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Businesses should stop playing catch-up and get to grips with mobile

John is Brightfire founder and CEO. A graduate of Strathclyde University Business School, he has worked in a variety of senior management roles in digital media since 1997, re-launching Brightfire as an inbound marketing company in 2010, joining forces with HubSpot. Beyond work, John’s passion is skiing, and he has been fortunate to travel the globe on numerous occasions in search of that perfect powder day. These days that includes dragging his family along, too!

Find John on LinkedIn and follow Brightfire on Twitter.

Just try to open a marketing email on your tiny mobile phone screen, and you will see why businesses by and large are missing the mark when it comes to mobile. The majority of branded online content just does not render well on mobile devices, to the exasperation of busy users who are likely to quickly abandon a business website if they have to face the hassle of pinching the screen, zooming in/out or scrolling left to right to read a piece of content. Who on earth has the time for that in today’s busy world?

The ‘ultimate screen’ challenge

In a context where 85% of UK mobile users seek local information on their smartphones and mobile is expected to surpass laptop and PC usage in the next two years, small business owners seem to be in no rush when it comes to making their websites mobile friendly. A survey conducted by Serif found that 74% of small businesses have yet to design a mobile-optimised version of their website, while just one in 10 believe this is necessary.

According to another report, The Multi-Screen Marketer by Econsultancy, marketers are still grappling with the implementation of their cross-screen strategies and often not getting it quite right - 72% of the multi-screen consumers interviewed for the purposes of the study say it is common or very common that apps from businesses aren’t worth downloading, and that business websites don’t work well on mobile devices.

Why the discrepancy? Why aren’t companies looking to provide a better mobile experience when figures clearly point to a booming usage of second and third screens?

The answer lies in the lack of technical expertise and creative solutions, on one hand, and the tricky nature of engaging the ever-migrating audiences across different platforms, on the other. The good news – for businesses, anyway - is that people actually happen to be quite keen to interact with brands and engage with branded mobile content, although this also means that users’ expectations of receiving connected content that flows easily from one device to another are rising. According to the Econsultancy report, 47% of tablet owners have used a mobile device to respond to something on the screen and 28% have downloaded an application related to a show they watch. And on top of that, the number of mobile ad impressions being served to non-phone devices is rapidly increasing, too.

So businesses should be looking to tap into the multi-screen revolution, which provides unequalled opportunities for engaging the rising number of multitasking users. To deliver a personalised user experience at the right time and the right place, you need both a technical knowhow and a creative mind.

But what company directors must also do is completely change their perceptions of the traditional business-consumer relationship. Do you really want to win people’s hearts and minds? Then stop thinking about the multi-screen user as a passive consumer, and start creating content that encourages them to engage. Stop regurgitating the same content across all displays, and start thinking about creating powerful and emotional bespoke user experiences.

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John Hornell

John is founder and CEO at Brightfire a content marketing agency specialising in working with funded tech companies and ambitious start ups in UK, Europe and U.S. He also advises companies on go to market strategies, inbound marketing, content marketing, revenue acceleration and business change.

A graduate of Strathclyde University Business School, he has worked in a variety of senior management roles in digital media since 1997, re-launching Brightfire as an inbound marketing company in 2010 and joining forces with HubSpot. Beyond work, John’s passion is skiing, and he has been fortunate to travel the globe on numerous occasions in search of that perfect powder day.

All by John