The 4 pillars of a successful mobile experience

Mobile is the next interactive playground, but many organizations are still struggling to integrate it effectively into their business strategies.

A lot of mobile applications are just smaller, simpler versions of websites and don’t really take advantage of the possibilities offered by mobile.

Listed below are four elements to consider before getting into mobile development.

1: Context

What is the reality of the mobile user experience?

Context is the first variable to consider in achieving mobile success. In the early discussion phase of your project, think about the daily realities your consumers face. This context is just as important as consumer segmentation or your conversion strategy.

Take the case of a financial institution that offers mobile tools identical to those on their website, for example. Do you think clients would really purchase a mortgage online or on their mobile device? Or are they more likely to use these mediums to access information (about mortgage rates, for example) quickly?

Another example would be — did you know that more people use the Yellow Pages mobile application to search for pizza companies than the Yellow Pages website? This highlights how important it is to identify specific uses for mobility.

2. Location

Where does interaction take place?

You probably know people who use Foursquare and who announce their location throughout the day so that they can get merchant discounts, “badges” or other deals — or simply to elicit responses from their friends.

Location-based marketing is when you intercept these potential consumers when they are in a location where they can be converted into buyers.

To take advantage of these opportunities effectively, you need a well-defined value proposition. For example, if I own a train company and I want to reach air travelers, I could wait until a potential consumer checks in at an airport and use this opportunity to encourage them to switch to train travel. I would demonstrate to that consumer the advantages of train travel and offer him/her a deal or promotion as an incentive to change their preferred mode of transport in the future.

Location-based marketing is slowly but surely becoming an indispensable marketing discipline. It’s no coincidence that mobile applications like Foursquare, Gowalla, Facebook Places and others have multiplied in number recently; they offer a wealth of information and they’re just starting to scratch the surface of potential.

3: Social

What are the different types of social interaction?

Many people use their mobile devices to connect with work, family and friends. It is therefore an extremely social tool and definitely worth integrating into your mobile offer.

The notion of social connectivity involves putting into context an action that occurs within a group of users. For example, if I am searching for a product in a supermarket or looking for a new restaurant to try, I want to know what other people (friends on Facebook or the general public) have to say about this product or restaurant.

If I announce this interest on my mobile device, I am declaring an intention to buy. Once a merchant knows my location, he can offer me a deal or promotion to try to influence my purchasing decision.

4: Platform

How can users access your offer?

Let’s assume you have defined your business objectives and identified a context of location-based interactions and social interactions (elements 1, 2 and 3). At this point, it is important to explore the technologies that will support your goals.

In an ideal world, mobile applications would provide the same functionality regardless of which platform the user is using. But mobile projects are strongly affected by the war going on right now between competing manufacturers.

It is therefore essential to analyze the habits of your target audience, in terms of how they use their mobile devices, and to synchronize this information with your strategy. For example, if you try to sell iPhones to a target audience that currently uses Blackberries, you won’t be able to effectively achieve your business goals, your location-based interactions or your social interactions.

With mobile, as with all business, your choices should always be made according to your customers’ needs and desires rather than vice versa.

This article was originally published in the spring 2011 issue of Marketing QC.