Industryweek 3348 Digital

Adapting the Digital Ecosystem in Manufacturing to a Mobile-Ready World

Dec. 13, 2012
Very few manufacturers are seeking to optimize their mobile ecosystem even though many of their customers and prospects may prefer mobile for activities such as reading email.

As a manufacturing executive, you likely find yourself engaged 24/7 with critical issues such as global competition, talent wars, industry consolidation and eco-manufacturing trends. Well here’s something else you should add to the menu of “what’s keeping me up at night” -- the form and readiness of your digital ecosystem in an increasingly mobile, touch-based and contextual world.

So the next logical question is, what the heck is a digital ecosystem and why is this the next big sleep killer? We define it as the locus of online and digital touchpoints that you use to interact with customers, partners and employees, such as your website, email, search engines, blog and portals.

Now here’s the sleep deprivation part: chances are your ecosystem is primarily -- if not entirely -- oriented and optimized around the mouse/desktop, while your sales force and customers are increasingly becoming primarily mobile and tablet users. They’re quickly migrating beyond the desktop for email and search, often relying on touch and mobile devices to interact with you.

If this isn’t happening to you yet, the advent of Windows 8, the constant escalation of Apple (IW 500/9) and BYOD (bring your own device) in the workplace and the activities of your competition will change all that.

You may already be piloting a tablet program with your sales force, if you haven’t rolled it out already. You also may have noticed your competitors doing the same thing. As you strive to innovate, differentiate and grow, upgrading your ecosystem to one that is both device-ready and context-ready becomes more urgent each day. So, how exactly do you get from today’s desktop world to the device/context-ready future?

As important as it may be, re-architecting an ecosystem that has taken years to construct is a bit of a “boil the ocean” initiative. Because of this, many brands, including those well-known to consumers, are sitting on the sidelines.

If your need is clear and urgent, where and how do you begin? Often the conversation shifts to a sexy app but it’s generally not the approach that will deliver the most value and business impact. If you haven’t yet developed a mobile strategy, that’s a great place to begin.

Ask yourself a series of questions:  “What are the key business objectives and pain points mobile can support? What segments should I focus on? How can I improve my product with mobile? What competitive advantages can mobile provide?” Think about the areas where you’ll have the most reach and business impact; they’re often located at the bottom of the mobile evolution pyramid.

Mobile evolution pyramid.

Five Ways to Optimize the Mobile Ecosystem

Likely you’ve already considered or given thought to mobilizing your platforms, leveraging a separate mobile site, responsive web design (i.e. content that automatically adapts to the device type), apps or some combination of the above. If a complete website overhaul is out of the question, then an app is something that may require less investment or be more feasible. You can build this in parallel to site improvements. It doesn’t have to be an “either or” situation -- don’t take apps off the table, but don’t invest in them at the expense of your website. 

When thinking about platforms, you can consider a separate mobile site or a responsive web design approach. Focus on building a solid base experience, then you can start moving up and driving people to that experience.

We’ve found that very few manufacturers are seeking to optimize their mobile ecosystem even though many of their customers and prospects may prefer mobile for activities such as reading email.  With that in mind, here are five opportunities where you can get started on optimizing your broader mobile ecosystem: 

1. Mobile-ready email templates: If your email marketing campaigns are only optimized for the desktop, you’re in trouble -- 10-20% of emails are opened on a mobile device. According to a study by eConsultancy, of those opened, 63% of non-optimized emails are either deleted or closed immediately if they aren’t mobile compatible. Consider developing mobile-ready templates to build engagement and increase click-through rates (CTR) for your email campaigns.

2. Optimize a small portion of your website for mobile:Supplement your mobile-compatible email campaigns with mobile-optimized landing pages to keep your audience engaged when they visit your site. Focus on a small percentage of key pages, such as the homepage or key landing pages. Microsoft (IW 500/15) recently followed this approach with the launch of a responsive design home page, with plans to roll out the technology over time across its entire site.

3. Mobile-optimized SEO:Perform a review of your search engine optimization (SEO) results on mobile. How does search for your brand differ on mobile? Mobile search is a prime researching tool, cultivating customers more efficiently with lower cost per click (CPC) and more effectively with higher CTR than desktop search. SEO has a place both on the web and in the growing app marketplace, and local search is frankly more important on a mobile device. Start with a mobile site map for SEO and leverage Google+ and Bing. Optimize your metadata to include your location so people can find you when they’re nearby.

4. Mobile-specific search engine marketing (SEM) campaigns:Paid search is also becoming an important factor on mobile. You’re likely already running a Google AdWords campaign, but you may be missing out on customers and prospects that are on the move and looking for information. Start by building unique keywords and ad groups for mobile; check out Google’s get mobilized site for some tips and help.

5. Alter Your Mindset :Are mobile and touch optimized experiences at the front of your mind when planning new digital initiatives or optimizing existing programs? In our interactions with manufacturers and industrial product marketers, the answer is often no. Shift your mindset to be more mobile-aware and you’ll likely find quick wins all around you.

These five opportunities will help you augment the marketing you’re already doing and prepare you to succeed in the device- and context-ready world of tomorrow. Looking for more? We recently gave a presentation on the new mobile frontier; check out some of our findings.

Mike Stutman is senior vice president of Strategy and Innovation at Primacy. You can reach him at [email protected].

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