Posted by Teri Sun

On your way home from work, you stop at the store to pick up some more milk. As you’re walking back to your car, reflexively your iPhone appears in your hand and you swipe through a pile of emails. A clever subject line catches your attention. But what’s this? Who could possibly read this mouse type email content?! You fumble the milk as you try to pinch the screen, almost walking into another car leaving the parking lot. Forget this! You’re at your car and delete the message before you ever had a chance to see what it said.

In a world where more people own cell phones than toothbrushes, creating mobile friendly experiences isn’t just good practice, it’s common courtesy.

But cramming a desktop website into 1/3 of the space and calling it “mobile friendly” is a temporary breath mint. To address the complexities of mobile marketing head-on, you need to fundamentally shift your thinking to “Mobile First.”

Step 1: Clean up your content

Start by considering the context in which you’re asking your audience to engage with content. Would you read an entire 12-page whitepaper on an iPhone?

A recent Harris Interactive Study revealed that, while 46% of smartphone owners use their device for work purposes, 90% are using their own personal (non-company issued) device. If you’re a B2B company, that means that your email isn’t fighting for attention among your competitors, you’re up against all the Groupon deals, Facebook status notifications, and the latest sale.

With video streaming taking up 39% of all mobile traffic, it's a natural way to break through the mobile clutter. But if you’re short on budget to create new content, try turning that 12-page whitepaper into an infographic or podcast. And don’t forget to flex your B2Me muscle and lead with some emotional storytelling.

Step 2: Keep up your web appearance

After you’ve put your content strategy through the Mobile First filter, it’s time to think about design.

You may argue that, maintaining a separate desktop and mobile website experience is expensive. And, when 70% of people will delete an email right away if it doesn’t display correctly, all that effort could be wasted if your emails are not mobile optimized.

Luckily, the invention of grid-based responsive design means you can build a single email or website layout that dynamically shifts around based on your audience’s browser size. If you’re reading this from a desktop, give it a whirl on this Harvard Business Review microsite we built for SAP. Simply adjust your browser size to about the size of a tablet and then to a smartphone. Magic!

While responsive design can be retroactively applied to an existing desktop experience, your best bet is to hold true to the fundamentals of a Mobile First strategy and always start with the mobile experience. Once you’ve identified the ideal layout experience for your on-the-go audience you can easily scale up from there.

If you’ve been feeling that the surge of mobility didn’t give you a chance to stop and think how to approach it, I hope that you’ve now had a chance to take a deep breath and realize that it’s really quite easy. Simply remember that the first thing you should do in the morning is think Mobile First…no, scratch that. Brush your teeth! No one wants to hear about your Mobile First strategy if you smell like last night’s garlic-delight.

Topics: Technology, Strategy