Consumers are keeping up with the technology so why are we giving them meaningless mobile experiences?

Businesses are losing customers because they are too lazy to give them what they want, argues Luke Harvey-Palmer

Australians now rank a staggering second in the world for smartphone ownership. So for those with the responsibility for communicating with customers, mobile strategy has moved from an afterthought to one, if not the, most important channels to market.

But whilst technology and content are fundamental to mobile success it’s making the service useful and attractive that really matters.

I’m finding it hard to understand why so many businesses keep churning out meaningless mobile experiences and making no effort to understand the customer, their needs and desires.

Consumers are working hard to keep up with the rapid shifts in technology, and they’re quick to shout their experiences out to the social media sphere.

Yet so many businesses keep missing the point. It’s this simple: if you give customers a bad mobile experience, you’ll lose them.

We’re seeing it again and again; the brands that thrive in mobile technology are those with beautiful, simple and intuitive offerings.

I’ve always been a huge fan of Apple. It deserves its place as the most valuable company in the world because it is fuelled by an obsession with excellence, customer experience and simplicity of design.

And, even better I say, that this standard of excellence has been set as the new benchmark in the tech space.

As marketers we know that customers have finely-tuned radars for quality, so if you join the mobile tech sphere and produce an app that’s not top-notch and easy-to-use, then you’ll just be joining those 40,000 apps on iTunes that have never been downloaded.

The latest round of figures from Google tells us that 40 per cent of shopping-related Google searches now come from mobile devices and the number of queries coming from smartphones and tablets has doubled in the past 12 months.

Another report forecasts that by 2015, m-commerce will reach $119 billion worldwide. But if you don’t focus on simplicity and customer engagement, there’s not much point in making the investment.

We’ve seen that customers have no patience for offerings that complicate their lives or waste their time. The Click Frenzy backlash provides a timely example of how quickly and vehemently consumers will protest against an online platform that frustrates them.

This is a story that keeps being retold. Research in IT Wire in November this year showed that Google copped 8 million less searches a day after it introduced an extra 400 milliseconds into its search process, and that Amazon can lose as much as A$1.6 billion a day in sales revenue with a one second delay in its transaction time.

At the same time, by moving from HTML5 to native applications, Facebook has acknowledged that even one of the most popular web destinations in the world can get it wrong. What users really care about is the best and easiest way to access the cool stuff, content.

When these microscopic delays turn paying customers away, where do you think their attention turns to?

With the swipe of a finger, they’ll rush to those businesses that understand their needs, have listened to what they’ve asked for, and have responded with a simple, fast and beautiful solution.

Not only can you not afford not to know what your people are doing on their mobile devices, you’re insulting your customers if you don’t take the time to find out.

The mobile revolution heralds exciting opportunities for business: just make sure you get it right.

  • Luke Harvey-Palmer is CEO of mobile developer Alive


  1. Remer
    12 Dec 12
    12:22 pm

  2. I refuse to use a mobile website if it doesn’t have the full capabilities of the normal website. Same with apps. And if there’s no “Full Website/Desktop Website” link then you can forget about it. Why should I not get a full experience if I’m using a mobile phone? Most the time mobile websites are too simple for their own good.

  3. GC
    12 Dec 12
    1:20 pm

  4. right on @remer there is nothing more infuriating than a mobile site that wont let you do stuff and no option to ditch it and return to the full site.

  5. Just sayin...
    12 Dec 12
    1:22 pm

  6. @Remer Portable media does not require all the features of a fixed site, also I suggest you invest in a Smartphone maybe.

    A lot of agencies do not have the Mobile talent needed that understands Mobile Tech. Consumers are an audience transitioning from a Point & Click to Swipe & Tap world, with data in the cloud not on your Web server.

  7. David Hayes
    12 Dec 12
    1:43 pm

  8. Media has basically ignored mobile, yes they get entranced by Twitter and various other mobile applications, but they have no idea how to commercialise the mobile. What really surprises me is that they aggressively promote interaction via Twitter yet fail to appreciate that Twitter is now a media giant, and due to the media’s blind promotional obsession, advertisers are now flocking to Twitter, advertisers that should be on TV. Wake up media learn how to make money out of mobile. Review your databases and investigate how large or small it really is and what permission status, then talk to some real people in the business. I do however support many of the points raised by Luke he is clearly as frustrated as I am about our media geniuses. David

  9. Anonymous
    12 Dec 12
    1:48 pm

  10. Agree Remer. Whilst we’re at it, can we make sure that the Mobile Site / Desktop Site thing is sorted out? If your mobile version doesn’t include everything, then I’ll choose Desktop, if I can and if the server will let me – what happens more often than not is there’s a redirect back to the mobile site. UGH.

  11. David Hayes
    12 Dec 12
    3:21 pm

  12. Like the comments – most agencies sub out to expensive mobile applications builders that grossly over engineer what is in reality a basic interaction. We use SMS extensively with great success. An inbound SMS returns a specific targeted mobile web site that renders cognisant of mobile handset make and model is extremely efficient and very cost effective. But agencies like to charge enormous fees for great looking apps that frankly do very little to enhance brands or more specifically generate track able sales.

  13. Paul Eveleigh
    14 Dec 12
    10:09 am

  14. Who cares what screen you advertise on? Just make a strong offer.