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5 ways to encourage a mobile-first culture

5 ways to encourage a mobile-first culture Robert Manning

We're all increasingly inundated with information about mobile-first design, and one only has to review global subscriber statistics or marvel at the natural dexterity children have with devices to understand "mobile-first" will soon be obsolete, as all communications and digital interactions are becoming inherently mobilized.

What's surprising is that the IAB discovered that nearly half of all Fortune 500 corporate websites are still not optimized for mobile. While it may appear obvious that mobile is the first screen we need to design for, there are always those organizations that are slower on the uptake. Before we think about mobile-first design, we must pursue a mobile-first culture.

Our first instinct for mobile-first design tells us to understand the business challenge we're trying to solve -- how a particular program will add value to our customers, and why a particular solution should be oriented for mobile versus PC. One can view mobile across the consumer lifecycle and reasonably port mobile solutions to drive awareness, close a purchase, drive effective usage, and even activate the fan base.

While focusing on your business strategy and customer needs is a good place to start from, there are other ways to develop a mobile-first culture that socializes these capabilities throughout the broader organization. Here are five ways to improve your strategy.

Re-evaluate old tendencies

Many organizations are resting on old tendencies such as building bloated, stand-alone websites, rather than developing useful content and delivering it across a variety of platforms simultaneously. With the proliferation of digital touchpoints, it's more important than ever to re-examine how we're delivering value based on prevailing consumer behavior.


Because mobile is increasingly becoming the domain of cross-functional teams, many organizations need a steering committee that sets the organizational vision for mobile, prioritizes projects, assesses partnerships, and establishes KPIs. Media mix modeling can provide tighter attribution to understand which investments drive the best ROI in mobile and other digital and traditional channels.

Foundational excellence

Sometimes it's best to concentrate on just a few well-executed strategies. A laser focus on fundamentals would start with foundational activities such as mobile site development and SMS, while creating roadmaps for apps that offer the most utility to end users.

The mobile web and the mobile apps space need to coexist, as one offers greater reach, where the other offers greater functionality. As more people start their Zero Moment of Truth (ZMOT) search with a mobile device, it's increasingly important to be found via mobile search, as we can usually spend less for a higher CTR.

Test-and-learn roadmap

Along with creating foundational standards, it's important to make a few educated guesses based on consumer insights and then develop a test-and-learn roadmap. Look for untested but high reward projects, in addition to safer bets, and evaluate opportunities based on strategic impact, consumer need, and the organization's ability to execute.

This approach is very similar to Coke's 70/20/10 rule -- lay foundations, innovate on top of what works, and invest in new ideas and approaches.

While it's possible to survive on driving parity through executional excellence, a perpetual beta culture is instrumental to stay relevant in emerging technologies and to derive insights within the emerging markets where business growth is increasingly coming from.

Share early and often

In most companies today, with digital becoming so ingrained in all aspects of the business, there is a groundswell of training programs, with mobile becoming a core competency for digital teams and eventually the organization as a whole.

With so much more to learn, it's critical to develop a culture of sharing best practices and tapping into expertise that exists in various functional areas and around the world. It's one thing to share best practices post-launch, but in this rapid prototype world we live in, we must develop systems to share best practices in real-time, so others can gain immediate takeaways.

It's also important to look beyond your category to gain outside perspectives, and to leverage partnerships that can enable learning, testing, and scale. There are great resources out there to explore.

I would love to learn more about how others are working toward a mobile-first culture. Please share in the comments field below.

Robert Manning is the global director, digital excellence for Johnson & Johnson Vision Care.

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"Businesswoman texting" image via Shutterstock.

Robert is the Global Director, Digital Excellence for Johnson & Johnson Vision Care where his responsibilities include driving the development of a global digital marketing strategy and supporting international regions in developing superior B2C...

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