What does a mobile-first strategy entail in your overall marketing plan?

28th April 2022

SMEs need to be where their customers are – Mobile!

Whether you’re a B2B or B2C, your company needs to reimagine the customer’s journey on mobile-first, before considering desktop interactions. Why should you care?

In 2021, there were 7.1 billion mobile users. This number is expected to reach 7.26 billion in 2022. 67% of wealthy smartphone users shop on their devices and 63% regularly buy goods or services.

We have come to rely on our smartphones for our purchases, building relationships, managing our finances, and optimizing our wellbeing.

In a world where the emphasis is placed on mobile users first, companies worldwide are taking steps to accommodate users’ needs and meet their expectations.

That’s exactly what a mobile-first strategy entails. 

We’ll dive into the benefits, use cases, how to develop a winning mobile-first strategy, and companies that are embracing it.

If you’re launching a new product, website, app, or creating content, even adding a new sign-up form to your website, you must consider how it’d be useful for the mobile users “First” before the desktop “users.”

Mobile, first. Desktop, second. Got it!

What is a mobile-first strategy?

A mobile-first strategy is an approach to design and marketing that prioritizes the user’s mobile experience at its core. 

You don’t want to build a full-fledged product to discover that some of its capabilities cannot be implemented on mobile devices. You prioritize mobile-first, then walk your way up to larger screens and experiences.

Although your target audience may not necessarily consume all your content on mobile, the goal of a mobile-first approach is to create an experience with mobile as its starting point. 

The term “mobile-first” was first introduced in 2009 by Luke Wroblewski in his book.

The author argued that transitioning from desktop to mobile web design can be a hassle, and offers some tips on how teams and organizations can take a unique approach to the mobile web.

Why should mobile come first?

Your target audience and customers are mobile, so you have to be there as well. Mobile has become a new normal. 

Studies show that almost 7 billion mobile users globally use their phones regularly in 2020. 71% of these users are checking their phones right after waking up.

Adopting a mobile-first marketing strategy is crucial because your prospects, customers, and website visitors are viewing your products/content with their smartphones.

Instant messaging is now accessible at our fingertips, from anywhere we are, at any given time, thanks to our phones.

“It has revolutionized how we communicate, and today over 2.5 billion people are signed up for at least one messaging app,” says Jeff Desjardins

But these are not mere insights, putting the focus on mobile users first can impact how SMEs conduct business. 

For example, the on-demand “swipe right” culture is an indication that customers can quickly make decisions. According to this data, 70% of mobile searches lead to action on a visited website within 1 hour. 

Sadly, about 48% of users will switch to a competitor’s website if they feel their user experience on a website isn’t optimized for mobile use.

Mobile-first strategy, your web design can deliver a rich mobile user experience through:

  • Faster loading pages
  • Less copy
  • App-like user interface
  • Visible CTAs
  • Large fonts
  • Optimized image and video elements

Benefits of mobile-first marketing strategy

What do companies stand to gain by adopting a mobile-first strategy? Here are the six benefits:

1. It’s all about helping people

Nothing beats a customer-focused mobile approach. 

As you focus on the tech, keep in mind that you’re doing it for people (customers). You’re not simply optimizing your business for mobile; you optimize it for people.

At the end of the day, it’s all about creating an engaging experience that offers customers a tailored user experience while on the go.

When you help people, your business is guaranteed to succeed. It’s that simple!

2. Reach more customers

Google’s Mobile-First Indexing is the key factor in this mobile-first strategy. 

Since 2019, Google’s search algorithm rewards websites that are primarily optimized for mobile users. 

A mobile-first strategy provides an unrivaled user experience, and it improves retention and engagement. 

When Offspring, an eCommerce retailer focused on creating the best browsing experience for tablet users, the company saw a 20.35% increase in conversion rate (from tablet users alone).

Aside from growing sales, mobile is a tremendous source of critical data, so your business needs to optimize the experience for the mobile user first to benefit from this rich data deposit. 

To achieve this, focus on what your customers want from your app, and continuously monitor its performance. 

Taking a mobile-first approach will create a seamless mobile experience for your customers.

3. Additional competitive edge

Having a mobile-first strategy gives you a competitive advantage by giving your customers the best possible experience on their mobile devices. 

Whether they are on their phones, tablets, or desktops, customers are using them for everything from social media to shopping. 

This allows you to personalize their experience and maximize turnover. If you haven’t implemented a mobile-first strategy, now is the time to start.

Here’s the equation once again:

Mobile, first. Desktop, second.

If you want to get your customers to purchase from your mobile-friendly website or app, you must make it as fast and convenient as possible. 

A mobile-first strategy focuses on the preferences of your target audience. It improves UX, increases website performance, and builds customer loyalty. 

In addition to these benefits, this strategy allows you to focus on tactics, instead of the devices themselves. 

Developing your product and website for mobile users requires a unique perspective. Focusing on user experience (UX) means removing unnecessary elements. 

This allows you to concentrate on the core user experience, and progress the design for larger screens. 

Since mobile devices drive 77% of traffic compared to 23% from desktops, according to the Fintech User Behavior Trends for U.K Websites.

The majority of industry leaders use a mobile-first strategy for their websites. If you follow their lead, you will compete successfully with the competition and thrive.

Prioritizing mobile users is an important step in making your product more effective and appealing to consumers.

4. Better customer engagement and retention

The first step in implementing a mobile-first strategy is to understand what it means for the customer and your business. 

It’s all about putting mobile technology at the forefront of the entire customer journey. 

Mobile-first strategies take advantage of key mobile technology and features such as location data, screen size, camera functionality, and data collection — to deliver customized services to mobile users.

This personalization will increase customer engagement and loyalty, as it allows brands to customize the experience for individual consumers. 

Essentially, it’s important to make your brand content easier to read, due to the smaller screen size and shorter attention span of the typical consumer.

A mobile-first strategy is a must-have in today’s market. Businesses should put the customer at the center of everything they do, from the product to the communication channels. 

A great mobile experience will make the customer experience better, which will increase the bottom line. Customers are always on the go, so you need to keep up with them.  

5. Unlock new revenue channels

The success of a mobile-first strategy can increase customer satisfaction and boost economic gains. 

Customers who browse on their mobile devices are goal-oriented, and they want their purchases to be as simple and hassle-free as possible. 

According to CXL, 79% of smartphone consumers use their phones to facilitate shopping, from comparing prices to finding more product info.

With a mobile-first strategy, companies can customize the customer experience and maximize business turnover.  

This strategy changes everything from the design of products and services to the way marketers spend their money.

From advertising to product development, mobile-centricity is the key to driving engagement and improving digital advertising campaigns. 

This shift in focus has transformed companies in all industries from traditional brick-and-mortar operations to mobile-first enterprises. 

This has helped companies of all sizes succeed in attracting consumers and increasing revenue.  

Consumer-centric businesses tend to perform better in the market and gain more revenue. 

A strategy that prioritizes mobile users above desktop users is an efficient solution for companies looking to expand their client base and satisfy customer expectations. 

6. Improved customer experience

Investing in a mobile-first strategy can increase a customer’s satisfaction by 20 – 50%. 

In addition to delivering a better customer experience, it also allows you to personalize the shopping experience and maximize your business turnover. 

Ultimately, this will boost your bottom line.

The emphasis on mobile will increase your website’s performance and boost customer loyalty. 

A mobile-first strategy can be highly cost-effective for a business and focuses on the preferences of its target audience. As an example, YouTube introduced Material Design in 2017

Its new style prioritizes the mobile experience over the desktop version, adjusting button and text displays to the device’s capabilities. 

The video service even introduced a night mode (i.e., a dark mode theme) to improve the UX.

Similarly, mobile users prefer an easy-to-use product experience. 

Their busy lifestyles and varying network connections make it difficult to navigate a desktop website. 

Mobile users expect an effortless experience, and a mobile app or mobile-friendly website that is a pleasure to use builds loyalty and establishes the ultimate customer experience advantage.  

What does a mobile-first strategy entail in your overall marketing plan?

A mobile-first strategy is critical to your marketing plan. The ultimate goal is to satisfy user expectations.

As a result, don’t just focus on the look and feel of your website, app, or platform, you have to ‘first’ understand why mobile users decided to use your app or website.

The best UI and UX practices won’t deliver results if you don’t know your target audience well enough to understand their pain points.

In reality, some companies have failed to meet users’ expectations — even though they took the mobile-first approach. 

Before you create content, do the preliminary research, identify the top keywords that your target audience is searching for, then create content and products that will solve their problems. 

Next, this content or product should live on a mobile-friendly website or app. That’s how to win in a mobile-first world.

Designing a mobile-first website that affects the customer journey

Let’s briefly discuss the vitals of a mobile-first website, what elements need to be included, and more.

1. Mobile-first is content first

Smartphones have become the necessary tool for accessing information – from news to watching videos to video calls, social media banking, you name it. 

Funny enough, 17% of Americans already control their TVs using a smartphone.

With the focus on users, every mobile-first company needs to put content first. Using a content-first approach is critical. 

Users should get be able to access and consume the content they absolutely need with nothing extra.

Avoid whistles and bells that might clutter and distract away from the mobile experience.

2. Design with users in mind

The goal of your website design and marketing plan is to solve a problem or help the user complete a task quickly and effectively. 

It’s important to create convenient solutions for the user. In line with having users in mind is giving them exactly what they want. 

For example, designing a mobile app or mobile version of your website could drive more sales (if a larger percentage of your customers complete their orders via mobile). This is especially true for eCommerce brands.

Understand the interactions between your audience and your mobile-friendly website as you identify their pain points.

Your website designers might want to spy on the competition to see what tactics they’re using to keep users engaged, what mobile options are prevalent, and how you can use those in your design.

3. Visual hierarchy of content

When it comes to content, the placements, and formatting matter. It’s easy to capture a user’s attention with visual hierarchy, for example:

A mobile-first website design delivers only what the user is looking for while cutting out the fluff that may take their attention away from the call to action (CTA).

Start with the titles of your content. Position them at the top with a content preview above the fold. You want the users to quickly see the content — which should be the ultimate answer to their question.

To create the best mobile experience, you should divide long copy into numerous, one-sentence paragraphs. This will enhance the scannability of your mobile content page.

4. Keep it silly simple (KISS)

A simple mobile design guarantees the best experience for the user. 

Therefore, only include elements that you need on your mobile website — and do all you can to keep the user engaged.

Here are some practical ways to keep mobile-first website simple:

  • Use as few pages as possible
  • Simplify the buying process (make it super easy). Mobile users are ardent shoppers. According to statistics, 79% of smartphone users have made a purchase online using their mobile or tablet device in the last 6 months.
  • Use two columns of content at most
  • Keep your lines clean and borders wide
  • Use plenty of whitespaces to make the content more readable and less cluttered
  • Use a maximum of 3 links in the navigation menu
  • Add 1 – 2 social share buttons on your site. You’ll encourage users to share your content, products, and events with their followers on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, etc.

How to design a successful mobile-first strategy

1. Align your internal business process

The first step in designing a successful mobile-first strategy is to align your internal business processes with your strategy. 

No matter how innovative and sophisticated your mobile initiatives are, it’s about alignment with your core goals and culture.

So what does this even mean? 

It means you should assess your mobile maturity level, and how much impact you’re making via mobile currently. Ask yourself this question, “what will it take to go from identifying customer needs to satisfying them?”

If your company has some momentum already, you have a solid foundation already and the likelihood to win with a mobile-first approach. 

Essentially, this step is crucial as it guides your decision-making processes. You’ll be able to discern whether or not there will be integration issues when you launch your mobile product.

Make sure your business processes and culture are not stuck in the 1990s, otherwise, it’d be difficult to integrate and efficiently interact with your new mobile products. 

2. Optimize existing products for mobile users

You can optimize your existing products for mobile users by following the principles of the mobile-first approach. 

This approach blends user goals and client acquisition to create a more comprehensive experience for users. 

Google is a major source of lead and customer acquisition, and it favors mobile-optimized websites. 66% of people will find a mobile-friendly website through a Google search.

The psychological benefits of seeing offers on a mobile device aren’t lost, but they have changed.  

First, make your website responsive. Mobile-first design prioritizes mobile devices then large screens. While it was once considered irrational to optimize websites for phones, mobile devices have outstripped PCs in terms of characteristics.

As a result, you must adjust your website to cater to users’ preferences. For example, a responsive design should allow users to browse the content by size and orientation.

Second, a mobile-first approach allows you to identify new revenue channels and increase ROI in existing ones. 

Different app verticals provide different revenue options. 

For example, a health-focused app can offer personalized workout plans, access to personal trainers, and performance analytics. 

A 7 Minute Workout App, co-founded by Stwart Hall, got 2.3 million app downloads without advertising and dramatically grew its revenue.

Gamification can help increase engagement and revenue. And if your app is well-designed and engaging, it can generate additional revenue.

3. Invest in new mobile products

By adopting a mobile-first strategy, you can invest in new mobile products that will increase your engagement and sales. This streamlined process benefits companies and consumers alike.  

Here’s why you should consider investing in a new mobile product, such as an app:

Mobile products (especially apps) revenue have grown by more than 15% each year. In 2021, the total revenue from mobile apps reached $133 billion.

Annual App Revenues

YearApp revenue
2018$71.3 billion
2019$89 billion
2020$111 billion
2021$133 billion

If you have a mobile-first strategy, you’ll have more flexibility when it comes to design. 

A well-functioning mobile product prioritizes capabilities and features over its size. It identifies the most essential elements of a platform and then scales up to accommodate these features. 

If your mobile product isn’t suited for smartphones, it’ll not translate well to the desktop. 

A sub-par mobile experience will ultimately result in a sub-par desktop experience and ultimately, a poor consumer experience.

4. Leverage customer data

Mobile usage is the new normal. Americans look at their phones 50 times per day, on average, according to Deloitte Global Mobile Consumer Survey, US Edition

With so many people using mobile devices, it makes sense to leverage this data to improve your overall business strategy. 

You can maximize the data you collect about customers. Ultimately, this will lead to increased revenue and greater profits. 

By ensuring that your website is mobile-friendly, it becomes a lot easier to boost your sales and boost customer retention. 

As you incorporate data-driven solutions, you can promote the personalization of mobile designs and increase revenue. 

If your website does not support mobile-first design, you will be left behind and lose new leads and revenue. 

While the mobile-first strategy can have huge benefits for businesses, it’s important to remember that you can only use it if you understand how customers use their devices.  

Mobile-first strategy: In summary 

For many SMEs, the unmatched user experience is a driving force towards embracing a mobile-first strategy. 

It’s what customers yearn for, it drives engagement and retention, it drives a powerful revenue stream, and provides insightful data for marketing business decisions.

As you focus on your customers’ needs, it’s crucial to optimize your website and app for the user, and continuously monitor your mobile performance.

This is the quickest and most effective way to create a seamless and memorable mobile experience for your customers, which is guaranteed to take your business to greater heights. 

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