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Mobile first – well, kind of

By
June 20, 2013

Matt Goynes is mobile marketing manager at Expedia Inc.’s Hotels.com

Matt Goynes is mobile marketing manager at Expedia Inc.’s Hotels.com

By Matt Goynes

Having a mobile-first mentality as a business is not quite as simple as most mobile industry professionals would have you believe.

It seems that no matter which mobile conference or summit you attend, someone is talking about mobile first.

Dial down
This strategy of “mobile first” is the idea that every business decision you make as a company needs to give strong consideration to mobile opportunities or implications first, and ahead of other sales and distribution channels. This sounds smart, right?

I mean, mobile for most companies is the fastest-growing medium, with no signs of slowing down as U.S. smartphone penetration just exceeded 50 percent of the market.

Additionally, most mobile users want to be treated special or get exclusive deals and discounts for being tech-savvy early adopters and loyal users of a company’s mobile products. So why not think of mobile users first when making business decisions?

Well, kind of.

It is not quite that simple.

Top the desk
First, mobile may not make sense for every marketer and industry out there.

Secondly, mobile may not be a revenue-driving medium, or have the potential to produce the lion’s share for your business such as some companies in the financial sector, for instance.

Most consumers are not buying life insurance via a mobile application, but they may use a tablet app to manage their 401(k) investment plan, which is more of a retention and CRM tool than a revenue driver.

In that case, it does not make sense to build out a product or strategy on mobile first in lieu of your desktop site or bricks-and-mortar store.

If mobile is a revenue-driving business medium where a large percentage of your customers reach you through a mobile device, then here is something to consider.

Even a mobile-fast-forward company such as Hotels.com, where more than 20 percent of the business is from mobile, the non-mobile part of the business is still the majority of the revenue stream and therefore priority cannot be given to mobile at the expense of the rest of the business.

Most product rollouts happen on the desktop first and then mobile where appropriate.

Some products or marketing strategies may not make sense for the desktop business and, therefore by de facto, mobile gets first look and priority.

THE CHALLENGE comes in balancing mobile growth without hindering your core business.

Until the mobile revenue share of your business demands priority over your non-mobile business, then it may never make sense to implement a “mobile first” strategy.

Most of this shift for your business will be consumer-driven. The trick is staying in front of consumer demand and aligning your product and strategy with that demand.

Matt Goynes is mobile marketing manager at Expedia Inc.’s Hotels.com, Dallas, TX. Reach him at mgoynes@hotels.com.

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