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Why mobile websites are not worth it anymore

Updated on April 27, 2016

Smartphones are getting smarter and smaller with each passing quarter. In addition to smarter and smaller, some of them are getting cheaper too which makes the prospect of owning one of these ubiquitous gadgets really exciting. Well, to be honest, it’s past the excitement stage and reached the mandatory stage where it’s almost impossible to survive and keep up in the Web layered world without owning a smartphone. How would you buy things without a smartphone? How would you hail a taxi? How would you post on Facebook? How would do so many other things? It’s as if the real world doesn’t exist.

But after smartphones invaded the planet, poor desktop computers have been relegated to the the lower tier. Something like top flight football club Aston Villa which actually is soon to become not so top flight being set to get kicked out of the English Premier League. In the last quarter of 2015, more than 400 million smartphones were sold worldwide. That’s a number as big as the biggest dinosaur and it is only expected to grow bigger in the coming years as demand grows further in emerging markets. Sales figures are not the subject of discussion here but what the spread of smartphones means for businesses world over.

As simple as it has been, marketing and advertising is the most common method businesses use to spread awareness about their products with the aim of pushing prospective customers through the marketing and sales funnel turning out customers. But the arrival of smartphones has slightly changed the paradigms of advertising and marketing. Unwilling to evolve and adapt, many businesses still market for the desktop sized web pages and just resize the same to suit the smartphone. A few years ago, this would have been the apt strategy but not anymore. Let’s see why.

Smartphones getting the better of desktops

They are cheaper, they are smaller, they are always running and they are always connected. This makes smartphones extremely simple to use and their advancement means they are increasingly becoming a substitute for desktop computers. In the United States, smartphone only internet users have far exceeded desktop usage with more than half of media consumption happening on smartphones. What this means is mobile should become the primary marketing destination for businesses intending to reach out to their customers. To put this in context, desktop and laptop sales in 2015 touched about 323 million units worldwide which is less than the total smartphones sales in one quarter. Laptops and desktops are probably mostly used at work which is not the best space for advertising. Customers can be reached when marketed to in their personal space.

Internet economy evolving into the mobile economy

In the Web economy, the internet is the interface layer between customers and businesses. As the internet economy boomed, marketers started targeting the websites and web searches to reach out to customers. But a normal web page isn’t exactly suitable to the screen size of a mobile phone which means several optimizations have to be made so that same page is both desktop and mobile compatible. Mobile is so important that search monopolist Google even rolled out a search algorithm last year that is mobile friendly. Smartphones have pervaded every economy resulting in another top layer that is the mobile economy.

Smartphone users use browsers for search, apps for transactions

Absurd as it may sound, even the Web may dwarf before mobile apps that growing at a rate faster than the production rate of smartphones. And the rate of production of smartphones is by no means a small number considering that there are more than 100 noted companies worldwide manufacturing smartphones. And smartphone users don’t use web pages anymore, they use mobile apps. Consider this: At a time when smartphones are pervading everything around, the share of Social Logins from mobile browsers has been falling in the last one year from about half in Q2 2015 to just 19% in Q1 2016, according to the Customer Identity Preference Trends report for Q1 2016. And the great Android only had a 3% share of all Social Logins during that period which is so astonishing. Mac and Windows based desktops took the lion’s share of 61%. What explains such a drastic drop? The end of 2014 and beginning of 2015 was the time when mobile was really beginning to launch itself coinciding with the Google algorithm change. But as time passed, mobile apps came in and mobile browser based sign-ins starting fading. Typically, customers login to websites when using desktops but on smartphones, browsers are only used to search for something. Logins are most commonly through mobile apps. So here’s the lesson for businesses: If you are targeting mobile, get yourself an app built. Mobile website just doesn’t suffice anymore.

Mobile app is another web property but needs aggregation

Getting a dedicated mobile app is a key marketing tactic today. But that’s not where it ends. Mobile apps are just another web property which means they have a separate authentication, a separate database, separate mechanisms and so forth. But that’s not good for business. What’s good for business is a single customer view across all the properties being run. So if your customer logs into your website and makes a transaction, and on another day, logs into your mobile app to make a similar transaction but sees the website transaction is not in the history, it could be really baffling. Something we call an utterly inconsistent Customer Experience. The issue here is that customers won’t get mad for a missing transaction listing but the lack of disconnect between the two properties and the eventual creation of two projections of the same customer on the website and the mobile app. Customer Experience is not just one touchpoint done well but a cumulative effect of all the touchpoints and interactions between customers and businesses.

Customer Identity Management the missing link

What is the missing link then to creating a Customer Experience that spans all the properties? Oh, sorry, the heading gave it away. Customer Identity Management is the key, if you ask us, to creating that web around all of a business’ properties and aggregating data from these into one centralized location turning out a single customer view of each customer which is again the key to a complete Customer Experience.

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