3 marketing challenges in an increasingly mobile world

People are fickle, even more so since we’ve become an increasingly “now” society. That attitude, of course, is reinforced by mobile apps like Uber, Instacart and TaskRabbit, all of which provide on-demand services for the “now” consumer.

By 2018, the number of smartphone users in the U.S. is estimated to rise to 220 million, up from 164 million in 2014. For marketers, this provides both opportunities and challenges.

Mobile users are happiest when they get what they want at the exact time they want it. Apps offer serendipity when they anticipate needs and consistently deliver value to users. Brands, on the other hand, have struggled to find their place in an increasingly mobile world.

That said, the convenience of the World Wide Web at consumers’ fingertips creates endless possibilities for businesses to engage highly valued audiences. The question is: How?

Innovation and slow adoption

Innovation regularly outpaces current needs. Advertising and marketing technology is no exception.

“Mobile technologies are advancing extremely fast and in many cases they are evolving faster than clients are prepared to understand, much less adopt advancements,” says James Briggs, CEO of Briabe Mobile.

Mike Melton, CEO of web design firm Waxwing Interactive, agrees. “The technology isn’t the problem when it comes to mobile marketing; the problem is that too many businesses aren’t using the existing technology for their web presence,” he says. “In certain industries, there are many businesses who’ve had a website for 6+ years and they’ve never updated it.” In internet years, that’s practically a lifetime.

Melton adds, “When a potential customer goes to that business’ site using a phone or tablet, they have a poor experience because the site is using old technology and the page doesn’t display properly on that device. When a customer sees a site that doesn’t work correctly, they’re going to leave that site and find a competitor. In short, you have millions of businesses out there who think they have a website, but that site is actually hurting their business.”

Responsive design is now an industry standard. Don’t know what responsive design is or why it is important? These 9 GIFs can help you make sense of it all.

Abandonment and latency issues

Rather than walk through racks of clothes at the mall, millennials window shop online. When shoppers do actually commit to buying something, they rarely use their phones to complete a purchase. Instead, they default to their PCs.

Knowing this, Tedd Rodman of cloud services firm Yottaa asserts, “One of the biggest challenges [marketers] face is how to turn mobile customer interactions into actual transactions.” Integration of mobile payment platforms such as LevelUp and @Pay can quickly solve shopping cart abandonment issues especially when the process of entering personal credit card information becomes too cumbersome for users on a handheld device.

But another problem businesses face is speed. Though the newest smartphones are absurdly fast, most websites are not. Consumers have zero tolerance for downtime and latency.

Rodman shares, “Mobile websites tend to load much slower than desktop sites and the longer it takes for a mobile page to load, the more likely a potential customer will leave the site and move on to a competitive site. Amazon, for example, has shown that every 100 milliseconds of website latency costs them 1% in mobile sales.”

Your customers can’t afford to wait for slow sites to load. Can you?

Dark traffic

Upwards to 40% of all traffic to sites across the web is “dark“. Unattributable sources of visits bless and haunt digital marketers. Assumptions can be made about where the traffic comes from (and why), with varying degrees of certainty. Word-of-mouth? Social media? Email? Marketers often have no clue. Furthermore, dark traffic tends to come from mobile and messaging apps.

It is a problem which may persist despite our best efforts.

“I don’t know if you ever fully ‘solve’ dark traffic unless you managed direct relationships with all of your traffic sources at the point of consumer interaction,” says Briggs of Briabe Mobile. “I think the best that you can do is come up with a ‘waste management strategy’ that allows you to progressively minimize the waste with advancements in [tech] solutions that offer more transparency.”

Since dark traffic is hard to optimize and replicate, marketers have their work cut out for them. In this case, the best advice is to invest more in what you know works and what you can repeat and scale. For murkier things such as dark traffic, allocate spare resources but don’t obsess over it when doing so is a loser’s game.

To succeed in an increasingly mobile world, you need to actively leverage new platforms and technologies, boost site performance and page load, and meticulously track marketing performance to ensure you consistently deliver happiness to customers and users across all devices.

According to Briggs, “Mobile advertising [and marketing] is built on a desktop model that doesn’t perform well in the real mobile-social world of today.” Once you adopt a current and fresh approach to mobile marketing, you won’t ask, “How?” Instead, you’ll ask, “What can we do better?”

Post by Danny Wong

Danny Wong is an entrepreneur, marketer, and writer. He is the co-founder of Blank Label (an award winning menswear company focusing on luxury made-to-measure garments) and does marketing at Grapevine (a platform that drives eCommerce, helping retailers partner with YouTube celebrities). Tweet him @dannywong1190