What is a “smart phone”? Your Blackberry or iPhone. Or, per O’Reilly Media,
“A Smartphone combines the functions of a cellular phone and a handheld computer in a single device. It differs from a normal phone in that it has an operating system and local storage, so users can add and store information, send and receive email, and install programs to the phone as they could with a PDA.”
Consider these facts:
- There are almost as many people buying smart phones as there are people buying laptops: 115 million smart phones were purchased worldwide last year
- Website visitors using a mobile device increased 34 percent year-over-year, to 56.9 million in July 2009 according to The Nielsen Company.
- The most popular non-phone activities among smart phone users are visiting websites (80%), taking photos (74%), and using email (73%).
- Over half (53%) of U.S. smart phone users download mobile content from the web at least once a day or thereabouts, and click on mobile ads.
- Thirty-five percent request coupons or further information and a quarter (24%) make purchases.
- eBay alone saw mobile sales worth more than a half a billion dollars this past year, which equates to 5 million item transactions.
The media is clearly abuzz with iPhone mania these days. And of course, there are a number of wine specific iPhone apps; they aggregate wines available in the U.S. market and provide reviews, price comparisons, consumer user generated content, food & wine pairings, etc.. See VinTank’s report here for a complete evaluation on the latest.
But if you aren’t in the market to build your own iPhone app, it's still important to ensure you’re giving consumers the information and experience they need via their smart phones. Your email and website executions are critical places to start.
A recent report by Experian CheetahMail revealed that over a quarter of total U.S. consumers now read emails on their smart phone. Most emails are being deleted before being read, however. The main reasons? Poor formatting and a lack of brand recognition. If you’re marketing to your own list, brand recognition shouldn’t be an issue. But formatting can be.
Think about the last email you sent. Open it up on your own cell phone. Can you read it? Does it load quickly? Does it give you quick information to take action? Best practices in email marketing have always been to keep them short, to the point, easily read/understood and with a clear call to action. Now more than ever it’s important to follow that direction.
In addition, ensuring your emails are relevant to your audience is critical: segment your list for appropriate messaging, and optimize your subject line to ensure action is taken by that segment. The closer you can make your brand, message and promotion relevant and meaningful to your customer, the better. If you only had a few seconds on a computer to entice the reader to open your email, you have even less on a phone.
Most importantly, make it easy for the consumer to access more information. A clear message that links directly to a web page that allows the consumer to complete the desired action is critical. Slow page loading on a smart phone can lead to huge frustration if the information sought is not found quickly due to image loading or excessive and unnecessary content.
How well is your website being browsed on a smart phone? Want to see something scary? Check out these sites to see how your site may be presented on a handset:
Google OR Skweezer
Clearly one solution is to create a mobile website (.mobi) or top level domain specific to a mobile user experience. This will allow for a distinct website which you can market to your mobile users, and which presents a more mobile-relevant presentation and click path.
Not ready for a mobile website strategy? You can still review your site for best practices in clear navigation, simple messaging and a reduced “click to purchase” path. Ensuring the same can help your site read well in a mobile environment. And please, if you do create a mobile site, make sure you offer access to that site clearly from your .com home page: “Click here to read on your mobile phone”.
For mobile web navigation, make sure the action desired to be taken by your audience is no more than 1-2 clicks from the homepage. Slow loading pages on mobile phones will make people leave quickly if they’re left waiting for loads and having to click through too many pages.
In addition, since browsing in a mobile environment can mean a lot of scrolling around pages to find what you’re looking for, consider breaking the traditional rule of keeping navigation and page frame consistency… a change in the basic landscape can quickly indicate to a customer that they’ve successfully moved to another page. Keep only the necessary framed items (logo, homepage link, headers) consistent.
Finally, in a web environment, the navigation is still critical. But it needs to be short and directed. Your .com environment may have the task of addressing several potential audiences, each with distinct goals. In a mobile environment, consider what you want to accomplish and for whom. Keep it as narrow as possible and it will be far easier to reduce the navigation, page layout and format to the basic elements necessary to guide that audience to its main goal.
It’s no surprise that the mobile world is here to stay. It’s only getting more sophisticated by the day (with some pretty exciting stuff happening in Japan and Europe already). Next holiday season is going to be even “smarter” – use the next 9 months to consider, test and begin finding the mobile strategy that’s right for your business.
Sources: Compete Smart Phone Survey 2009, Forrester Research, 2009, eTailing Group Mobile Survey, 2009, Universal McCann/Platform-A Mobile Survey, 2009, Crowd Science Smartphone Survey, 4/09