Mobile technology is evolving from a niche consumer engagement channel to the primary means customers utilize the Internet, according to Ian Truscott, VP of Marketing at SDL. Truscott explained how mobile is changing and businesses need to change their strategies with it during “Why Do You Need to do Mobile Now and How Do You Justify It?”, a session at today’s Gilbane Conference in Boston

The Numbers Don’t Lie

Truscott began by citing a number of statistics demonstrating how entrenched mobile technology is becoming in consumers’ everyday lives. Forty-five percent of all consumers use smartphones for in-store product research and monthly mobile Internet penetration reaches 114 million people in the US. And according to a large insurance company that is an SDL client, almost 10% of its Web traffic in 2012 is mobile, up from 1% just one year ago. For B2B companies that think consumer mobile behavior in a store doesn’t matter to them, Truscott reminded them consumers generally visit supplier sites to perform research.

“You need to think about mobile as ubiquitous access to computing,” said Truscott. It’s a not a channel, but the way consumers engage with you.”

Meeting the Mobile Challenge

Several challenges face businesses trying to design an effective mobile consumer strategy, according to Truscott. These include siloing of mobile content across business units, brands and geographies, platform fragmentation and a generally immature mobile solutions market. Although mobile needs to be at the core of any organization’s customer experience management strategy, Truscott said mobile today is generally where Flash was 10 years ago -- “not part of of the core content management capacity but something really cool” -- but is starting to become a more mainstream application.

When deciding how to use mobile technology, Truscott advised companies to consider eight critical questions -- what does the visitor want to do during their mobile engagement, how frequently is the mobile task performed, can the task experience be enhanced by mobile device features, how interactive is the customer experience, what do web analytics tell you, what devices require support, what cross-mobile applications (such as email) will be part of the experience and what is the broader content strategy.

Determining Mobile Metrics

Avery Cohen, Principal at Metrist Partners, discussed metrics marketers should use to measure return on engagement from mobile efforts. “Is your mobile app being used?” he asked. “What features are most popular, what are the benefits to users and constituents, is it growing, how is it being shared?”

Cohen said there is also an important “social aspect” of mobile engagement to consider. “People are on a communication device and expect to able to communicate with other people about what they’re doing,” he said.