Signs of the dominance of “all things mobile” were first noticed in 2014 when more people were using their devices than their PCs to access the Internet. Just from 2016 to 2017 alone, time spent on mobile devices has jumped by seven minutes. Today, the average person is spending anywhere from 3–6 hours each day on their mobile devices. Meanwhile, time spent watching TV and using desktop computers has continued to decline. What this means for businesses heading into 2018 is a need to make whatever their products are easily accessible via mobile platforms. Need more incentive to embrace mobile? Keep reading to see why mobile will be a must for all businesses in 2018.
It’s an On-the-Go World
A national survey of nearly 700 smartphone and tablet users from Phunware suggests it’s an even more on-the-go world than many businesses may realize. Understanding how people use their devices in greater detail can help companies know how to better connect with customers. For starters, nearly 70 percent of digital media time involves mobile devices, and users spend a lot of their time (almost 90 percent) in various apps. In fact, consumers today spend more time in apps than they do watching TV.
Customers Are Attached to Their Devices
People are more dependent on their smartphones and tablets than ever before. And it’s more than just a casual thing. The majority of mobile users would rather have access to their device than their wallet. And the use of such devices isn’t only limited to places where you would assume phones and tablets would be used. More than 60 percent of respondents have used their device while in the restroom. Some people prefer to stay connected while on a date or at the doctor’s office while others have their device handy while in the shower and during other personal moments.
Device Users Are Likely within Your Target Demographics
According to data compiled by Pew Research Center, nearly 80 percent of U.S. adults own a smartphone. Such devices are more likely to be held by younger people, with more than 90 percent of owners being 18- to 29-year-olds. Even if this isn’t your target audience, ownership within other age groups is also on the rise. Just from 2013 to 2016, smartphone ownership among adults 65 and older jumped from 18 to 42 percent.
People Love to Shop with Their Phone
Okay, here are some stats you’ll want to pay attention to if you’re a business owner. Pew reports that about half of all adults in the U.S. use their phone to make purchases. Customers are also using their phones while physically in stores to make purchases. Nearly 60 percent of U.S. adults say they have called or texted someone while in a store to get an instant opinion on a possible purchase. Forty-five percent of smartphone users also grab their phone while in stores to check reviews online and compare prices. Some mobile-savvy business owners are already taking advantage of habits like these by:
• Using geo-targeting to reach customers physically within their area
• Encouraging customers to do social check-ins when coming into their store by offering special deals and other perks
• Reaching out to customers via their devices in store with personalized messages added incentives to make a purchase
Mobile Users Are Chronic Multi-taskers
Most mobile users like to have access to a variety of apps for different purposes. The average mobile user has 17 apps on their phone and a dozen apps on their tablet in addition to those that come standard. It means you may have an opportunity to offer a solution to one or more common consumer pain points by reaching out to your audience with a useful, engaging application they won’t mind adding to their app collection. Mobile users frequently utilize apps related to:
• Social media (Facebook and YouTube are most used)
• Media (primarily news-related apps)
• Entertainment (Pandora Radio, iTunes, and Netflix are among the most used)
• Utilization (weather, banking, etc.)
• Shopping (Amazon, eBay, and Walmart are the leaders here)
Mobile App Users Want Convenience and Usability
It’s no surprise that apps that are free are more likely to be preferred by users. However, user-friendliness is also a big motivator. Users also prefer apps that are fast and easy to download and ones that have unique features not offered by other apps. If you’re thinking about producing an app as a way to keep customers engaged, just make sure you’re not giving them a reason to delete it. The most common causes app users hit “delete” include:
• Lack of usefulness
• Too many ads (moderation is the key with any intrusion into a person’s app time)
• Poor user experience
• Lack of use
People Want to Do Even More Stuff On Their Devices
One of the most compelling reasons for businesses to make mobile still a priority in 2018 is the fact that people are looking for more reasons to use their devices. Already, nearly 70 percent of users get their news from their phones or tablets. In the future, mobile users have shown an interest in using their devices to book medical appointments, participate in jury duty, and even vote. These preferences suggest a desire to do as many activities and actions as possible with easily accessible, handheld technology.
Customers Want Personal Interactions
More than half of all consumers expect brands to know what they expect. Most consumers have also said they would willingly share even more personal information to personalize their brand experiences further. Multiple surveys are suggesting that consumers today want even more personal interactions than what’s available now. The great thing about mobile communications is that any business, no matter how big or small it may be, can reach out to on-the-go consumers in some way. According to a survey of a thousand U.S. consumers, motivations to share personal info include:
• Receiving more interest-specific content
• Access to promotions and discounts
• Expedited customer service
• Reduced exposure to irrelevant ads
Google Says Mobile Is King
Okay, here’s a big reason to shift your focus to mobile in 2018. Not doing so could affect your online visibility. Google plans a full implementation of their mobile-first policy sometime in 2018. First announced in 2015 and initially planned for a full rollout in early 2016, mobile-first refers to a change in the way Google indexes websites. For ranking, Google plans to gauge a website’s usability and relevance based on how it’s viewed on a mobile device. The reason for the adjustment is because Google tended to go with trends, especially anything involved with the way people find stuff online. While Google says the change won’t be too major (although they did confirm the rollout of a mobile intrusive interstitial penalty in January of 2017), it does provide an added incentive to make your content more accessible to mobile users. One way to accomplish this goal is with a responsive website that’s adaptable to any screen being used. You can also prepare your business for the mobile shift by:
• Eliminating content clutter on web pages
• Leaving space around clickable/tappable icons
• Appropriately sizing images
• Watching page load times (anything longer than 2–3 seconds is considered “slow” for most mobile visitors)
Increased mobile dependence also means there are more mobile-related trends on the horizon. The virtual reality, for instance, is expected to be even bigger in 2018. If you’ve ever had anyone hovering around your business looking for a Pokemon, then you’re familiar with VR — the placement of non-real objects in actual environments. Google is already moving in this direction with the development of a virtual reality Android-based operating system. More apps with augmented reality capabilities are also finding their way to the App Store, and VR devices are becoming more accessible. With mobile ads, there’s a shift towards native advertising — the display of advertisements similar to whatever content is being viewed. Realistically, not every mobile trend is going to be right for your business. But all of this mobile dominance does stress the importance of paying attention to the ways customers seek information and stay connected to your brand.