By Felix Erken, Managing Director and Co-owner of Junk Mail Digital Media
For many businesses that haven’t taken the plunge to move from web to mobile this transition is imminent and with more wearable devices like the Apple Watch landing locally soon, timing can be everything.
South Africa is considered a mature market in terms of mobile subscribers and voice usage with 1.5 SIMs for every person in the country according to IDC telecoms analyst George Kalebaila. Smartphone penetration is predicted to increase year-on-year and future mobile growth will be fuelled by the evolving digital needs of users.
As a business owner who initially went through the print to online transition and later made the move from web to mobile a key learning has been to take note of the hype, but not to prematurely end a platform that remains relevant.
The mobile transition doesn’t happen overnight and a mobile user’s requirements, expectations and behaviour differs from that of a web user. It’s important to lead the charge from the front to transform staff’s mindsets to that of mobile. The senior leadership team has to initiate the first push and set the example.
Understanding what users are looking for when engaging with mobile platforms is key as this will enable the fulfilment of their needs. Consider offering new and more relevant functionality to mobile users than what the web platform is able to provide.
Businesses still contemplating the channel move need to realise that mobile is fast becoming the only screen. Although smartphone penetration is around 30% locally, Kalebaila predicts that it’ll grow as more affordable smartphones become available. In fact, feature phones may be obsolete by 2020 and smartphones are set to be used for much more than browsing, shopping and entertainment.
Mobile has the power to improve efficiency through convenience and mass reach. It allows businesses to influence new users through an extra channel that they weren’t necessarily able to reach through web or print. It also has a far more attentive user, which means brands can implement impactful marketing to a huge audience at a low cost.
Companies may find that their mobile user becomes their dominant user. Mobile site traffic for classified platforms increases year-on-year and is overtaking web traffic. A key strategy for classified advertising portals continues to be the improvement of the user’s experience of the platform. If the mobile user overtakes the web user the digital strategy has to prioritise mobile and the intent of the user searching on a mobile device.
With pre-orders for the Apple Watch now open, business leaders shouldn’t underestimate the impact of smart and wearable devices on their brands. Mobile has disrupted the ride-sharing industry and the healthcare, financial and automotive industries are next. Applications allowing users to monitor and measure their health are set to disrupt the healthcare industry as patients will now be able to take ownership of their wellbeing.
Some exciting tangible applications will be made possible with wearable devices. User engagement with devices will increase exponentially and brands will have the opportunity to offer their customers powerful features by being mobile.