Mobile marketing isn’t rocket science. But there’s one thing you probably ought to know about: mobile websites and pages that look great on one device might crash and look awful on another.
It’s a fact of life for mobile marketers but, as you’re about to see, there’s no need to panic.
Device diversity: a marketing challenge
If you’re running a marketing campaign on the desktop web, your job is pretty easy. A site that works on one PC will pretty much work on all the others. Sure, you have to test your pages against a handful of browsers, but your developers are all used to that by now.
Here’s the tricky part: unlike the Wintel-dominated PC world, the mobile universe has literally thousands of permutations of handset, operating system and browser version.
Why does this matter? Because a mobile campaign or web page that looks great on one person’s phone can look awful, be unusable or just plain crash on another’s. That’s not only frustrating, it’s bad for your brand. And it happens a lot.
This device diversity problem is one of the main brakes on mobile web adoption among consumers. And it’s almost entirely avoidable. The approach followed by first-generation mobile websites was to ‘spray and pray’ – just publish the site and hope for the best. And the results were predictable: broken sites, disappointed users and brands besmirched with the stigma of the Error Message.
To combat device diversity, mobile marketers are increasingly making their sites and campaigns ‘device-aware’. That means using technology that automatically determines the specific handset asking for your pages, then targets your content just for that handset.
It sounds ridiculously complex, but it’s not – as long as you have access to a comprehensive database of device profiles, each with a rich set of data about the device’s capabilities (hundreds of little factoids, including everything from screen size and colors to things like photo-messaging support).
If your mobile web server or mobile applications know what phone they’re sending content to, they can send the best possible content that makes use of that phone’s capabilities and avoids its limitations.
In short: you create your content once, but make it friendly for every user, no matter what handset they’re using.
Know who you’re talking to
Where do you tell your developers to find these all-important device databases?
Well, the good news is that there are a few open source (free) ones available – you can drop words like WURFL and UAprofs into your conversation with the techies and they’ll be impressed.)
The bad news is that the open source device libraries are notoriously incomplete and riddled with inaccuracies.
So the whizkidz at mobiForge.com decided to solve the problem.
What follows is a shameless advertisement for DeviceAtlas, a fantastic new tool that makes it easy to make your mobile sites and campaigns device-aware, so you can reach every user on planet Earth (Mars and Venus will be supported in later releases).
We’d feel guilty about this blatant plug if it weren’t for two facts:
DeviceAtlas is like a wiki – the worldwide community of developers, handset manufacturers and operators keep it up-to-date and accurate by constantly improving the entries and resolving any information conflicts. So it’s not only the most comprehensive database around, it’s also getting better every day.
What you need to do now
As a marketer, you don’t need to worry your pretty little head about the technologies that make device-aware mobile sites possible. But you do need to worry your pretty little head about reaching the widest possible audience – and minimizing user frustration with sites that look awful or just don’t work.
So before you release your next mobile website or campaign to the world, ask your developers whether the content is device-aware. If they say Yes, ask what device database they’re using. If they say Device Atlas, you’ve got some good developers there.
If they say any other database (or none at all), point them to our complete mobile device testing tool, DeviceAtlas. Measurably higher response rates will be your reward.