The Mobile Gap

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At what point, do we surrender to reality?

In the past few months, way too many brands have been speaking out of both sides of their mouth. One side says this: Native apps are expensive and don’t get enough downloads to justify the expense, plus it’s super-expensive because you have to develop for Apple, Android, Windows, BlackBerry, etc… The other side says this: We live in a mobile world, this is how consumers, primarily, connect with us, so we’re in the process of developing a responsive Web experience, and looking at how we can shift some of the dollars over to mobile marketing. It’s all so expensive and time consuming.

Ugh… seriously… this is what’s what?

How many brands do you – as a consumer (not a marketing professional) – connect with on your mobile device? Personally (and, yes, this is a Market of One story) I do this all of the time. From reservations, to store hours, to looking for a product/service and more. Before I’m interested/buying anything, I’m on my iPhone doing some form of brand reconnaissance. With that comes eye squinting, finger pinching, redirections, page errors and – more often than not – a “less than” Web experience.

And, that’s the thing: Mobile should never be a “less than” Web experience.

As a business leader, feel free to get as excited as you want about programmatic, big data, machine learning, drones, marketing automation and more. It’s fine to love the latest and greatest shiny objects, or get that squirrel-like distraction thing going on. With that, take a serious look at how your brand is represented on a mobile device. Consumers have moved on. They understand (and love) the user experience of things like Uber, Tinder and Snapchat. They’re used to these places, where the mobile experience is more interesting, engaging and connected than the Web experience. And… then come the brands. The experiences are limited, responsive… but limited. They’re just not that good. Sadly.

This is the mobile gap.

There’s no doubt that it won’t be easy to get a consumer to find and download a brand app in the app store. Still… here we are. What will it take for brands to bridge this gap? This will be the biggest shift that brands are going to face over the next few years. How will they develop and execute on a mobile experience that not only fits the expectations of consumers (and the company’s shareholders), but also makes it worthwhile for the consumer? It’s not easy, but what options are left? Do we continue to invest in our web-bowser based infrastructure, and stick our collective heads into the sand, when it comes to where our consumers are really spending all of their time? It’s easy to talk about what’s next, but what brands are really doing what’s now?

It’s easy to talk about this mobile gap, but it’s here… and most brand are stuck in it.