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How can businesses gear up for the mobile-first world order?

By Karam Malhotra

2020 was an unprecedented year for everybody, startups to established enterprises, to humanity. Now that we are nearly halfway through 2021, truly little has changed. Lockdowns and lack of mobility as well as congregations continue, which is the new normal for businesses. For marketers specifically, new challenges emerged that drove them back to the drawing board. As business priorities get rejigged, this has been a testing time. With tighter budgets, and limited resources, they are having to think out of the box to reach their audience through newer ways, formats, and platforms.

Mobile has been a haven for brands in this sea of unknown. Businesses are meeting their consumers where they are, as mobile commerce gains traction. Click-and-mortar over brick-and-mortar models have become a necessity, brands are building custom mobile experiences, and listening to consumers more closely than ever to know what they are feeling. We now live in a mobile first world order, with Southeast Asia accounting for 639 million global million users, according to InMobi. Triggered by the pandemic, the region added 40 million new internet users, as consumers spent more time at home and shopped online. The content consumption habits of consumers have too seen a shift in the Asian region, where we have seen a jump in those seeking gaming experiences and preferring short form videos for entertainment.

According to Google, 1 in 3 digital service consumers in SEA are new as e-commerce, food deliveries, and other online services become essential, and 94% will continue this habit even after the pandemic, which will take time to blow over.

If the future is mobile, the future is ‘here’
A mobile first approach is a business imperative. Along with an audience-focused content strategy, it shall help companies drive full funnel efficiencies from awareness to leads generation to conversions

A lot of times I have observed the business marketers trying to do everything and be everywhere. This essentially means, that they want to be active on social platforms in terms of showcasing corporate leadership or advertising, create content for the blog, run email campaigns and host webinars, amongst other tactical initiatives. It is however important to channel all this hard work in the right direction, a direction that ultimately leads to a tangible output. Understanding what channels bring about maximum benefit for the company’s business is vital to charting a more focused marketing strategy.

If you are a consumer business, technology platform or app focused on driving user acquisition, app downloads or high quality traffic, it will also pay off to think above and beyond. In a digital age, the generation C has been on top of mind for marketers, where C stands for the connected customer - a term coined by Nielsen. But when it comes to them increasing the brand reach massively, in different corners of a market where perhaps broadband connectivity or internet is rare or patchy, a challenge emerges.

Tapping offline audience for growth
Communities residing in areas especially the emerging markets where a good internet connection is an issue, is real even in this day and age, and these comprise of huge numbers that are consuming content in native languages.

So has digital-first innovation left these offline audiences behind? Not really, if you consider the power of the mobile. Many marketers have been forced to think how mobile content can circulate through a community that lacks internet access.

Technology platforms or publishers like SHAREit are being used by businesses do just the same. Brands across industries like banking and fintech such as the UnionBank, social networking services like Kumu in the Philippines, super apps like Grab and gaming brands like Garena in Southeast Asia, have been leveraging the online and offline platform to acquire more users in deeper pockets of Southeast Asia.

The digital revolution in Asia is being spurred by mobile platforms, as brands look at leveraging these ecosystems and reach of these platforms, so that they can focus on what matters – building their business.

The challenges and opportunities for growth marketers
We cannot ignore that advertisers are under greater pressure, and scrutiny to connect with audiences in personal ways. Consumers are too facing growing pressure to manage and pay for a myriad of entertainment platforms, according to a Deloitte report. As they seek niche content and trending entertainment, they are veering towards ad supported options where they do not have to pay any subscription costs. This should also be a key consideration for marketers as they explore more advertising platforms.

Marketer’s need to move from chasing their audience, to adopting a neighbourhood strategy, wherein they chart the neighbourhood of the consumer and approach them with ‘what’ they are looking for on each platform. By gaining a deeper understanding of the consumer, and learning to achieve the right balance between content, cost and ad preferences, businesses can move beyond laying a wide fishnet to having a more funnelled approach.

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