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What marketers risk by not taking a mobile-first approach

Marketers need to understand that mobile is no longer a nice-to-have and, while companies such as Gilt Groupe and Disney are seeing success thanks to their mobile-first approach, a majority of companies have yet to adopt the same mentality and are missing out on a big opportunity.

Creating a mobile-first powerhouse will separate the leaders from the followers. Although the medium is still relatively new, marketers need to move past the testing stages and think beyond what their competitors are doing.

?A mobile device is accessible and in everyone's hands,? said Norm Levy, founder of ShoutOmatic. ?Mobile offers the holy grail for advertisers allowing for a two-way dialogue with prospects and customers.

?The day of push advertising is old-school and mobile allows for pull in the most creative, fun, current and relevant manner possible,? he said. ?Advertisers realize the need to be current and relevant in the eyes of their customers. 

?Advertisers can be joined-at-the-hip with their prospects and customers if they exploit a mobile-first strategy.?

Thinking mobile-first
It is important for marketers to take a mobile-first approach, not only to raise brand awareness, but also to be where consumers are.

"Marketers should take a sell-more-stuff approach,? said Jeff Hasen, chief marketing officer of Hipcricket, New York. ?There are often times where mobile should be the lead given a brand target's behavior and interest.

?But other times that is not the case,? he said. ?Everything has changed and nothing has changed ? it's about selling products and services ? and using the medium or mediums that are most likely to succeed.

?You need to know your customer ? that was true 50 years ago and will be true in 50 more years.?

Gilt Groupe and Disney are good examples of companies that do mobile-first correctly.

Disney recently took a page out from the Angry Birds playbook by introducing a line of licensed merchandise based on a mobile-first brand, the game Where?s My Water?

Additionally, Gilt Groupe has increasingly been raising the bar and continuing to build its mobile-first powerhouse.

The company has not only put a big focus on its mobile apps, but is also continually offering mobile-only deals such as access to presale events to its members.

?I'm the last one to hype mobile, but I'll still say that some marketers are behind on mobile,? Mr. Hasen said.

?Ford drove a 15.4 percent lead conversion by adding a mobile component to traditional media,? he said. ?A local car dealer sold 34 cars in one day after not selling one in a month ? simply by having a mobile call to action added to an advertisement on the radio.

"Some consumers are punishing brands that don't deliver a positive mobile experience. Mobile is no longer a nice to have."

Simply necessary
Currently, there are still many marketers out there that do not realize the potential of mobile.

Most marketers are so inundated with the old school way of doing things that they are simply set in their ways.

However, companies need to look beyond that.

?Every marketer should take out their marketing calendar for the year, and simply go through and add a mobile-first touch point to each and every one of the items on the calendar,? said Marci Troutman, CEO of SiteMinis, Atlanta.

?Make sure with a mobile-first strategy that you are where your consumers are ? on their devices,? she said. 

?What they need to realize is, that there are quite a few companies that are able to help them push that boulder uphill quite a bit faster if they would just take a minute to engage with the experts that have been in the space for over 10 years and know what to move and shake to ensure a mobile-first strategy is implemented to ensure they won?t be losing their consumer base to their competitors.?

According to Simon Buckingham, CEO of Appitalism, taking a mobile-first approach really depends on the brand and campaign.

"I don't think there is a single media or a universal rule that meets all objectives perfectly," Mr. Buckingham said.

"The smallest screen is becoming the largest screen in terms of usage and engagement but this process will take a long time to come to fruition," he said. "Designing for mobile first has the advantage of helping to clarify your campaign thoughts and objectives since small screens and busy users on mobile devices help to crystallize the campaign's objectives and messaging.

"Smartphone and app usage has grown quickly exponentially and inevitably some marketers may have been taken by surprise at the speed of adoption of mobile devices." 

Final Take
Rimma Kats is associate editor on Mobile Marketer, New York