The growth in mobile marketing (more often than not referring to phones rather than tablets) has grown spectacularly over the past few years. And why on earth not? It’s clearly where all the action seems to be.
We’re increasingly using phones and tablets in preference to desktop computers – and even laptops – to read our mail and access the internet. And that’s before we even look at mobile-specific vehicles such as apps, social channels like Instagram or SnapChat, or the current darling of the mobile marketing world: text messaging, either via SMS or using something like WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger.
Mary Meeker, the analyst at Kleiner Perkins Caufield Byers whose annual “State Of The Union” technology trends report gets marketers breathing into paper bags faster than a prepubescent girl at a Taylor Swift concert, has been forecasting mobile overtaking everything else for years. Even Google has stated that searches on mobile devices have overtaken searches on desktop machines.
The 2016 Super Bowl saw 82% of searches for things in ads were done on mobile (up from 70% for the 2015 Super Bowl). It seems clear that people use ‘mobile’ when they’re at home, more than anywhere else – not just when they’re actually ‘mobile’.
Mobile is more personal than desktop. We customize our apps, background wallpapers, and ringtones. We can be connected 24/7 without having to login to the internet or search for Wi-Fi. We carry chargers, or wrap our phones in pig-ugly battery cases wherever we go, to ensure that we’re forever connected. You can’t be the last of your friends to “like” that funny cat video, right?
A Marketing Dream Come True
It’s no wonder that cracking the mobile space is the average marketer’s dream come true: It’s an opportunity to create meaningful, bi-directional conversations with people who are interested in their brand.
We take a mobile-first approach to design, and build our websites to be ‘mobile-friendly’. User Experience and User Interface design, practices that have been around for at least 20 years, suddenly gain headline status. Marketers continually try to find the right stick – or carrot – to compel audiences to scan QR codes, agree to get zapped as they pass a beacon, or immerse themselves in augmented (and soon) virtual reality.
So why are marketers ignoring the elephant in the room? Why are marketers ignoring the fact that, when we even things out, most people with a mobile device don’t own one made by Apple?
Do As I Say, Not As I Do
I conducted an extremely non-scientific piece of research recently. My data was extracted from a combination of various people I know who work in marketing, and articles such as LifeHacker’s “How I Work” series. Result: The overwhelming majority of people involved in marketing use Apple mobile devices.
Ordinarily I couldn’t give a stuff about such things. But what I think is more concerning is not only the fact that most only use Apple phones and/or tablets. It’s that many people calling themselves marketers have never used a mobile device that wasn’t made by Apple.
As far as I’m concerned, that means these marketers aren’t doing their job right.
Today, 96.8% of new smartphones sold are either iPhones or Android devices. Yes, Apple makes far more money off each iPhone sale. But, depending on region, Android devices outsell iOS devices by as much as 4 to 1. Taken as a group there are a lot more Android phones being sold per quarter than there are iPhones.
By the law of averages, some of those Android devices are being used by your prospects.
Based upon how increasingly crucial it is to get the customer experience right – and right first time – how come these marketing ‘experts’ who are normally glued to their iPhones are never seen touting a Samsung, Huawei, or Xaomi, to help them better understand the Android mobile experience and see what their customers see?
Eating Your Own Dog Food
Did you know that you can’t switch on the rear window demister on a Tesla Model S remotely from your key fob, nor from your phone? Of course you didn’t – you’d never know unless you’d spent some time with one. On iOS, every link in an app or email opens in Safari – and you have no way to change that behavior. On Android, however, you set the device to open links in any browser you like. If you’re an iOS-only user, you may not know that.
If even a small part of your business is involved in presenting an optimized marketing experience on a range of devices, why on earth aren’t you testing out that experience on devices that your audience is likely to use?
Why aren’t you taking the time to walk in their shoes, and immerse yourself in their version of mobile? Ten will get you five that’s it’s a very different world to yours.
You owe it to your audience to present as seamless and as optimized an experience as you can. That doesn’t just mean for whatever device you personally happen to use.
Web application developers don’t simply test their site to ensure all looks well on their Mac using Chrome, and stop there. They check out how the site renders on various version of Windows, and maybe even a few flavors of Linux. They test with Safari, Firefox, Opera, Edge, and even (ewww) Internet Explorer. Often (especially with IE) they have to implement small hacks to ensure a consistent viewing experience. They’d never know about this if they didn’t test.
It’s Not About The Tech
But testing doesn’t begin and end from the technical viewpoint. It’s from an application perspective too. It’s tempting to think that the differences between, say, iOS vs. Android lie in what’s under the hood, or how pretty the user interface may be. Not only is that false, but it’s missing the point.
Know Your Audience
This isn’t meant to be some kind of anti-Apple diatribe. I’d say the same thing to those marketers who are wedded to Android and “wouldn’t be seen dead” with an Apple device.
If you’re targeting an audience who uses a mobile device that’s different from the one you personally own, then you owe it to them to (at least) be familiar with that device. There may be usability variations that, while technically consistent, may affect some of the content, UX, and presentation decisions that you make. If you’re making such decisions based upon one example, you’re missing a trick.
I don’t care if you personally prefer one manufacturer’s phone to another: you are not your target audience. Your prospects aren’t 100% Apple – any more than they’re 100% Android, Windows, Linux, or anything else.
As the adage goes, “You can’t really understand another person’s experience until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes”.