Mobile devices aren’t the past and they may not depict the future, but they’re definitely the present. Globally, the number of mobile users is increasing faster than desktop users as people spend more time on their mobile devices than on desktops.

mobile first strategy

The market is brimming with mobile phones, smartphones, tablets, mini tablets, phablets, and even smart watches. 163.9 million smartphones are in use in the United States alone.

mobiForge report provides a few facts and statistics about the behavior of mobile internet users to put this in perspective.

  • There are over 1.2 billion mobile web users worldwide.
  • In the U.S., 25 percent of all mobile web users are mobile-only, meaning they use mobile devices exclusively, without using laptops or desktops to reach the web.
  • Mobile device sales are growing across the board, with over 85 percent of new handsets able to access the mobile web.

But these facts also show that 75 percent of mobile web users have yet to put their desktops and laptops on the back burner.

Why so much fuss over mobile?

The answer is simple: Google. In 2010, Erin Schmidt announced that Google was going to take a mobile-first approach to web design, and on April 21, 2015, Google released a mobile-friendly ranking algorithm called “Mobilegeddon.”

After the release of Mobilegeddon, pundits speculated that over 40 percent of websites would be affected and Google itself reported a 4.7 percent increase in mobile-friendly sites in the first two months after the launch.

As more people use small-screened devices like smartphones to browse the net, the outmoded responsive strategies of old are becoming less effective every day. In today’s market, providing an optimal user experience requires a mobile-first strategy.

When the term “mobile first” was coined by Luke Wroblewski in 2009, it was used to describe a design principle applied to the creation of anything mobile, including websites and apps. But post-Mobilegeddon, mobile first isn’t considered just a design principle—it’s become a business strategy. Case in point, Facebook currently gains 75% of its advertising revenue through ads running on cellphones.

mobile first strategy

How to create a mobile-first strategy for your business

A mobile-first business strategy means basing your strategy around mobile devices to intensify your company’s engagement with its audience.

Here are some insights into what you need to know to develop the right mobile-optimized business strategy:

Understand your customers’ mobile behavior

The more you understand your customers’ mobile habits, the more compelling your business strategy will be. Understanding your users’ mobile universe will help you create a strategy to make your site or app cater to them. Answering questions like these will help you gain insight into your customers’ mobile habits.

  • What percentage of your audience accesses your site or app on mobile devices? Do they use tablets or smartphones?
  • What do your users do on your site, independently of and in comparison to your overall traffic?
  • Which content do your users access the most?
  • How much time do your users spend on your site? (Knowing your users’ average attention span will help determine what kind of content you should provide them with.)
  • Which of your platforms (social media, your blog, email, etc.) does your audience use most on mobile?

Calculate the benefits that your strategy provides your users

Strategize how your mobile-first strategy can help your consumers. Think of the benefits you can provide your users before building your mobile application or website. Addressing the following questions will help you assess your strategy.

  • How is your mobile experience different from the desktop one?
  • Does your mobile site or app provide faster results than your desktop one?
  • Will users be able to accomplish tasks through your mobile strategy?

Design an adaptive and responsive mobile-first website

More and more people are making decisions while using phones and tablets. If you have both a regular website and a mobile website, chances are your site doesn’t look good on different sized mobile devices. This may be because your site isn’t adaptive. Therefore, focus on making an adaptive site that automatically adjusts to each user’s screen size.

Choose between a mobile website and a mobile application

A general rule of thumb for mobile-first strategies is to either opt for mobile websites or mobile applications. A large number of businesses are going app only. If you’re aiming for a general brand presence to deliver content or media on the mobile web, go for a mobile website. However, if you want to deliver functionality and tools to your end users, build a mobile application.

The mantra to remember when you’re building mobile websites or apps is this: progressive enhancement. Also, keep in mind the three parameters of progressive enhancement: code, test, and improvise. These three parameters aren’t done once and then you’re finished. Change is the new constant.

Optimize your content marketing strategy for mobile

With the release of Google’s Hummingbird algorithm, strategies for mobile sites and apps have come into the spotlight. Infuse your mobile content with videos and visual content like photographs and infographics, and focus on headlines that grab your reader’s attention. Additionally, add a voice search feature to your apps and mobile websites, as search semantics has changed.

Localize your strategy

A Google study suggests that 40 percent of all mobile searches were performed with a local intent, and this number is rising. It is more important than ever to know what your customers are searching for locally.

To do this, get tools like Google Trends, which lets you analyze search trends by geographic area. Then, subscribe to Google Alerts to receive regular updates on regionally trending topics that might be used to create new content. You can also join local online groups on LinkedIn or follow the Twitter accounts of local organizations to get local information to improve your mobile marketing strategies.

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