Mobile: Why It’s Not Just for Millennials

Examining The Mobile Misconception

June 8, 2016

Note: This post would not have been possible without this in-depth mobile marketing post from Heidi Cohen.

You know what people say about a specific generation that shall remain nameless: they just can’t stay off their phones. They never interact with each other in person anymore. It seems like they’re constantly poking and swiping on their miraculous, but intrusive, pocket supercomputers.

Yes, it’s sad but true: baby boomers are absolutely addicted to their mobile devices.

Was that not the generation you had in mind? When you think of a group of people hunched over their phones, never making eye contact, odds are you think of millennials. Like most stereotypes about my generation, though, mobile device usage isn’t necessarily a millennial-only phenomenon.

Research shows that 73% of people always have their mobile device with them. And I’m guessing the other 27% are just waiting for someone to call so they can figure out where they left their phone. That’s a far bigger market share than just millennials.

Not only that, 75% of Internet users went online via a mobile device last year. It’s a steadily rising trend, with mobile use slowly eclipsing all other ways to get online. Even if your target audience is mostly Gen X, baby boomers, or World War II veterans, they’re on mobile.

It’s time to stop thinking of mobile marketing as an add-on for millennials. Here are a few ways to make sure social media advertising on mobile is integrated into your overall marketing strategy.

1. Responsive design, not mobile design

It almost goes without saying that your website needs to be optimized for mobile users. It’s a usability issue, of course, but also an SEO issue. Google prioritizes mobile-friendly sites because it tries to serve the most useful search results first. So in a very real sense, web design is part of marketing.

There are a few different ways to make your site mobile-friendly. One is to package it in a standalone app (more on that later). Another is to have a static mobile site: a stripped-down, separate version of your site that serves up a mobile-optimized experience. That practice is falling out of fashion, though, as mobile devices become more capable of rendering full websites.

Responsive design is the best solution for creating a consistent experience. Rather than creating a separate mobile site, a responsive site uses code to change the layout based on the device that’s accessing it. Even better, it frees you from having to update content on two separate sites. Anything you add will automatically show up regardless of where the traffic is coming from.

2. Cross-device attribution

Attribution is already a thorny problem for marketers looking to prove ROI, and the addition of mobile traffic further complicates the issue. Fully a third of consumers perform research on mobile before buying from a desktop or in person. That means mobile traffic may appear to be low-conversion. In reality, though, it is a crucial step on the buyers’ journey.

Proper attribution across devices is still very much a work in progress. But there are steps marketers can take right now to begin understanding customer behavior. This article from Mobile Marketing Magazine is a good primer on the current state of the art.

3. Third-party apps versus your own app

How many apps would you estimate you use on your phone? For most of us, there are a few go-to apps we use every day, and the others are just taking up storage space. Forrester Research estimates that in the US, consumers spend 84% of their time in five or fewer apps.

While it may seem like a no-brainer to develop a mobile app to reach your audience, the odds are not in your favor for becoming part of someone’s daily routine. Either your app needs to be an indispensable tool people will be compelled to use—a tall order—or it’s better to stick with third-party apps.

Choosing third-party support is just the mobile version of going where your audience is. It makes far more sense to have a responsive site full of rich content that your consumer can find via Google, than to ask for an app download early in your relationship.

First-party apps can be a good way to manage loyalty programs or ongoing customer care, certainly. But even those functions might be better assigned to an app your audience is already using.

4. Email is a mobile activity, too

The growing prominence of mobile devices has led to a resurgence of popularity for email. It’s virtually the only decades-old technology marketers can still rely on. Even we millennials, with our Snapchats and our WhatsApps, are addicted to email. The Harvard Business Review found that millennials check their email more than any other age group. Nearly 98% of millennials check their personal email at work, and 87% check their work email at home.

The reason email is popular again is that it’s a good filler activity on a phone. Once all the candies are crushed, and you’ve read all your feeds, email will be there. It’s an ideal type of content for consuming on a small screen, it’s constantly refreshing, and with modern filters it’s free of the noise that dominates social media.

So email is a definite must-have for mobile marketing. The only trick is to make sure your emails avoid the spam filter. That can mean part of your mobile strategy is building a subscriber base who will opt in to your email. That’s part of any solid marketing strategy, and further demonstrates how mobile marketing is no longer an add-on, but an integral part of good marketing.

Opportunity Is Notifying

The omnipresence of mobile devices across generations should be a clear wake-up call message for marketers. Right now, mobile marketing is still in its infancy, which means there are big wins out there for marketers who get it right. Use the tips in this article to develop a strategy that prioritizes mobile. Because whether they’re typing, tapping, or swiping to your site, your audience expects a top-notch user experience backed with valuable content.

For exclusive research and insights by millennials, for millennials, download The LinkedIn Millennial Playbook.

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