Getting Mobile at Colchester Connected

This morning attending the Colchester Connected Networking Breakfast, I got a sneak preview of Colchester’s new firstsite, a building dedicated to the visual arts and more widely, the culture of Colchester. The breakfast is a recurring event, giving 170 businessmen and women from Colchester and the surrounding area the chance to meet, mingle and share knowledge.

After Coast Digital successfully presented at a previous Connected event I was invited to form part of the speaker line up along with Wayne Warner (firstsite), Richard Poole (author and international aid worker) and Nick Faint (MD of Redlin Print) – The subject of my presentation, the growth of Mobile Marketing and the need to prepare for it.

The Age of Mobile

According to a piece of Morgan Stanley Research, mobile internet usage will overtake that of desktop usage by 2013 meaning that with just 18 months to go, now is the time to take action.

I remember 10 years ago when businesses were questioning whether they needed a website at all, now the same is being asked about mobile websites and my answer is a most definite yes. The advent of smartphones and tablets (the iPad having sold 1million units in just a month testament to this) has dramatically changed the way in which we all consume content, including marketing messages, whether as a B2B or B2C consumer.

Recognising this shift in consumption and allowing for it in marketing strategy is a necessity.

Think Mobile, not Mobile Website

Unfortunately the first response of many businesses when the subject of mobile is discussed is to opt for the “just copy the current website” approach. This however is misguided and does not take into account the ways in which mobile users consume content.

A mobile website should be an evolution of your existing website, it should be kept as simple as possible and use stronger calls to action. The marketing message should be kept to a minimum, but concisely deliver the benefits of the product or service.

It is also important to look beyond the realm of marketing. Mobile gives companies the chance to interact with consumers, through social or through apps; you can even use responses to shape the development of the mobile site over time. There are even companies that have used mobile internally – M&S gave their executives iPads on which to check live financial data – showing the huge potential of mobile as an interactive tool.

How Can You Prepare?

According to the IAB “2011 is the last chance for brands to embrace [mobile] before it’s too late” and whilst this may seem a little dramatic it does highlight that companies, whatever the sector should be thinking about mobile now or risk being left behind.

To prepare you can grab your smartphone or tablet and take a look at what your competitors are doing. You can spend time investigating the levels of mobile traffic you are currently receiving and tie this down to specific mobile keywords.

With this information you can then form a mobile marketing strategy, a strategy which engages your customers, provides simple, easy to use interfaces and ultimately differentiates your company from your competition.

Mobile is, in my opinion a certainty in the future online landscape and key to reaching customers with meaningful, engaging marketing messages which provide users with a worthwhile experience and deliver the greatest ROI.