No time to stop — Mobile pushes new boundaries

The other day I was walking a client through a social media strategy workshop. At the end of the long day, he turned to me and said, “And we’re probably behind on mobile too!”

I could only sigh and nod in agreement.  Of course he’s right.  Just when we were starting to get social media down, the mobile imperative grows stronger. Within a few years, the smartphone will be the first screen of access for a majority of Internet users.  Most of the time, it already is for me.  It’s an essential news, connection and productivity tool for anybody on the go.

There is no time to pause, there is no time to breathe. If you haven’t started optimizing your Internet presence for mobile, you’re probably already behind.

There are 5 billion mobile subscriptions in the world, compared to just 1.7 billion people with Internet access. There’s your business case folks.

New information from the Pew Center’s Internet and American Life Project emphasizes this point. If you’re not familiar with this initiative, it has become my favorite source of reliable research. I’m going to be on a panel presentation with the director in Denver in October and am totally psyched.

Any way, the report points out that mobile phones have become a near-ubiquitous tool for information-seeking and communicating—83% of American adults own some kind of cell phone—and these devices have an impact on many aspects of their owners’ daily lives. In a nationally representative telephone survey, they found that, during the 30 days preceding the interview:

Half of all adult cell owners (51%) had used their phone at least once to get information they needed right away. One quarter (27%) said that they experienced a situation in the previous month in which they had trouble doing something because they did not have their phone at hand.

40% of cell owners said they found themselves in an emergency situation in which having their phone with them helped.

29% of cell owners turned their phone off for a period of time just to get a break from using it.

13% of cell owners pretended to be using their phone in order to avoid interacting with the people around them.

Text messaging and picture taking continue to top the list of ways that Americans use their mobile phones—three quarters of all cell owners use their phones for each of these purposes. Other relatively common activities include sending photos or videos to others, as well as accessing the internet.

One third of American adults (35%) own a smartphone of some kind , and these users take advantage of a wide range of their phones’ capabilities. Fully nine in ten smartphone owners use text messaging or take pictures with their phones, while eight in ten use their phone to go online or send photos or videos to others. Many activities—such as downloading apps, watching videos, accessing social networking sites or posting multimedia content online—are almost entirely confined to the smartphone population.

So how are you and your business adjusting to the mobile world? Have you started?

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  • Certainly food for thought Mark, in the last company that I worked for, people were talking about QR and Facebook instead of mobile. Mobile will certainly be big. I’m actually looking forward to see how mobile will affect the election. LoL!

    Everyone is talking about how twitter affects the election, I’m thinking, who knows, in 2012, someone might come up with a mobile application to push news rather than Facebook and Twitter. Looking forward to see more campaigns on mobile too of course. 

  • Nowhere has the mobile become king than in Africa and specifically Kenya. Mobile money locally known as MPesa is now moving more cash in a month than Western Union moves in a year…and that is just in Kenya…leading to an explosion of baking services involving mobile phones…. The cellphone is now so ubiquitous to be ignored. Ignore it at your own risk….

  •  p { margin-bottom: 0.08in; }Coming from the banking industry,
    mobile technology has been placed in the spotlight. Though my company
    does not have a strong social media presence, we are about to launch
    beta versions of the different mobile options for our customer base.

    Mobile apps will be another our
    industry will be able to provide help for our customers and will
    serve as an outlet similar to internet banking and traditional bank
    branches. I’m certain this rings true throughout several
    other service based industries.

  • Good points.  On the one hand, I’ve noticed many companies still using Flash or hover elements prominently in their websites, which don’t show up properly on mobile sites.  

    On the other hand, I appreciate companies more that automatically switch to a mobile version of the site when I’m on a mobile device, or who have a mobile app version of their site that I can use.

  • Biztag

    This Article was very helpful with Mobile statistics. Thank you for posting. Biztag

  • Biztag

    This is amazing, where did you get these facts. Thank you.

  • Mark, a good perspective, as always.

    To me, what we see in mobile will be really interesting when companies switch their mindset to mobile-first. This is more than apps or even creating content specifically for mobile.

    Imagine the following questions beings asked in a marketing department. They seem outrageous today, but they probably will not be in just two years.

    1) The email looks great. How does it look on a laptop?
    2) How do we need to adapt this content for a full size monitor?
    3) Do we need to create a separate version of our website for computer users, or is the mobile site ok for everyone?

    Today, companies are still thinking about mobile as the second channel, the one they need to add support for. The discussion of apps and mobile-optimized sites and content are all about adapting a companies core marketing components so they are mobile friendly. But if we really look at current usage and trends, mobile needs to become the assumption, not the extension.

    Thanks for the reminder!

    — @wittlake

    (Anecdotal proof: I’m commenting from my mobile)

  • What makes this especially interesting is that you have this perspective from Malaysia. Good insight Aaron, thanks!

  • Yes, I agree. In many ways Africa is leading the charge as they leapfrog other technologies like desk top computers. Many innovations are arising from that continent, which is wonderful to see.

  • I saw this Citi app where you can deposit your check via your phone. The bank never has to have a physical copy. A bit unnerving, but it’s happening!

  • Mobile optimization is exactly what my client was hinting at in this post. We really need to be working on it NOW. Thanks!

  • Thanks for commenting.

  • Margie

    Hi Mark,

    Yes, a lot of companies are saying, to borrow a quote from 40 year old virgin, “holy crap, you have to get on that man!”

    As with social media, we need to look at how these folks are using mobile devices. Even as a marketer, I don’t use my phone because I’m hoping to see tons of ads or come-ons. I feel companies are going to have to look at being useful rather than sales oriented. Talk about a revolution!

    I just hope people don’t jump into this world too quickly.

  • Confession: I was down to the final paragraph, and stopped reading because I suddenly felt inspired to take a quick video of my dog (who was snoring in my lap). I took the video, and immediately shared it via MMS, and THEN finished reading the highly accurate article.

    True story from one of your statistics!

  • Beautifully said, Great angle Eric!

  • Very interesting and relevant perspective Margie, thank you!

  • Too much.  Good story Arminda!

  • I’ve been touting this to clients for a couple of years and every new stat just keep justifying my calls. But all I get is a tired “Yeah, yeah. We know.” I don’t think any of this is a surprise to anyone with a smartphone but I believe clients are getting exhausted trying to keep up.

  • This is not an uncommon story Mark. In fact, I think that marketers were just trying to figure out the mobile smartphone strategies when the tablet swooped in and made them wonder what basket to put their eggs in. The adoption rate of these technologies has been at a pace that marketer’s have never had to tend to in the past and resources are scarce (the same team is trying to do everything when they really need a few teams really good at one thing). My thoughts to marketers is to put down your notion of building a fancy app for the moment and get your website optimized for mobile devices – and make sure it works. Fact is, we – the brand – cannot control what device you – the consumer – is going to pick up on any given day. You could be looking at your laptop, your smartphone and your tablet and my content better be ready and looking good regardless of which device you choose to access it on.

  • Pingback: 3 Questions For When Mobile is the First Screen « Digital B2B Marketing()

  • Pingback: 3 Questions For When Mobile is the First Screen — B2B Digital()

  • Thomas

    Great post. Thanks for share. Love it.

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