What is a mobile-first approach to marketing?

Mobile-first, or mobile-centric, marketing is about making your brand’s mobile touchpoints the focus of your efforts, curating personalised, real-time and contextually-relevant customer experiences across your mobile channels.

This involves leveraging location-based, event-triggered messaging and behavioural analytics (browsing patterns, optimal send times etc) as well as the ongoing management of user permissions and opt-ins.

What do we know about it?

We’ve been at the forefront of mobile marketing technology since 2014, helping to shape campaign strategies for 100s of industry-leading brands. Earlier this year we featured in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for Mobile Marketing Platforms (read more about that here).

The advice in this article is all based on our practical experience in mobile engagement.

What being mobile-first is not!

All about your mobile app.

Ok, it might be if that’s the only channel your brand uses… but what I’m saying is it doesn’t need to be! 

A mobile-centric marketing approach requires agility, connectivity and analytical insight across all of your mobile channels. 

That’s email, website, SMS, social media and yes, your app!

Mobile-centricity certainly doesn’t mean forgetting about your desktop users or suspending offline marketing efforts. They absolutely have roles to play in a complete strategy, but their importance is lessening over time. 

Gartner's view on the importance of mobile-first marketing strategies

Why is a mobile-first approach so important?

Because conversion-paths are increasingly happening, or at least starting, on mobile devices.

The average consumer spends three hours a day using a smartphone or tablet. We’re making fewer purchases on desktop than we were even 5 years ago, opting instead for the streamlined shopping experience within our favourite brands’ mobile apps or the availability of the mobile web browser when out-of-home.

In fact, to put a figure on it… 65% of traffic all to eCommerce sites, for example, in 2019 was via smartphones. And that number is only going one direction.

Interestingly though, the projections suggest only 54% of actual revenue for those same sites will come from mobile commerce by 2021. That’s still significant, of course, but it does highlight the fact that desktop users cannot be ignored entirely. 

For now at least.

Whatever your business goals are, whether you’re hoping to onboard new customers, engage with prospects, recover abandoned carts or garner post-sale feedback, your mobile channels should play a vital role in every campaign.

Stats which show the value of a mobile-first approach(Source “Use Mobile to Connect Your Customer Experience Across Channels” Gartner, Published 22 August 2018)

Tips for creating a mobile-centric marketing strategy

Aim for “continuous connection” 

The immediacy of mobile communications and the knock-on ability to satisfy the needs of customers as they arise underpins the philosophy of continuous connection.

We live in a post-sales world now; we no longer want to be told what to buy. We want to discover it for ourselves.

One of my favourite movies is the Hal Ashby classic, Being There. If you’re unfamiliar with the story of Chance the Gardener then I highly recommend it. Amongst the film’s many themes, there’s this charming little maxim; sometimes good things happen just by being in the right place. 

In business, I think it holds true too but that doesn’t mean being passive in our sales approach. It means we need to anticipate buyer readiness, through lifecycle analytics and other data-driven insights, and engage with customers on their preferred channels.

The more channels you have at your disposal the easier this becomes.

Think multichannel, act cross-channel

This is more than just a catchy slogan (which I’ve just invented). When you think about your sales and marketing strategies, you want to consider all of the possible touchpoints they can potentially have with your brand, making sure you have a consistent presence across each of them. 

That’s the essence of mobile-first multichannel engagement.

When it comes to orchestrating campaigns, however, it’s important not to see the different channels in isolation. Let’s say you’re sending a personalised web push (via a mobile browser) driving traffic to a specific page on your website. Intrigued by the relevant offer, someone clicks on it. How does the on-site message they see when they get there fit into the narrative? 

Does it support the web push or does it obscure its message i.e. by asking for an email address or promoting a different offer?

Ideally, you want all of your channels working in harmony powered by an understanding of each customer’s journey. Automated workflows allow you to map out nuanced customer journeys across multiple touchpoints.

This is the type of cross-channel campaigning that drives consistent results.

I realise that it can seem daunting to go from one or two channels (let’s say email and SMS) to suddenly running campaigns across five or six. We would never recommend that brands take on a project like that all at once. 

It’s far more practical to build up your arsenal gradually, adding one channel into the mix at a time. This makes it more manageable and means you’ll start seeing ROI sooner too.

Progressive Web Apps: They may be the future of mobile-first marketing experiences

If you’re unsure about what exactly Progressive Web Apps are, then think of them like this; websites that look and behave like a mobile app. 

Here’s a nice article on how some of the biggest brands in the world are using PWAs to enhance their online presence. It remains to be seen whether or not PWAs will replace mobile apps entirely, but there are a few digital marketing trend-watchers who think it’s a distinct possibility in the near future.

PWAs adapts to the device in use (whether mobile or desktop), don’t require the user to download or regularly update them, and are SEO-friendly. 

They’ve been around for a while now, but it’s only in the last year or so that advancements in the capabilities of the major browsers have seen PWAs flourish.

They’re transforming the traditional website experience into something resembling a native mobile app.

This means faster load times, fewer “Downasaurs”, less storage space taken up on their device, and seamless navigation, even with a limited internet connection (or none at all). 

Mobile-first PWAs mean fewer Downasaurs!

The upshot of these improvements for brands is more visits, longer sessions and higher conversion rates.

As PWAs gain in popularity, we reckon that web push notifications are likely to play an even bigger role than they do already.

After all, efforts to improve the UX of your websites will count for little if you aren’t driving traffic to them in the first place!

Mobile-first means moving away from point solutions!

If your brand currently has a multitude of single-channel point solutions then you aren’t alone. Until recently there really wasn’t much of an alternative and companies simply took on a new channel supplier in line with each new advance in customer engagement technology.

Unfortunately, this has lead to restrictive data silos which limit a brand’s ability to get a Single Customer View across all of its channels. 

And without that granular customer information, it’s impossible to personalise your communications.

A robust mobile-marketing platform will allow you to consolidate all of your channels in one place.

The next step

If you’re looking to enhance your mobile engagement strategy then talk to us! We are industry-leaders in this field, working with household names in every vertical.

About Xtremepush

Xtremepush is the complete digital engagement platform, purpose-built for multichannel marketing. It empowers brands to deliver personalised, relevant and real-time messages across email, web browser, mobile app, sms and social messengers.

The platform is completely modular and combines enterprise-grade analytics with a full suite of campaign and automation tools. This provides brands with accessible and actionable data, enabling them to unify the silos, create dynamic customer experiences and execute core business goals at speed and scale.

Xtrempush was named in the 2019 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Mobile Marketing Platforms. Read that report here.

Writing an RFP for a Mobile Marketing Platform?

Download our free guide to learn the key questions you need to ask.