An Inspiring Story of Mobile-First Approach as a Winning Game Plan

A 2018 study in Ireland found that local consumers checked their phones 55 times per day on average (Mobile Consumer Survey, Deloitte). Photo credit: Shutterstock

There are no experts of tomorrow, only of yesterday,” says Jack Ma, founder of Alibaba and China’s wealthiest person.

When Kenny Kline and a friend founded their marketing agency in 2014, the entrepreneurs brought laptops to coffee shops and routinely burned the midnight oil in a cramped New York apartment.

Digital marketing is notoriously competitive, and the bootstrapped duo’s prospects looked middling, at best.

A Mobile-First Game Plan

Fueled by late-night lattes, JAKK Media’s founders stuck with their convictions: The future belongs to marketers who could communicate and entertain via iPhones, Samsung devices, and small screens. The former McKinsey & Co. consultant and graduate of Columbia Business School bet the farm on that future: a mobile-first approach that creates user engagement for corporate clients.

Mr. Kenny Kline (far left), managing partner of a marketing agency that he co-founded in 2014, leads 30 employees in Brooklyn, N.Y. and Austin, Texas. He says brands should adopt a mobile-first strategy in everything they do or risk getting left behind by innovative marketers. Photo credit: K. Kline

Mr. Kline (after five years in practice) now leads 30 employees in Brooklyn, N.Y. and Austin, Texas. What’s his advice for brands?

Our secret sauce is that people engage content differently on mobile compared to desktop. Smartphone owners want laughter, fun, and excitement. Brands get lost in overwhelming level of noise and even a big budget could fall flat. They must vie for an audience’s shortening attention spans.

JAKK’s cofounder is referring to adults and kids who are interrupted 24/7 by games, Twitter, chat apps, phone calls and texts, and other seemingly urgent tasks. These cause non-compelling messages to get ignored — like yesterday’s black-and-white newspaper.

Web surfers are spending less time on desktop to find content. Mobile traffic was 70% of all web traffic in 2018, according to AdWeek. Thus, consumer habits are clearly evolving. Photo credit: Shutterstock

Exponential Growth of Smartphone Use

Consumers now spend five hours daily on mobile, according to 2018 AdWeek survey, representing 70% of all web traffic. And mobile video use is up 88% year-over-year.

But all that (potential) traffic will quickly disappear if your phone-facing content or infrastructure aren’t good. For example, half (53%) of site visits are abandoned if a page takes longer than three seconds to load. And when it comes to ecommerce, Google found that a one-second delay can reduce conversions by up to 20%.

The lessons are these: The digital crowd is extremely impatient, and people demand instant gratification via compelling content or offers.

Twitter Kenny Kline

Kline says companies must forget past trends, and that innovative approaches to marketing are key in today’s mobile-powered landscape.

In spite of persuasive trends, most companies still prioritize desktop. It may be resistance to change while others are unable to adapt. I see too many brands get left behind, especially when competing with disruptive marketers who aren’t afraid of trial-and-error.

Compelling Content as a Competitive Advantage

Even though we live in the Information Age, JAKK’s cofounder says that information isn’t enough. He advises brands to experiment with creative ways to grab people’s attention.

Over the past decade, mobile marketing has gradually upended traditional channels such as television, billboards, and newspapers. And therefore, tectonic shifts in advertising practices are creating opportunities for businesses that follow a mobile-first game plan.

Moreover, attention is the new wealth. It represents traffic and engagement, part of which converts into sales. And part of that leads to recurring business. “The best marketing doesn’t feel like marketing,” says Tom Fishburne, a well-known marketer.

Given all the noise, it takes out-of-the-box thinking and bold designs for a message to radiate from a tiny electronic screen, and touch or influence a person.

So how’s his team performing?

Today our sites reach millions of monthly visitors, and more than 60% of traffic comes from mobile. We want phone users to say, ‘Wow, that’s incredible content!’. Secondly, online material must be optimized for phone screens.

And how does coffee taste these days when you’ve got a dozen corporate accounts? Kenny Kline chuckles. “Tastier. Because you’re thankful for everything — business and otherwise.”

When the vision matches reality, the world considers you an expert.

“The best marketing doesn’t feel like marketing,” says Tom Fishburne, a well-known marketer. Photo credit: K. Kline

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