Just how attached are consumers to their smartphones? A 2012 study by IDC Research reported that 72% of all smartphone users say their devices are within an arm's reach for at least 23 hours a day. That's about 89 million adults maintaining a nearly constant connection. And when we observe kids under 18, it's even more obvious that mobile is engrained in our culture.
That cultural shift shows up everywhere:
79% of all smartphone users reach for their phone within 15 minutes of waking up, according to the same 2012 IDC Research study.
A November 2013 study by Deloitte says nearly seven out of 10 smartphone and tablet users were expected to use their devices to research, shop and buy online during this past holiday shopping season—a total of about 95 million users.
Within the financial services industry, smartphones are now the most common starting point for banking activity, according to a 2012 multi-screen user behavior study by Google & Ipsos.
Day after day, new studies confirm that mobile is winning in both convenience and experience. Not surprisingly, as the mobile culture grows and devices become more powerful, consumers expect better online experiences. That's exactly why responsive design—a way to optimize websites for literally any device—is becoming such a key component to effective online marketing.
Responsive design works by taking cues from the user's device. It looks at things like screen resolution and browser width and automatically adapts content on the fly. It also adds more functionality, features and convenience (like click-to-call) when it makes sense. The result is a more enjoyable experience that deeply engages the audience.
Of course, the use of desktops and laptops isn’t dead, and we can’t abandon those more traditional users. That's where responsive design shines: We can look at all those different devices, operating systems and screens and realize each one must offer an experience every bit as good as any other.
For the first time, with Google's updated search algorithm implemented in June 2013, responsive sites now see higher search rankings while non-responsive sites’ rankings drop. Yahoo and Bing have followed suit. And anecdotally, you’ve probably noticed these improvements yourself as most popular websites now render very nicely on mobile devices.
With such a massive mobile user base, credit unions and related organizations not only need to be ready for the sheer number of users, but also the shifting psychology of how attached they are. As Lookout reports in its 2013 Mobile Market Study, “Even the very thought of being without your mobile device due to no signal, a dead battery, or losing or forgetting it evokes emotions that range from concern to outright panic.”
That's a strong connection, and we need to understand and accommodate it.
To make the shift, think about questions that could serve as the basis for your strategy: What percentage of your current site traffic comes from mobile? How has it changed in the last year? How many of your members plan to switch to a smartphone or tablet if they haven’t already? How many of them are multi-screen users? What sites—financial services, retail or otherwise—do they like to visit with a smartphone?
Answers to these questions ultimately lead to one more: Isn’t the adaptation of responsive design just another instance of the member-centric mission we’ve all lived from the beginning?
In that sense, the key to success is actually old advice: Learn more about your members, respond to what they expect and understand how their mindsets are continually changing. With this approach, you not only drive mobile strategies for the future, you stay perfectly aligned with what the credit union movement is all about.
Susan Sachatello is senior vice president of TruStage. She can be reached at email@example.com.