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Eight principles of a mobile-first strategy

Next-Gen Technology

It's no longer accurate to say that operating a business with a mobile-first mindset is just a trend. In the Age of Assistance, when hyper-personalization is king and consumers spend more than three and a half hours on their mobile devices each day, every business should be putting mobile at the forefront of their customer experience strategy.

Of course, it is much easier said than done. Companies hoping to meet their customers' needs and preferences must change their outlook on customer engagement and customer service. Building an effective mobile strategy requires adhering to the following eight rules — all of which are designed to capitalize on mobile technology while better serving your customers.

1. Emphasize relationships

According to Kirsten Jepson, director of product strategy with TELUS International, a successful mobile-first strategy needs to focus on offering, rather than selling. This doesn't mean revenue isn't a priority. Rather, mobile users will respond better to your products and/or services if it's relevant to their lives.

"Only supply information about an offer when it's warranted," Jepson says. "Pushing your customers too hard can damage your relationship with them."

2. Focus on invitation, not interruption

Similarly, it's important for businesses to serve before they sell. Yes, your objective is to engage your customers. But the best mobile strategies blend customer-centric service with utility for more palatable customer-company interactions.

With a medium like mobile, it's important to respect your customers' time, boundaries and desires. Flashing your product at them and demanding action isn't likely to produce the response you're looking for, but if you connect with them through quality digital content and customer service, their interest will grow.

3. Utilize precision targeting

The mobile platform is unique in that it allows for hyper-personalization, identifying the neighborhoods where your customers live, work and shop. It's an unprecedented opportunity to learn more about consumers than ever before, eliminating the need to blast specific prospects with offers and messages intended for the masses. Targeted offers have become appreciated and expected.

"Only give coupons to the people you know are interested," Jepson says. "Keep your offers customer-specific, region-specific and relevant."

4. Communicate across multiple connected channels

Creating an omnichannel experience is a must in the digital age, and mobile is a big part of that.

"Mobile apps can deliver bite-sized capabilities that are highly utility-oriented," Jepson says. Think of them as the primary engagement step in your interaction with your customers. Optimize them so that they're a key part of a fast and frictionless experience across channels and platforms — and always make sure to keep your content, messaging and brand image consistent.

5. Operate at the speed of the customer

Think about the daily reality of the modern consumer. "When I walk into a Starbucks, the store knows from location data that I'm there, and a message pops up inviting me to skip the queue by ordering and paying through an app," says Jepson. "The speed of the average customer transaction has changed, and taking advantage of the mobile channel to deliver a faster experience online makes every interaction more effective."

To create an always-on mobile environment, brands must not only meet customer needs immediately, they must also provide utility and offer multiple self-serve options. Nowadays, consumers don't just want this kind of experience — they expect it.

6. Location is a profile, not a place

Consider location in the context of the customer, says Jepson. Location is very personal to consumers; it says as much about their lives, wants and needs as any behavioral or psychographic data available to brands.

Using this information is an important step to becoming a mobile-first company. Businesses can couple location-based targeting with historical customer data to create personalized, meaningful and welcome customer experiences that are more likely to convert.

7. Create moments that matter

"From a target-marketing perspective, we've never seen anything like mobile," Jepson says. She offers the example of a recent visit to a fast food restaurant during a busy travel day: On a tight schedule but desperate for a bite to eat, Jepson stopped at a McDonald's and was told the experience would be faster if she downloaded the chain's mobile app.

After the trip, she began receiving notifications of nearby McDonald's locations and coupons for deals. "I didn't think there would be value for me in a fast food chain's app, but now every time I get a notification for a new deal, I actually find myself considering grabbing a quick snack or a coffee."

The lesson for other companies? Take advantage of mobile's omnipresence in your customers' lives by using every data element available to ensure every moment they spend with your brand counts.

8. Understand that today's conversations are consumer-controlled, not brand-driven

Jepson's ultimate advice to companies working on their mobile-first strategy is to let the customer be their guide. Consumers have a lot of options when it comes to interacting with your brand and customer service agents, so give them the tools they need to engage and allow them to initiate contact in the channel, or channels they prefer.

"It's not a push or pull situation," Jepson explains. "You can do both, but you have to make it very relational to your customers' experience."

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