American Marketer


Steps to take while envisioning a mobile presence

May 21, 2013

Jen O’Brien is integration director at Manifest Digital


By Jen O’Brien

This is the first article in a series geared toward decision-makers who are currently exploring or are in the midst of developing a mobile presence.

The goal is to provide best practices in designing and developing a successful mobile presence. I am focused on the how of this endeavor – the process to use and decisions to make along the way.

Following these guidelines will help you build a successful mobile business solution by asking smart questions and making strategic choices.

End goals
At the end of the Envision phase, you should be able to answer:

• What are my key goals and objectives?

• Who is my audience, and how do they most desire to consume information?

• How will I measure success?

• What are my business requirements, and how will I achieve these over time?

Key goals and objectives
Key goals and objectives should be defined for any project, regardless of platform.

When considering mobile in the mix, there are some additional questions you can ask. Understand the core features you want to provide across all platforms. This knowledge informs where you are missing opportunities on mobile or other channels.

Knowing the strengths of mobile as compared to desktop can make your goals more impactful.

For example, if knowing discrete location of your customers is paramount, leverage the GPS capabilities mobile can bring to the table to meet this goal.

Audience definition
Understanding your audience and what best resonates with them is key to providing experiences that they will consistently return to and take advantage of, naturally extending your brand recognition and customer reach.

There are audience elements that impact a successful mobile presence of your audience to consider, such as:

• Will the audience have continuous connectivity?

• Will the audience have the ability to scan QR codes to access targeted information?

• Is the audience comfortable with accepting regular updates to applications, or would they prefer to access current information on their terms through a mobile site?

Success measurement
Success measurement is a no-brainer with any project – we all need to demonstrate that work efforts optimize our presence. But what denotes success for mobile?

Be smart about the metrics you define. Some are better than others.

For example, is the number of downloads as important as quality engagement with your app? Identify the metrics, and prioritize according to importance.

Advise decision-makers to understand what creates sustainable success and then include that within your success measurement definition.

Business requirements and roadmap
Documenting business requirements and gaining consensus on them is critical to any project’s success.

Accounting for mobile within this mix is important – especially because stakeholders often have differing levels of knowledge regarding mobile.

It is important to make sure everyone is on the same page at the outset, so that that you all are working toward common end points.

Use the understanding you have gained during audience definition to help flesh out business requirements.

For example, based on audience needs and desires, you might choose to go with an app that takes QR codes as inputs – one that supports just in time training on a device, for example.

You might further decide against a mobile site because your audience is in a secure health facility working on a floor that does not allow continuous connectivity.

Once business requirements are defined and prioritized, you can begin to road map when you intend to achieve specific components of a solution.

It is important to deliver a foundational solution first, including any highly critical components, and then define out by phase-added components and functionality you want to implement.

If you attempt to deliver the complete solution at the outset, often you will spend longer than desired getting your mobile presence into the marketplace.

Next steps
Once you have identified key goals and objectives, defined your audience and their needs, determined how you will measure success and agreed upon business requirements and achievement timeline, you are ready to move on to the next part: designing your mobile presence.

Watch for the next installment in this series, where we guide you through process and decision points that will help make you successful when designing with mobile in mind.

Jen O’Brien is integration director at Manifest Digital, Chicago. Reach her at