As smartphones and tablets become the primary browsing devices for customers, there’s more and more talk about adopting a mobile-first strategy. The only problem is: mobile is channel, not a strategy.

If you want to win with your customers in the digital world, you’ve got to put them first, not the latest device. Mobile-first as a communication strategy just doesn’t cut it in the real world. It’s purely a design concept, it’s an important piece of the puzzle that has to be gotten right, but it’s still only one piece. Yes, you have to be on the mobile channel, in these days of 24hr connectivity and constant mobility that is a given, but you have to be there in the way that your customers want you to be. That means you have to know your customers first.

If the rapid rise of mobile has taught us anything, it’s that when you spend the day riding around in someone’s back pocket, you’d better know more about them than their screen size or whether they’re an iOS or Android fan. Succeeding digitally through the mobile channel isn’t only about the ability to provide portability and immediate access to information, it’s about personalization. Creating an app or mobile site purely with the device in mind is both costly and foolhardy. A recent study from The People’s Web showed, that in April of 2013, on average over 50% of digital traffic comes from a device NOT in the top-ten list of popular devices. That just goes to show how vast the proliferation of devices has become, how difficult it is to design for mobile, and how easy it is to get it wrong for more than half of your customers.

Similarly, a large-scale 2012 study conducted by Google showed that 90% of customers use multiple devices to complete a task. This shows that prioritizing the mobile channel over other digital channels isn’t a winning strategy.
Google - Sequential Browsing
Clearly what is needed is a customer-centric strategy that delivers a seamless experience across multiple devices.

By focusing on your customers and not a specific device, you will be able to create uniquely engaging experiences that win their hearts as well as their business. Don’t build expensive apps for countless devices; create differentiated apps for your customer segments and show them you can meet their needs on any device and across all channels. Identify your customer segments and target them with offerings that they can customize to their individual requirements. The ever widening use of HTML5 and other web-based technologies means that device and channel specific initiatives are not the only choice. Don’t be fooled into adopting a strategy that will put your brand out of reach of your customers. Put your customers firmly at the heart of everything you do and your brand will stay in theirs, and whatever device they’re using this moment or next week.

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