Mobile First Might Not Be BestAs consumer habits evolve, it only makes sense for businesses to amend their marketing and operational strategies to meet them. With so much emphasis on mobile devices like smartphones and tablets, many companies have gone “mobile first”—the process of optimizing websites and developing campaigns based on the mindset that consumers operate primarily on mobile. While this technique certainly has merit, a mobile first only mindset may not be the best choice for all businesses.

The Rise of Mobile First

In May, Google dropped a statistical bombshell that many could see coming: Today, people search more on mobile than they do on desktops. Although many marketers had been doing so already, going mobile first became a mainstream business tactic now backed by a key piece of hard data.

This shift to mobile first was brewing for quite some time before Google released its report, touching the budgets and strategies of many companies. In fact, Google switched algorithms in anticipation of a rise in mobile usage, effectively giving a boost to mobile-friendly pages in a move affectionately referred to by industry professionals as “mobilegeddon.” Today, many businesses have adopted mobile first strategies in an effort to stay competitive.

A Strictly Mobile First Strategy Can Be Bad for Business

A mobile first strategy has substantial merit. After all, today’s consumers are generally a smartphone-carrying, tech-savvy group with the capability (and sometimes penchant, depending on the demographic) to search and make purchases on their mobile devices. Just because they can, though, doesn’t mean they always do. And just because mobile usage has undoubtedly risen, that doesn’t mean consumers have forgotten about their desktops.

IT insight company conScore recently reported that while most digital media consumption growth over the past four years has been, indeed, on smartphones (up 394 percent) and tablets (up 1,721 percent), desktop usage has also gone up 37 percent. That means consumers aren’t only using their smartphones or only using their computers—they’re using both. Adopting a marketing strategy that ignores one half of the duo of ways consumers interact with brands can be a mistake.

One way to determine the relevancy of a mobile strategy within a business is to look at the demographics of its particular consumer base. A key draw to mobile first is that, statistically, more searches are conducted there. That’s true—but knowing what consumers are searching for (and who is doing the looking) is important as well. Many consumers exhibit “reverse showrooming,” comparing items online and subsequently purchasing in-store. Demographically, Pew Research reports that those relying primarily on cell phones for Internet access are young adults and/or those with lower household incomes. It can be inferred, then, that desktop or desktop/mobile users tend to be a bit older and more financially established. This information can be used to project the value of a mobile first strategy for a particular company.

The Takeaway 

It’s fair to say that every business needs a mobile-friendly web presence. Exactly how mobile-friendly, and how much time and budget is spent getting to that point, is case-by-case. Oftentimes, a mobile first strategy works well for enterprise. It is, however, not right for every company. Before blindly going mobile first, businesses should evaluate their markets, understand their consumer demographics and consider the importance of both mobile and desktop devices within their overall strategy.

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