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We live in a mobile world where fast moving developments in smartphones, tablets and other devices saw approximately seven billion mobile devices in use by the end of 2013. And with recent research by ComScore revealing that one in three online minutes is now spent beyond the desktop, mobile and tablet devices are moving away from being secondary devices and fast becoming the primary experience, according to Jasper Bell, strategy consultant for Amaze, who here explains why companies not taking mobile seriously are likely to lose ground rapidly . This article is copyright 2015 The Best Customer Guide.

The dramatic shifts we are seeing in behaviours are posing enormous challenges for businesses scrambling to keep up with the pace of change. Amaze has identified four key steps that brands must take for commercial success in today's mobile-driven territory:

  1. Be aware
    Mobile has become the 'remote control' to our lives, influencing how we shop, inform and entertain ourselves and connect with one another. Businesses must understand the changing behaviours and expectations of consumers across their customer bases within the different stages of the purchasing cycle. The consumer mindset is key. This means understanding not only when people shop but where, how and why, as well as what they are buying and how this varies by device, location and category.

    To attribute a commercial value to mobile, businesses must be able to identify how it impacts across the sales lifecycle, from marketing channels, social media and customer care and support. Pinpointing behavioural 'overlaps' within the digital ecosystem, for example, between second screening and pre-shopping and between payments and customer care is the key to unlocking mobile value.

  2. Be optimal
    As the power of mobile 'influence' has quickly overtaken that of mobile 'selling', businesses must make sure that they have the right mobile platform in place, allowing target audiences to engage and use online content and services when and where necessary.

    As well as choosing the right mobile platform for your business, whether a Responsive, Adaptive or Bespoke Mobile website, there are also Apps to consider. Previously assumptions were made about a type of platform being better suited to a business based on its site's content and functionality, however, these distinctions no longer exist. There really is no right or wrong answer; the key is in understanding the target audience and the context within which a mobile platform will be used.

    The ultimate decision about which mobile development path a business should pursue must be built around the 'moment of truth' for the customer. This could be purchasing a train ticket in transit, accessing the latest offer before purchasing in-store or comparing prices before a weekly grocery shop.

  3. Be connected
    The third step is all about businesses recognising the importance of connecting with their target audience at the right time and in the right context. It is crucial to identify the 'moments' and messages that will drive a real value-exchange with the consumer.

    Retailers, for example, have shown some initial resistance to the advent of 'showrooming', with 80% of retailers surveyed (by Edgell Knowledge Network and eBay Local) expecting to see sales reduce by 5% due to the practice. Whilst this opposition is in part due to business readiness, or lack of it, it highlights the importance of responding to customers in real time.

    We've all become 'media multi-taskers', habitually second-screening, 'meshing' (communicating via other devices about a TV programme being watched) and 'stacking' (communicating via other devices about other activities whilst watching TV).

    These 'multi-tasking' behaviours are opening up a wide range of opportunities for situational selling, developing more relevant customer and 'household' connections and creating promotional opportunities.

  4. Be found
    The final step in putting mobile at the heart of the customer experience concerns visibility. The wide variety of opportunities to 'be found' online demonstrate the level of influence mobile has on consumers. As well as partnerships and strategic media opportunities, businesses need to ensure that they are digitally optimising all of their online brand touchpoints for mobile, from eCRM to geo-targeted ads, digital payments and proximity marketing in a retail or out-of-home context.

"Companies need to think differently. Rather than focusing on 'mobile', they need to consider 'mobility', 'moment' and 'need'. Taking these insights into account will help companies understand how situational relevance can be converted into a rewarding and commercially beneficial customer experience", concluded Bell.