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The mobile consumptive experience: on-the-go, impulsive and fully-optimized

November 13, 2009

During my tenure at Sprint as GM of Sprint TV, I spoke regularly of “the mobile consumptive experience” (MCE for short). I used this phrase to get the big TV brands to understand that watching TV on a mobile phone was different in a lot of ways than watching it on your 46” Sony Bravia or even on your PC.

The idea of the MCE centers on the fact that just because you dominate your field in one medium does not mean you will dominate that same field when you move to another medium even though they seem very close. I guess the best way to sum this up is to offer this piece of guidance-the mobile internet is not the PC internet.

I know this sounds simple but I’ve seen figures showing that less than 1% of PC internet sites render properly on a cell phone. Certainly this is helped by phones having full HTML browsers but those pages are slow to load and clunky to navigate. In other words, PC internet sites don’t fit the MCE.

The MCE differs fromthe PC experience in some key areas.

1. Mobile users are on the go and need information now. PC sites are slow to load and use up the time the mobile user has to find what they are looking for in the first place. PC sites are notorious for their hierarchical depth and asking mobile users to drill-wait-drill-wait is a waste of their time. Web application service provider Gomez reported back in October of this year only half of mobile web users are willing to wait 6-10 seconds for a web page to load and just 1 in 5 is willing to wait more than 20 seconds. Here’s the full article on the Gomez report at FierceMobileContent.

Another way to think of it mirrors how we use mobiles for conversations. They tend to be short bursts of information which is why text messaging is popular. Text messaging also operates on a different channel in cellular networks so they don’t get dropped or have wind noise or take 10 seconds to set up. The same should be said for your web presence on a mobile phone. Put the one thing you want anyone interested in your site would want to know front and center. Don’t bury it in your site as a way to get them to stay one your site. PC sites do this and I don’t like it even on a PC.

2. Mobiles are impulsive devices. The high majority of text messages are opened seconds after they are received. Email-not so much. Email is a decidedly PC experience.

If text messages are how your customer communicates with their friends and colleagues why use email to reach their mobile phone? Text messaging is impulsive and as such if you do get the attention of your customer or target audience, give them the option of learning more about what you have to say so you are not relying on cryptic phrases or truncated words to get the message across. Give them a link to an optimized website so they can learn more if their impulse leads them to.

My favorite example of this is a Discovery Channel text product I signed up for some time ago just to see what they were doing. Some of their text messages would read like this: “Scientists have found evidence of a meteor heading straight for earth. Get Hotmail”

A) I would like to learn more about this and you aren’t offering me a chance to which is a lost opportunity for engagement with me and B) I don’t want HotMail!

3. If you are going to provide a link in your text messages to your customers/audience make sure you don’t frustrate them with a site that won’t render on their phone. Again, from the Gomez report, 40% of customers will go to your competitor’s site if yours frustrates them and fully two-thirds said they would not recommend your site to anyone.

Dale Knoop is the President of Ruxter and an industry-recognized pioneer of mobile data services. In 2005 Dale won an Emmy while serving as the GM for Sprint TV. In August 2009 he launched Ruxter which allows anyone to quickly and easily become part of the rapidly growing mobile internet with a fully optimized mobile website they can share with anyone. You can contact him here. Follow Ruxter on Twitter.

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