Is mobile distracting you from what really matters?

One of the best parts of my job is talking to our pharmaceutical clients about taking a customer-centred approach to their marketing channels. And given the growing importance of mobile and its perception as a discrete ‘channel’, someone always wants to talk about mobile. Hence the interest we’ve received for our recent white paper on mobile experiences for pharmaceutical companies.

Yes, designing for mobile use is essential. But procuring mobile apps or mobile sites will not magically improve your customer experience. In fact it forces you to confront exactly the same issues – value proposition, content, usability – that you need to solve for your normal website. And from what customers say about pharma websites, these issues are nowhere near solved.

This doesn’t mean ignore mobile. It just means your focus is not the same as the successful tech start-ups who have all the nice apps and appear in all the top case studies. Try these three tips to stay on track:

  1. Audit your digital properties (and do it today): there’s nothing like putting yourself in your customers’ shoes to set you on the road to a better experience. You and your team have smartphones, so use them. Walk through your digital materials and keep notes of everything that’s irritating or doesn’t work. And check out the free trial options from Dudamobile and bMobilized to see how your current sites could look through a smartphone interface. Nothing like a vision of the future to turn ‘strategic thinking’ into ‘agreed next steps’.
  2. Find out how your customers are actually using mobile devices: secondary, syndicated research sources have their uses, but this type of data can often be remarkably unhelpful. Instead reach out to customers across your existing touchpoints: talk to HCPs at meetings; place surveys on existing web sites; have your field teams ask them; even commission user research. I’ll give you a surprising starter: many HCPs use mobile to access the web because the computers in their consulting rooms are horribly slow. Huge design implications.
  3. Double down on your value proposition: just like the web, you need a compelling value proposition to attract customers to your mobile services. If your existing website isn’t already attracting a significant share of your target audience then you probably have a problem with your proposition (or its communication). Mobile isn’t going to solve that. But fix your value proposition and your customers will forgive all sorts of mobile experience sins.

Mobile is incredibly (and increasingly) important, but so are your older digital channels. By all means make sure your existing channels work well on mobile devices – just don’t get so distracted by the hype you lose sight of providing a valuable, compelling and delightful experience across all channels.

Because that’s what your customers really want. And there’s no app for that…

Will is a User Experience Consultant at Blue Latitude. His focus is on making clients’ websites and services easier to use. He is particularly interested in the benefits that prototyping, sketching, web analytics and multivariate testing bring to the design process. You can learn more about his views on user-centred design and related topics on his blog or following him on Twitter.

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