download2Each weekend in August, I cross the Chesapeake from Washington, D.C. to Delaware’s beaches.  And on the Sunday return, usually hit up a farm stand to gather produce for Sunday dinner.

It’s rural. Really rural.  No phone service. Just cornfields and cicadas.

This past Sunday, I stopped at Mason Farms to collect loot for this delightful  salsa verde  recipe.

Boy did they have their act together. Upon checkout, the farmer whipped out an iPad2  and ran my card to complete the sale. I used my finger to authorize the transaction with a signature.

Seamless. It felt like an Apple store. Only the product was tomatoes and snap peas instead of tablets and smartphones.

The lesson here? Even if  you’re selling to (or from) C&D counties–there’s still an opportunity to surprise and delight your consumer through technology.

Is your retail business keeping up with rural Delaware?

A few years ago, psychologist Aric Sigman went out on a limb when he stated that the use of Facebook could lead to increased health problems. His theory was that the increased isolationism created by digital media could affect the immune system, possibly leading to heart disease, stroke and even cancer. What he didn’t take into account was the fact that many people are using Facebook as a cathartic outlet to help alleviate their own stress as sufferers or friends and family of sufferers.



This is the first in a two-part series rethinking what it takes to make a best-in-class website.

We get a lot of RFPs for website redesigns. All of them are well-intentioned. Some are granular in detail. Others are more “big picture.”  Some have a clear sense of what they want to achieve. Others haven’t a clue. Some are so procurement-driven they feel like a tax audit.  But they all say “website redesign.” And whenever I see or hear this phrase—website redesign—it conjures up the same image:

Five years ago, I got a note from a former client who had just moved into a new job. I printed it out and put it up on the wall, because it challenged the conventional wisdom of what it takes to truly be best-in-class.


A website overhaul is expensive, time consuming, and requires an enormous commitment from a client and the partner they choose to help them lead it. So with all that’s at stake, why redesign when you can realign? It may sound academic, but there are several critical distinctions.

A redesigned site:

is driven by a creative brief

understands the target

aesthetics first, then content

focuses on form

starts with design mock-ups

pleases mgmt in the short term

A realigned site:

is driven by business objectives

unlocks the key consumer insight

content strategy before aesthetics

focuses on form and function

starts with an idea

accomplishes business and user objectives

More after the jump.


A friend tweeted today that he was going to start using Quora more…. if he could make the time.

Quora is the social Q&A engine where people write their own answers to questions and post questions of their own.  It’s like Wikipedia–in that it’s continually improving (in theory).

In our business, it’s important to make time to explore emerging things. I try and devote ~10% of my social media usage to trying something new.

But integrating something new into your regular work stream creates a problem. There simply isn’t time.

So here’s a simple solution: apply the law of conservation of social media.

The law of conservation of mass: a fundamental principle of classical physics that matter cannot be created or destroyed in an isolated system.

The law of conservation of social media: a fundamental principle of time management that social media usage (for heavy users) cannot be increased without going insane or living in complete technological isolation.

More simply, if you’re adding something new–do something else a little less.

Then get out for a walk and leave your phone behind for once.