American Marketer


Key tips for a mobile-first approach to marketing

December 6, 2013

Ivka Adam is vice president of marketing and mobile at Modnique



By Ivka Adam

Back in 2010 Eric Schmidt announced Google’s mobile-first approach to product development. Companies such as Facebook, eBay, Amazon and Microsoft quickly followed suit.

At that time, smartphone penetration was at 30 percent. Today, with smartphone penetration at 64 percent in the United States, and more than 60 percent in other major economies such as Britain, Australia, China, Italy and South Korea, the idea to do anything desktop-first is antiquated.

As marketers, we are seeing the shift in campaign engagement to mobile at a rate that is impossible to ignore.

Mobile open rates of email are 48 percent in the U.S. and 55 percent for the retail industry, social sharing on mobile occurs twice as often as shares on the desktop, and redemption rates for mobile coupons are 10 times higher than those of traditional coupons.

Whether you are a powerhouse brand or a small startup, it is time to take a mobile-first approach to marketing.

What you can learn from your development team

Spend a little time with your mobile developers and you will pick up on a few things your marketing team can incorporate.

 Have multiple devices on hand to check banners, landing pages and emails during the design process

 Set guidelines for minimum font sizes, photos, buttons and calls to action

 QA every campaign on multiple devices

If you walk through our office, you will find the desks of the marketing department littered with iPads, iPhones and Samsung Galaxys. We monitor which devices are most popular among our customers through Google Analytics, and optimize our campaigns for those screen sizes.

Mobile is about the customer

In ecommerce, the marketing function ultimately owns the customer. Typically, mobile applications and mobile Web sites are owned by the product function, but consider that the mobile product, at the end of the day, should be designed with the customer in mind.

Smartphones and tablets are very personal devices, so the experience should be personalized and special.

Put the mobile function under the marketing umbrella and measure the success of mobile products in the same way you measure your marketing campaigns: How well do they acquire, engage and retain customers?

Tips to optimize your marketing campaigns for mobile

Here are a few things that we have picked up along the way.


 Write your email subject lines and pre-header text for iPhone and Android.

 Consider deep-linking your email and other marketing campaigns into the app if you have high adoption of your mobile apps.

 Always create mobile versions of your landing pages.

 Monitor device use by time of day and consider tailoring your message or offer accordingly.


 Break-out your campaign results by device – smartphone, tablet and desktop – when deciding how to optimize.

 Do not assume that a low conversion rate on smartphones means that the customer is not buying. She may be completing her transaction on the tablet or desktop. Also, start keeping tabs on mobile-specific metrics such as mobile open rates for email, banner impressions by device and CPC and CPM by device

 Push your service providers to break out statistics by device. Whether it is your email service product, social plug-in or any of your marketing agencies, you should influence their product roadmap to give you the mobile insights you need.


 Create your emails using responsive design with easily clickable calls-to-action.

 Make sure your primary message and call-to-action is above the fold.

 And, finally, sometimes your designs are going to look big and awkward on your 27-inch iMac, but trust us, it will look good on the iPhone.

MOBILE HAS become central to the lives of our customers.

The spectrum of new devices has changed the way we communicate with each other, which ultimately changes the way brands big or small should communicate with their constituents.

So, in reality, you could say that mobile-first marketing is really just customer-first because you are changing the way you communicate to embrace new patterns of consumer behavior.

Ivka Adam is vice president of marketing and mobile at Modnique, Redondo Beach, CA. Reach her at