Understanding and winning the mobile consumer

by Foolproof

Thanks to everyone who attended the webinar ‘Understanding & Winning the Mobile consumer’. As promised I’ve answered the questions we didn’t manage to get to within the session here.

If you missed the webinar you can view the recording in our Video section.

Q: Historically, designing for mobile is often focussed on transitional, quick, task-based goals, but we’ve been hearing a lot recently that this is no longer the case. How can we determine the context of each different scenario to satisfy all?

A: There’s certainly an opportunity to go beyond tackling quick, task-based goals with mobile. There is a strong element of both time filling and distraction with mobile consumers, and session lengths often exceed 30 minutes. For certain customer types this time is used to improve efficiency or to make their time productive. Others are looking for a degree of escapism and want to be entertained.

There’s an opportunity here for brands to engage consumers for prolonged periods of time, either through experiences that add utility, or that are immersive and enjoyable. When it comes to deciding on which contexts and scenarios you are trying to design for, you need to bring customers into the process to really get under the skin of their needs, expectations and preferences.

Q: Device wise, you said iPad is more for home use, but would it continue to be like this, or something bigger than mobile but smaller than iPad in demand?

A: New mobile devices are frequently being released and they vary in screen size, platform and capabilities. New devices such as the Galaxy Note blur the edges between a tablet and smart phone. These new hybrid devices have implications for context of use and expectations for the types of products and services that can be used on the move and at home. 66% of those who don’t already own a tablet expect to purchase one within the next 12 months which underlines the fact that a large number of consumers will be using both phones and tablets, and devices in between, at different times for different purposes. If brands want to deliver a joined up experience they need to design products and services for a wide range of devices and contexts.

Q: …and gambling when on the toilet?

A: The short answer is yes they do, and not just on the toilet. Going Mobile showed that mobile was spurring a significantly greater volume of betting activity with existing players and introducing new customers into the market as well.

Mobile enables bets to be placed at work for the first time for many and allows for spontaneity, placing a bet with friends during a sporting event in the pub or at home, all of which are new social contexts.

Importantly, these are incremental bets over and above what would have been placed if it wasn’t for the convenience of a mobile service.

Apps are perfect for servicing this type of business but bookmakers beware; a poorly designed mobile experience may not only lose you the bet, but also the customer. We saw this theme emerging from our diary study and the survey confirmed this showing that 38% of consumers had turned away from a brand because of a poor mobile experience.

Q: What do you think makes that emotional connection to a brand?

A: Relevancy, value and intimacy are obviously key drivers for overall emotional connection with brands. In the mobile context this translates into understanding the context of the consumer and delivering something relevant and of value in the right way.

If a brand can achieve balance across all the design principles developed through Going Mobile they are in a great place to win consumer attention and advocacy and earn the right to a place on the home screen of consumer’s mobiles.

Q: What about mobile version vs. responsive design?

A: Responsive design optimises the experience for a broad range of devices with varying screen sizes ensuring you’re catering for a broad range of customers. It doesn’t however enable mobile to be catered for in specific design terms as a specialised mobile site does.

The real weakness in responsive design is that it doesn’t enable you to take advantage of the functionality offered by mobile devices such as the camera, accelerometer and compass. We have answered this in more detail here ‘One size doesn’t fit all’

Q: Thanks a lot for sharing this. Have you considered differences between native and web apps, and if the very useful design principles you shared change between the two?

A: The second part of this question is the simplest to answer. The design principles stay the same as they are intended to act as overarching principles for mobile experience design and management. These should be used to inform, guide and measure all aspects of the mobile experience being served up to customers and to ensure consistency across the full range of mobile products and services including sites and apps.

In terms of native vs web app, there is no simple answer. There are a range of alternatives including generic and dedicated web apps, native apps and hybrids. Each has its own benefits and drawbacks, which organisations need to consider when making a decision on the approach that’s right for them.

One very strong benefit of native apps is that they give brands the opportunity to become one of the body organs of the consumer’s device. They can become the heart for a specific domain of activity such as banking, gaming or media consumption.

Think of the design principle ‘Your brand in my pocket’.

Q: The gambling mobile app story was interesting, clearly mobile opens up ways for people to bypass company internet policy. There are stories in the USA of people being asked for Facebook passwords at job interviews. Do you think we could see a ban on certain mobile apps being used by employees?

A: It’s a matter for individual corporate policy but the main thing to keep in mind is that there are a multitude of opportunities for engagement. Any corporate policies regarding mobile use in the work place won’t affect those other important moments in time and contexts such as lunch time or the daily commute when consumers are performing tasks, making purchases or seeking entertainment and distraction.

Q: What advice do you have for organisations developing B2B apps?

A: ontext really is king and it comes down to an understanding of what processes can be made available and which make sense to deliver in the mobile context. Our design principle ‘Grow and learn’ is very relevant in a B2B environment. Businesses need a deliberate strategy for evolving mobile strategy and services over time. Businesses need to connect with their customers to understand how this evolution will take place and what the objectives of the B2B customer are today and how they will be shaped in the future. 

Q: 1) Are the successful brands seeing the same user engagement across a variety of mobile devices or is one particular device or brand of devices (e.g. Apple) experiencing better take up? 2) Do brands tend to develop say “the perfect iPhone app” or do they tend to roll out multiple versions of their app across a number of devices?

A: This is a difficult question to answer but an interesting theme for a study should someone wish to explore it! It varies depending on the organisation and we haven’t seen a consistent approach outside of a general bias towards the Apple suite of products from a lot of major brands. There are stats available which highlight differences between the amount of data consumed by Android versus iOS users for instance, but nothing that we know of in the public domain which gives meaningful comparisons of actual consumer engagement or satisfaction. 

Q: How have QR codes failed to take the context of the mobile user into consideration in the UK?

A: Poor placement in situations that don’t lend themselves well to consumer interaction. They are also a bit clunky when it comes to use – the need for people to focus manually and the fact that it’s often difficult to trigger action.
We think QR codes came as a bit of a surprise for most UK consumers. They just appeared out of nowhere without a great deal of explanation on what they were or how consumers should engage with them. There’s an interesting article in The Guardian, ‘WTF, QR codes?’, which underpins this lack of understanding. We expect to see QR codes being overtaken by new technologies such as Near Field Communication (NFC) which offer simpler less demanding forms of consumer interaction.

What do you think?