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Is Mobile A Bigger Game Changer Than Social Media? – @TheTimHayden
The Agents of Change


Mobile is a bigger factor in your small business’s success than you might think. The fact that 90% of all social media and email is first viewed on a smartphone means that your business is losing out big time if you’re not reaching your audience where they hang out.

Understanding that when your audience is reaching you via their smartphones or other mobile devices, they want a frictionless and more condensed experience. They don’t want to have to scroll through multiple pages just to get a phone number or an address. That risky behavior will get you nothing but increased bounce rates and lost customers.

Tim Hayden saw the mobile future coming and used that foresight to help Fortune 50 brands make innovative changes in technology that has brought them bigger and continued success.

Rich: Tim Hayden has more than 15 years experience in leading high growth technology firms, marketing agencies and business strategies for many Fortune 50 brands. Not that ghetto 500 stuff, this is the top 50 brands in Fortune.

Now before Zignal Labs, he led marketing technology and process improvement programs for clients of TTH Strategy, a consultancy that Tim founded. Also having led the mobile program for Edelman Digital here in North America, he has been a founding member of agencies and technology ventures and a catalyst for innovative change in some of the world’s leading brands like CafePress, Dell, Bacardi and a whole bunch more.

He is also the coauthor of The Mobile Commerce Revolution, says QUE Biz Tech, October 2014. I’ll ask him what that means, because I thought it was already out.

Tim, welcome to the show.

Tim: Hey Rich, thanks for having me, buddy.

Rich: So what does QUE Biz Tech October 2014…? Oh, here’s how confused I am, I was thinking that this is coming up, but I know I’ve seen that book, I know I’ve held it in my hands.

Tim: Yes, I’m sure you have. You couldn’t put it down once you had it in your hands.

Rich: Exactly. And that was probably because of all the sticky glue you put on it when you handed it to me.

Tim: Yes! Que Biz Tech is basically the business books for the technology industry – or in this case, marketing technology – it’s a division of Pearson Publishing. a very large, national, global publishing company.

Rich: Excellent. Just part of your plan for global domination, I see.

Tim: I don’t want to dominate, I just want to run towards the front. That’s all I want to do.

Rich: Excellent. So how did you get involved with mobile marketing at the beginning?

Tim: It’s really a funny story. The first agency I started, Neon Interactive, was all about macromedia presentations. Everybody wanted a flash website in 2000/2001. And then there were things they wanted to do with macromedia director presentations on CD-Roms.

Well it was right then that I had clients that were doing massive direct mail programs and handing out CD-Roms at trade shows. Back in those days we could just use what was called Urchin – which became part of Google Analytics – to be able to see if people put the CD-Roms in their computers when they got home. And then we’d be able to – sometimes – with static IP addresses be able to tell if they were 1000 miles away or just down the street. It really wasn’t until the second agency I started, GamePlan, that we started doing event marketing.

Around 2006/2007 when smartphones first hit the market and certainly everyone had a cellular phone at that point – features phones, as we call them – at that point is when I said, “Hey, we’re producing this event and the thing that’s happening here is everybody in the room has a device on them.” And that’s the missing link with marketing. I don’t think we even called it ‘mobile’ at the time, we may have just called it ‘cellular’. We said what do we have to do to get people with their devices they take with them everywhere that are now here at this event, how do we get them to use that device?

And this was pre-Instagram, pre-Facebook. We were wondering how do we get people to send a text message, take a picture and go home and download it to their computer and share it and email it to their friends? It was that archaic, but that’s a good timeline for you. It was the mid 2000’s is when it first hit me that mobile, something interesting is about to happen.

Rich: Well that’s awesome. You definitely saw the future coming. I think most of us can agree that mobile is so critical and I’m sure almost every listener on this show – if not every listener – has a smartphone. Obviously if you listen to a podcast there’s a very good chance you’re listening on your phone.

I think when a lot of small businesses start thinking about this they start thinking that developing a mobile strategy sounds too advanced or too expensive. What would you say to them?

Tim: I think people are too centered, too focused, too wrapped up in technology. It’s something I have said for years. You have to look at your current customers, and if you can understand their behavior, their though, their consideration process, for how they want to buy you and why they want to buy yo. If you can start to get into that type of thinking, it just becomes natural to understand where mobile may fit into that.

The other side of that is to probably go look at something as simple as Google Analytics and start to understand what was 3 years ago could have been less than 10% of the traffic coming to your homepage would have been coming from an IOS or a Blackberry device. And I would say 3 years ago we certainly were on the early edge of Android, as well.

Today, it’s just natural. We’re looking at the fact that more than 90% of all social media consumption is happening on smartphones. More than 90% of all email is first viewed – or at least first seen from a notification standpoint – on a mobile device. It doesn’t mean that it’s ultimately consumed there. I think a lot of people see an email – and various people are studying this with numbers all over the map – in terms of how people will see a message on one device and then they’ll actually go execute against it or act on it on another device.

But mobile is not just the second screen, it’s the primary screen. I think people just get wrapped up in technology too much. They need to just try to understand who the humans are and interact with them before they try to get wrapped up in any type of newfangled gurble-garble technology talk.

Rich: So, it’s interesting what you just said. I know that I’m the same way. I know some people wake up with their phones and they check their email first thing. I don’t tend to do that but usually if I’m at the gym and I’m cooling off, that’s what I call my “mobile filter”. Which is basically I go through all my emails and anything that’s kind of newslettery that I’m not really interested in or every single LinkedIn update, I just immediately delete using what I call that “mobile filter”. And then anything that seems important and deserves a real response, I usually wait until I get back to my desktop. And I know a lot of other people are behaving like that.

The other interesting thing that I heard you say is when it comes to mobile, I think a lot of people either think of apps or a mobile website, but the 2 things you just brought up are social media and email. So if we’re a small business, are those 2 elements of mobile strategy that we should be kind of creating tactics behind?

Tim: Absolutely. Let’s just consider that. And it depends on where you lived geographically. I rode the ferry into San Francisco this morning, and I looked around me and of course everyone that’s on the ferry has a device in their hands. Some people are reading the paper – which I love and still think is much more natural – but that your audience could be on the go, your audience is also looking at things on a smaller screen consuming the messages you’re sending them.

So what this means is if email is still such a major play on the mobile device, how do you start to think about being more brief and much more concise in terms of the message you want to deliver and the call to action you want to have. And that call to action now may not need to be clicking through to go read another 500 words on a blog. It may not be to go watching a 2-minute video. It may be to click for a map to find the nearest location. It may be to click here to schedule an appointment or to call us.

I think that’s another thing. People continuously forget that these are phones before they are supercomputers. And some people still, rather than have to go through many, many clicks and searching for the information they need, they’d just be more happy to click a button and have a human on the other end to answer the phone and be able to answer questions.

So it really depends on what your business is, but I think you need to start to look at the incumbent, those existing media touchpoints, those things that were with us on desktops that we were slaves to at times. We used to sit there and wait, staring at Outlook, waiting for an email to come over to arrive in our inbox. And that hasn’t changed much. Most people are still very dependant on email, they’re very dependant on social media and social media notifications to alert them when something is happening that they may want to take notice of. And with that I think, as a small business, you need to focus on where the audience is, what they’re comfortable with, before you start to wrap your head around how you’re going to invest – sometimes over invest – in something like a mobile app or mobile payment systems. 

I know there are lots of small businesses right now that have banks, payment processors – folks like Square – that are knocking on their doors now promising them the moon in terms of new customers and lower payments. To make those investments, you need to start at square one and understand what it is that people do today and what have they been doing for years, because those are the same things they’re doing on smartphones.

Rich: Absolutely, and that makes sense. So you mentioned app, so I know for years at my day job at flyte new media, people would call me up and say, “Hey, do you do mobile app,s I need a mobile app?” And my take on it was, “Are you sure that’s the first thing you should be doing?”

So how do you feel about mobile apps versus mobile websites? For a small business, is there one correct way to go, does it depend on what your situation is? How might you determine if they need an app or a website first?

Tim: That has been the golden question that everybody has. When I speak at conferences or whenever I’ve been interviewed for the book, that seems to be at the top of everyone’s list, to app or not to app. Do I need a responsive website? The best answer for that is, it is requisite now. And after April 21, 2015, Google has deemed it an absolutely critical necessity that you have a responsive website.

Understand, Google can say that. Google can do that. The audience at large still knows that Google has the answers for them when they’re looking for specific information, they’re looking to buy something or learn more about a product. I think the truth is none of us know what device people will be using next year to search for us. But Google will be one of the great arbiters of that search and discovery behavior that happens there. And as they do that – and they do that from their smartwatch or their iCarplay system, from their TV set – there’s all kinds of different touchpoints beyond just the smartphone or a tablet. Having a truly responsive website that can deliver content when people search for you, is requisite.

That is your first order or business. There’s a whole other conversation to have whether or not you would build an app or not, But I think there’s no question.

Rich: Alright, so the price of entry is a mobile friendly website and responsive seems to be the most popular way to approach that, at least for most small businesses today.

Also you mentioned earlier on that social media and email, and I think a lot of businesses forget this because not every day is somebody going to be going to most small businesses websites, but everyday people may be going to Twitter or to Facebook or to Instagram or checking their email, all places where you may have already developed a relationship with them. Is that right?

Tim: It’s absolutely right. And what you just laid the groundwork for is what we call “sideways traffic.” Sideways traffic is not someone going to Google and searching for you and not someone who is seeing your url on a business card or billboard and then went to your website. Which, 80% of the time in those situations they’re going to do on their phone. What they’re doing is they are finding you or seeing you go by a newsfeed in Facebook or on Twitter, and the links that you’re sharing there ultimately will need to be responsive. Where those folks land whenever they click on a link you share, if it’s news you’re sharing, more often than not most of the news community has followed suit and shored up with a responsive, well performing,something that is fast loading on a smartphone or mobile device.

Behaviorally, thinking about how people are going to run into the messages you’re pushing out, their email, social media, or what you’ve optimized from a search standpoint, inevitably they will come back to you through that smartphone. They will get to you and if you’re not meeting them with something that’s going to be performing well that’s going to operate smoothly, I think that’s where you’re going to have bounce rates and that’s when you’re going to lose customers.

Rich: That makes a lot of sense. So I recently saw a stat about the Near Me search engine on Google has greatly increased in the last year. So people searching like, “gas station near me” or “pizza near me” or “web designer near me”. How can mobile help us with our local marketing?

Tim: That’s a great question. We saw a couple years ago the beginning of a trend where people were starting to use Facebook to find a business. They were doing the same thing with Yelp, they were certainly doing that with Google. But let’s talk about what causes this to happen. Facebook got into a partnership with Pitney Bowes. Pitney Bowes is the company that for years – as the US government initiated the zip code system – they created these machines that allowed mailrooms in law firms first and then large corporations and then small businesses, for people to be able to label mail rather than have to put stamps on all their direct mail. And then they’d be able to organize it via zip code to make it easier for the Postal Service to then deliver it.

Well all of that address information – local data – all of that was plugged into Facebook and all of a sudden if you looked for any business you would find them on Facebook, whether they had a page setup or not. And with that, I think the natural maturation of how Facebook becomes a search engine, a product finding resource for consumers, all the statistics were there that show that people spend an inordinate amount of their waking hours staring at Facebook.

So how is Facebook going to make it easier to connect the dots between something people see – whether it’s an advertisement or the mention of a brand – and ultimately make a decision to purchase it? I think it’s not just what’s happening with “Near Me”, it’s what’s already been there in terms of location and commerce data with store information being there inside Facebook. There’s the other side of this which is what Facebook is probably going to do which is make it to where – just like you can on Amazon with one-click purchasing – you’ll have this ability to store payment information and buy things, have them delivered to you in 4 hours or 2 days or whatever the immediacy of the impulse needs you have may be.

It’s just the natural progression of where we’re going. If you’re a local, small business, I would start testing what Facebook already has in terms of information about your business, claim it – if you can – from a real estate standpoint, claim those profiles and make sure that when folks are searching for you and they want to tag you because they visited you ro took a photo in your store, right now you need to do everything you can to wrap your hands around it and make sure that you at least understand what’s there already and how people are interacting with it.

Rich: That makes a lot of sense. Now obviously mobile is still so new and so fluid that people jump in and don’t always know what they’re doing. What do you think some of the missed opportunities that marketers and entrepreneurs suffer from when it comes to mobile?

Tim: I think there’s a couple ways to answer that. One is generational. You have an audience of consumers – we’ll call them consumers even though many of them are now in B2B purchasing positions – you’ve got folks that are under 30 years old right now that have grown up in a world that was largely wireless or mobile, even. And they are having this expectation that in anything they do it’s interacting with a brand from a customer service standpoint or it’s reordering supplies or it’s finding a location to pick up a product or to go shopping for products to be determined, or something that’s on a shopping list.

We’re starting to see not just a younger generation but everyone is being taught by Starbucks, by Amazon, by a number of other folks who did it their way. The audience is now being taught that life doesn’t have to have the friction, it doesn’t have to take as long as it used to to get what I need, to find what I want, to buy what it is my business requires. And I think that is both a challenge and an opportunity to entrepreneurs and small business today, and B2B business as well. Because they have done business the way they have for 5 years, 10 years, 20+ years, and they just believe they know everything about their industry, their audience, their customers, and that’s being challenged right now by new behaviors.

I think mobile is a bigger game changer than social media was. It’s not just about being connected, it’s about being empowered to get what I want when I need it, and to be able to find what I need when I need it. I just think that’s a massive hill that we’re all climbing right now, and no one has mastered it yet, I don’t think. I mentioned a couple of brands there, but I don’t think anyone’s quite mastered what the real opportunity with mobile is right now. And that’s good news for everybody. We’re all in this together, we’re all students, we’re all going to learn together.

Rich: Well it almost sounds like what you’re describing in answering this question is it represents a shift in mindset. And for years the seller – or the vendor – in many businesses would almost be running interference between the customer and the truth. People like travel agents who had the secret information that no one else did so we always had to go through them. It’s not like it was nefarious, it’s just how the business was done.

But now that information is so available, first through the internet and now that the internet is literally in our pants pocket, it’s just become less frictionless that that is the new mentality. And the expectation is that nothing is going to get in my way from making this purchase or getting this information or understanding more about the world around us. Mobile has accelerated this, and what companies need to do realize is that this is the new way of doing business and this is what people expect from us and we have to adapt to that.

Tim: And that’s just it. Let’s analyze – and I say this hypothetically – let’s look at our business and let’s understand what we do from a business process standpoint, from a business operation and service provisioning standpoint, how do we fulfill the needs of our customers and let’s look at where there is friction where there are unneeded steps that perhaps new technology can come in and make more efficient.

I think that’s the great promise of what’s happening now with so many business operations going to the cloud being accessed by wireless devices or being accessed through wireless networks. I believe that every, single business out there right now has got an opportunity to reduce their operating expenses to make their business more efficient to save time to serve more customers, to grow margins. For the first time in our lives it’s not about lopping new technology on top of old, it’s about throwing old technology out and bringing new technology in, that simply makes life easier.

Rich: Alright, well that’s some good information. I always like to give our listeners something actionable and tactical that they can jump on. So I know that a lot of people are always interested in generating more mobile web traffic. Do you have some tips for us on how we can get some more mobile traffic, and even should that be a desire of ours?

Tim: Well yeah. It’s funny, Rich, everyone wants to go to a conference and have someone get on a stage and say, “Tell me about how to increase traffic. How do I build out my Facebook audience?” Is that what you need to do? I think that’s always the first question. But to get tactical and satisfy your question, I will tell you.

I will tell you it’s what we already discussed. Be responsive, have a website that is condensed content. You’re going to reduce the amount of content, you’re going to reduce the amount of steps that you’re requiring people to go through to click and get to those actionable parts of your website. Subscribing to a newsletter, looking at the “contact us” page, reviewing product specs, whatever it may be that you’re housing on your website. Answer that first, how you’re going to make life easier for them when they get there. For one reason, Google will love you for it. Google will give you higher search rankings if the whole of your website – not just your homepage – is responsive/mobile friendly.

They are in that business now of making sure that anyone who searches for something through Google on a mobile device isn’t let down by landing on a non-mobile site. So if you’re doing that, that’s step #1. That will just organically have the amount of traffic and reduce the bounce rates that you have. I don’t know about abandoned carts, we’re not going to get into that right now, but I’ll just say that people will come to your site in a larger volume and they will hang out there longer if it’s mobile friendly and responsive.

The other side of this is to really shore up what’s happening from a Google Adwords standpoint and from a Facebook standpoint. Your ability to take your existing customer database, the email addresses that you have – and a neat little trick if you’re a LinkedIn premium member, export all of your connections on LinkedIn – and take those email addresses and those from your current CRM database and to dump those into Facebook as a custom audience and with that custom audience being able to target people by where they are or by certain preferences that you’re able to dial up. This is the grand promise of Atlas with Facebook that all of us will be able to pinpoint the people we want to see our ads.

But I’m just saying you do that – there’s a little bit of homework you have to do, a little bit of legwork – but once you do that, putting advertise that meets people in their newsfeeds and then when they click out of Facebook, over to your website it becomes more seamless, more fluid. You’ll just find that naturally Google will love that, Facebook will do everything they can to give you more reasons to spend more money with them.

Everyone wants to make this work, and ultimately starting with the people that you already know, is the best place to start to build some type of growth in traffic. The people that have already opened their wallet up to you or just shared time with you or shared their email address with you. These are people who have already made an investment. You know them and they are your best chance of getting a click, of getting them to visit your website. And what you learn from them will then tell you what to do next in terms of trying to drive more traffic and drive more sales.

Rich: Great, great information. Thanks so much, Tim. Now I know some people are going to want to learn a little more than we touched on today, so where can they find out more about you online?

Tim: The 2 best places obviously are LinkedIn and Twitter. I share quite a bit there, I share many of the exciting things that we are doing here at Zignal Labs, I do that on Twitter. At ZignalLabs.com you’ll find blogs, you’ll find my bio and whitepapers and case studies. Those are the two places, really, go to LinkedIn and Twitter and if you can make it over to Zignal Labs website you’re going to find a little bit more about what I do in my day job.

Rich: Awesome. And we’ll have those links and everything else in the show notes. Tim, thank you so much for making time for us today.

Tim: You got it, Rich. Thanks for having me man, it’s always a pleasure.

Show notes:

  • Check out more about what Tim does at his day job.
  • Interact with Tim on Twitter and LinkedIn and see what valuable information he’s sharing.
  • Looking to delve deeper into the world of mobile commerce? Check out Tim’s book on the subject.
  • When not hosting this podcast, Rich Brooks is the fearless leader of flyte new media, a web design and marketing company in Portland, Maine. You can follow him on Twitter and see for yourself if he’s really as funny as he thinks he is.
  • Have you gotten your tickets yet for the Agents Of Change Digital Marketing Conference? What are you waiting for? There’s still time to get your tickets now!AOCP-Tim-Hayden-Facebook