An Open Letter To Brands: Be Mobile-First. Now.

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Dear Brand Leaders,

The time has come.

I’ve been patient. Your consumers have been patient. Enough is enough. The discrepancy between what I see when I engage with a brand “out in the wild” (meaning, when I shop, search and try to inform myself) verses what I see when brand leaders get up on stage to talk up the marvellous marketing initiatives that they are engaged with during an industry event, could not be further apart. In short, your mobile experience is lacking (at best) and pretty sucky (on average). 

“Don’t worry! Most consumers don’t use us on their mobile devices!”

Give it up. You can back these statements up with as much data and analytics as you like, but sticking to this based on your vanity metrics is putting you on the wrong side of history. I could have been shopping for a laptop case. I could have been shopping for a car. The results are always the same: if I really want to dig in and get the information that I need, I’ve had to switch over to my laptop. Always. Do you think the same could be said for your consumer’s Instagram, Uber, Snapchat and Twitter experiences? What about Tinder?

Yes. Tinder. Think about it…

If your consumer can find someone to mate with by simply swiping right, how frustrated do you think they’re going to be while trying to find out the information that they want about your brand and services – as they scroll, tap and pinch to find what they want? One tap and a car will show up at their front door and yet, your mobile car configurator is one big confusing mess. Claiming that your brand’s experience is fully responsive isn’t even tablestakes anymore. The fact that your consumers view mostly everything on a mobile device, doesn’t mean that they engage with the brand with the same functionality that mobile engenders. This causes frustration. Across the board.

Mobile and brands have not reached the tipping point yet.

The data is not working in your favor. Just this week, eMarketer released updated estimates about US digital users. The results? More than eight in ten internet users will use a mobile phone to access the web regularly in 2017. What does this really mean? 

“…there will be just 17.9 million desktop/laptop-only internet users in the US this year, down from 20.3 million in 2016. And the number is expected to edge lower in the future… The number of mobile-only users is on the rise, totaling 40.7 million this year, up from 36.6 million in 2016… The number of these mobile-only users will see steady growth over the next few years, reaching 52.3 million in 2021.”

Brands, you had one job. Brands, you have one job.

It’s not too late. Make the move. Get aggressive. As we continue to question when was “the year of mobile”? We can all agree that the year of business mobile is right now – 2017. What more do you need to make this happen? How hard would it be for you to rethink what your brand means – not just in a digital world, but a mobile-first world? Your customers are – quite frankly – begging for it… and they’re ready for it. Think about it this way: perhaps you are not feeling the impact as dramatically, because your mobile experience is so bad, that your consumers are not even bothering. So as you view your growing desktop usage, it could be fooling you into thinking that this is where the growth or current population truly lies. The truth is simply that you are letting consumers down where they want you the most.

We won’t get fooled again.

It’s not just one data source either. Here are some other key leading indicators that all brands need to focus on:

That’s not all. You know that there is much more data on the subject. Just Google it.

So, what’s it really going to take? Brands were so slow to adopt the Internet. Many are still trying to pull together a decent web experience. Many still grapple with ecommerce. Many have yet to embrace social media. Brands don’t have to continue on this path. The opportunity is now.

Don’t make the same mistake again. Please.


Mitch Joel… a loving and passionate marketing nerd.