October 2013

I recently did some research with my peers into mobile coupons.  With the number of people who use smart phones growing, it is a topic that is rapidly becoming not only relevant, but essential in the vocabulary of an ad or marketing agency.  Most people are not only browsing the web, but also shopping on their phones. This makes for an interesting opportunity for marketers – from mobile sites to mobile coupons, there are a myriad of ways to connect with the customer via their phone.

Originally, I personally assumed that people would be wary of mobile coupons – wary enough to be reluctant to use them, as they often collect personal information.  But after interviewing a small sampling of consumers, my peers and I found that people are actually more open to the idea of coupons on their mobile phone than expected.

One of the keys to getting a customers interest is giving them the option to opt in. Consumers want to choose whether or not they get coupons on their phone. A good example of this would be the Express mobile app – when it first came out, you could open the app in the store to receive a coupon. The consumer consented to this by downloading the app, and opening it in the store.  Pushing data without having been given the choice to opt in seems to be unnerving to the consumer.

Keeping your coupon offerings relevant to what they want or need is also an important aspect of mobile couponing. If the coupons are irrelevant, they become spam to the consumer – something especially intrusive on a phone. Imagine waiting for an important text message, only to receive multiple spam messages from stores – it has the potential to get irritating if not kept in check.

People are more open to mobile coupons if the savings is significant, as well.  They might not be willing to opt in for something inexpensive, like a few cents off a coffee – but for more significant savings such as savings on a house or a car, people are more open to signing up for a mobile coupon.

Overall, mobile marketing has the potential to grow in a big way if handled correctly.  It is definitely something to take into consideration when creating a marketing plan.

Responsive design is a hot topic in the web world these days.  As more and more users are accessing the internet on a variety of platforms, it is becoming essential that companies keep up with them. I was recently asked to do a presentation on responsive design, and I thought I would share that knowledge with you here.

So what is responsive design?

Responsive design is designing a website that adapts to the user’s environment using media queries. This includes everything from mobile phones to tablets to different sizes of desktop screens.  Unlike regular websites, which show up the same on every platform, layouts and design elements change depending on the platform you are using to better serve the user’s experience. This may mean condensing the navigation and changing the size of the images, among other things.

Most of the time, when we design for a responsive site, we design with 3-4 sizes in mind.  Full computer screen, tablet vertical, tablet horizontal, iPhone and Android are some of the common considerations. Many testing labs have been established for those who don’t have access to all of these devices when checking their site. There is also software that lets you simulate the experience.

Is responsive design just a new, cool look?

Not at all – responsive design is about functionality and ease of use. Good designers take into account the user experience depending on the platform.  This would mean larger buttons for ease of use on a mobile device, as well as thinking about how to streamline the purchasing process on a phone or tablet. The less clicks, the better.

Why should you care?

Mobile and tablet use is exploding – growing exponentially all the time. We can’t design solely for desktop any longer and expect users to accept that.  From a marketing perspective, I was told at An Event Apart DC that conversion rates on mobile are actually higher when sites are responsive.  Google also takes into account whether or not your site is responsive for search ranking.

Is it just for designers?

No!  Repsonsive design is slowly becoming mainstream.  it has been adopting by the Johns Hopkins Carey Business School, the Boston Globe newspaper and even Starbucks. These companies care about the customer experience – and responsive design improves that experience.

Though it takes longer and is more expensive to build a responsive site, the investment is worth it. It is becoming a consumer expectation that will not be ignored.