Mobile phones are more popular than toothbrushes

According to the Mobile Marketing Association, of the 7 billion people on the planet, 4.8 billion own a mobile phone, whereas only 4.1 billion own a toothbrush.

This dramatic rise in the popularity and use of the mobile phone is brought into perspective in research carried out by Nielsen. It reveals that growth of the iPhone was ten times faster than that of America Online. Furthermore, in a survey by Morgan Stanley, mobile dependency is highlighted in the fact that 91% of people who own a mobile have it within arms reach 24/7.

It doesn’t seem that long ago when my mobile phone looked and felt more like a clunky brick than a designer accessory. It had an aerial longer than that on my car.

Its only function was to make very expensive phone calls. How things have changed. The need for immediacy and utility in mobile use has led to greater sophistication in the design of devices, developing more of the functionality of computers. Mobile phones are now just as much an expression of individuality than clothes, with the iPhone being the “must have” accessory. They may not be the best as phones but they are great at all their other functions.

Mobile Phone – Usability differences

There are clear differences in usability between different types of mobile phones. Touch screens, such as that on the iPhone, offer the best experience, followed by Smartphones, while regular phones, which make up the majority, offer the poorest mobile internet experience for users. The key to success is to work out the audience for your website before you decide which phones to optimise for. In the case of FT.com, it had a high percentage of users with Blackberries and iPhones, so the site is aimed at these devices, while an excellent iPhone app has also been released.

For other sites, a one-size fits all policy may be best, to provide the best user experience for as wide an audience as possible.

There are four main problems with mobile usability:

  1. Small screens. Obvious really, but small screens mean that there are fewer visible options, making interactions on mobiles much more difficult.
  2. Difficulty of data input. As with small screens, a small keyboard makes it harder to type, to scroll up and down web pages, and increases the possibility that mistakes will be made by users (in my experience, frequently with the tiny keys on my Blackberry).
  3. Slow download times. Variable connection speeds and quality means that loading up web pages can take a long time.
  4. Sites not designed for mobiles. Since most websites are designed for desktop users, they can be harder to use on a mobile.

The solution to these problems is to design pages and sites especially for mobile users, and hope they are accessing them with touch screen devices and Smartphones. Two good examples of mobile websites are Amazon and FT.com.

Both have been optimised for mobile use, providing a usable site by stripping out some of the functionality of the main websites, and, in Amazon’s case, streamlining the product search and checkout process.

Mobile phone – Key tool for modern living

In the 2011 Mobile Search Insights Study, the mobile device emerges as a key tool in modern living, whether you use it to purchase goods from Amazon, catch up with the financial state of the world through the FT, stay in touch with your business activity or keep up to speed with your social life. Just look at the number of people interacting with their mobile device in the street, on trains, in cafes and bars. It is clear that the vast majority of us are hooked on mobile communication and brand dialogue. That is why it is important to make content easy to read and to navigate.

Understanding consumer interaction with mobile sites is a challenging new dimension for brand companies. In the Insights Study there is clear evidence that the insatiable inquisitiveness of people is increasingly satisfied through mobile search: the study shows that people with mobile phones interact with brands occasionally or frequently to find a wide variety of buying related information:

  • 84% search for local retailer information and 82% find online retailers.
  • 73% find a specific manufacturer or product website.
  • 71% learn about a product or service after seeing an ad.
  • 68% find the best price for a product or service.

Mobile ubiquity

According to a research study conducted by BIA/ Kelsey Group, once searchers on a smartphone find a local business, 61% call the establishment and 59% visit the location. That is incredible effectiveness.

The most popular purchases via mobile phones are in the entertainment category (32%) followed by Apparel (31%), electronics (25%), travel (22%), and consumer packaged goods (20%). Other findings from the 2011 Mobile Search Insights Study show that more than half (57%) of surveyed mobile searchers use the mobile web more than once a day and embrace mobile search in many areas of their lives, most interestingly at home in the evening (81%), and over the weekend (80%). Three-quarters of mobile searchers use mobile search occasionally or frequently whilst running errands. See chart below.

  • 59% of mobile searchers use mobile search before going to work and 61% use it whilst at work. Dual tasking is also popular, using mobile search whilst watching TV or using the computer. So it is no surprise to find that satisfaction amongst mobile searchers is high. Mobile has changed the way searchers gather information:
  • 75% say mobile makes their lives easier.
  • 63% say access to mobile search has changed the way they gather information.
  • 32% say they use mobile search more than search via computer.

Mobile phone – Fast and efficient dialogue

In a busy interconnected world, where it seems that every second counts, mobile is popular because it is convenient and, in the right conditions, fast. With personalization of search being implemented, mobile becomes an even more important tool for search and social media. What better tool to create a fast and efficient dialogue with your customer, anytime, anywhere.

At Intelligent Positioning we have the proprietary tools and consulting skills to enable your brand to create a faster, deeper dialogue with your customers and consumers, ensuring that you have the right mobile strategy, site design, content, and navigational ease. What’s more we ensure that your mobile is a seamless part of your other marketing communications. Making your mobile communication simple will mean making it more effective.