Integrating Mobile, User Experience, and Analytics in Your Marketing Strategy
Published: July 8, 2013
No marketing strategy is complete if it doesn’t address the rapid rise of mobile devices and mobile apps, the increasing importance of user experience, and the power of Web analytics. All too often, though, marketers treat mobile, user experience, and Web analytics as disparate strategic areas—focusing on only one at a time and overlooking the ways in which they intersect and impact each other. Looking at these key areas together produces better results for marketers, analysts, and designers alike.
Designing for Mobile: More Devices, More Diversity
The rapid global adoption of mobile devices has changed the way we drive marketing innovations across industries and geographies. Global Android device activations are out-pacing the US birthrate, and there is no sign of the mobile adoption rate slowing any time soon. On the contrary, mobile devices continue to proliferate—and diversify—at an astounding rate.
- Juniper Research predicts that 350 million workers worldwide will use mobile devices for work by 2014—twice the number who use them today.
- Gartner predicts that mobile phones will overtake PCs this year as the most common Web-access device worldwide.
- By 2015, tablet shipments will reach about 50% of notebook computer shipments, according to Gartner, with Windows 8 likely in third place behind Google Android and Apple iOS.
The lesson here is that designing for mobile first means a lot more than designing for the iPhone. In a world where there is an increasing diversity of smartphones, tablets, and slate devices, with varying dimensions, aspect ratios, and operating systems, it is up to you to make sure that your mobile user experience is just as engaging and easy to use as your desktop user experience—no matter what device a user happens to be using. The days of pinch-and-zoom Web user experiences are nearly behind us. Most marketers understand that bad user experiences result in high bounce rates and weaker Web site performance—and ultimately, weaker sales. Obsessing about mobile without considering user experience is likely to lead to disaster.
Designing for Optimal User Experience: Native Apps or HTML5?
Amidst all the rapid changes and uncertainty in the mobile-device landscape, it’s becoming increasingly clear that there are now viable alternatives to creating native apps—the apps that users can download for a specific platform such as iOS, Android, BlackBerry, or Windows Phone. We can no longer ignore the HTML5 versus native applications debate. HTML5-powered Web applications offer an enticing option that doesn’t require arduous app store approvals, platform-specific updates, or the headaches of multiplatform maintenance.
While native apps may still hold an edge in performance, the richness of their user experiences, and opportunities for monetization, HTML5 offers advantages in other areas such as cross-platform deployment efficiencies, control over distribution, and the ability to deal with platform-fragmentation challenges. Many marketers are turning to native/Web hybrids, releasing an application wrapper for a device-specific platform through the appropriate marketplace, then updating the application’s content within that wrapper via the Web. This eliminates some of the challenges around app updates and notifications and is worth considering for brands that need to update content or features frequently.
Native apps aren’t going extinct any time soon, but unless your user experience requires integration with device hardware such as a smartphone’s camera, you should give serious consideration to the Web-application option. Perhaps the most important advantage of choosing to develop Web applications rather than native applications is that they provide the opportunity to more fully integrate your mobile user experience with your desktop Web analytics. The advantages regarding distribution and updates follow closely behind.
Web Analytics: How Are We Doing, and How Can We Do Better?
Content and engagement have never been more important in attracting and retaining visitors to your Web site—whether on the desktop or a mobile device. Google has essentially out-gamed the SEO gamers. Yes, there are still SEO best practices, but your search rankings increasingly depend on the quality of the interactions on your site. The time users have spent on your site, return visits, clicks, and other measures of user engagement play a more important—and growing—role in the rise or fall of your company’s search rankings than do keyword selection and metadata.
Web metrics can tell you a lot more than how many visits your site gets. They also provide clues about the contexts in which people access your site, as well as information about mobile users and how they’re interacting with your site. Are visits via mobile devices on the rise? Which devices are your visitors using? What can demographic information from those devices tell you about your success in reaching your target market? Are mobile bounce rates higher than those for the desktop? Are visitors fleeing from the version of your Web site that appears on their smartphone?
Back to our theme of integration: It no longer makes sense to undertake a Web site redesign and develop an SEO strategy without also considering mobile devices and the user experience that site visitors have when using those devices. Consider the overall customer journey and how every interaction impacts every other interaction. Site visitors essentially vote on the quality of your site’s content by the way they interact with it. Using Web analytics that emphasize the level and quality of user interactions on your site is the best way to anticipate search performance and refine your marketing strategy.
Whether you are targeting enterprise users or consumers, your customers are likely to visit your site on mobile devices at some point—and they demand engaging content and a seamless, high-quality user experience that is optimized for whatever device they are using. If you don’t deliver, your site ranking will sink rather than swim. A savvy marketing executive needs to understand that a truly effective marketing strategy must consider mobile, user experience, and Web analytics together.
Marketers must address the rise of mobile devices and mobile apps by delivering mobile-friendly user experiences that deliver better analytics results across their brand. It’s time to stop treating mobile, user experience, and analytics as disparate strategic areas. Instead, look at them as three complementary elements of your marketing strategy to produce better results and improve your company’s bottom line.