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Mobilize Your Business

Three steps to mobilize your business now. (And why you need to...)

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Kim Dushinski

So does mobile marketing keep you up at night? Either figuring it out or being excited by the opportunities? Me too.

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Two of my favorite things in the world have come together – Costco and mobile. And I am so happy to share all the ways that Costco is doing mobile right and a couple things I wish they would do differently.

First, I was alerted to the new Costco mobile strategy when I read my November 2010 issue of Costco Connection, their excellent member magazine. That is actually the first thing they did right was have an excellent magazine that is worth members’ time to read. In the article titled Beaming up to, David Wright announced that Costco now has a mobile-friendly website and an SMS campaign. They have apps for iPhone, Blackberry and Android phones coming soon.

Obviously, the first thing Costco is doing right is getting mobilized. It is time for smart businesses to be on board with mobile.

I am so glad they did the mobile web first and are launching apps later. Any smart phone can get on the mobile web. By going with the mobile web first they opened for all smart phones and mobile web-enabled phones. Smart move. Businesses that declare they are “mobile” and only have an iPhone app are missing the big picture and the biggest audience.

Costco did not make a big deal about their mobile site domain being and suggesting that members need to go to that domain. Instead they simply said to go to and they let the device detection software do the work of providing the correct version of the site. Happily, this device detection worked for my Palm Pre on webOS. Often, device detection fails for me and serves the desktop site to my Pre. They should have a link to their mobile site from their desktop site in case this didn’t work. (BTW, this is one of the most common mistakes I see in mobile web development.)

As you can see they developed a true mobile site that takes into account what mobile users would most likely need – search, locations and the ability to sign up for SMS offers all prominently featured. It is so important to remember that mobile users have different needs than desktop site visitors.

Next, their SMS campaign is also great because it opens up Costco mobile to ALL phones. Any phone can send and receive text messages. Having a text message campaign ensures that all Costco members with cell phones can interact with them via mobile.

Since I only signed up last week I have only received two messages from Costco – my welcome message and an alert that my new coupon book is active. I am very excited to see what I get on Cyber Monday. According to their ad in Costco Connection, it is sure to be something noteworthy. Maybe I will make my first mcommerce purchase at Costco’s mobile site. (I will let you know.)

One thing I wish they did differently is to use STOP as their opt out action word. Nobody else I have ever seen uses NOTEXT. First of all, businesses should stick with the standard terms to avoid confusion on the part of customers. At least they are putting it in every message. Secondly, it uses two extra characters. Don’t they need those characters to tell me all about the cool stuff they have for me to come get?

Thumbs up Costco! I’ll see you soon, in the store and on my phone.

While driving my daughter to school today I heard an awesome mobile campaign on the radio. It was a commercial for beef, as in “it’s what’s for dinner.”

The 30 second spot featured Matthew McConaughey talking about beef. If you’re a guy you may not appreciate how awesome his voice sounds, but trust me, it does.

[Listen to a commercial with Matthew's voice here Beef For Dinner Commercial. It's not the one with the mobile call to action, but you get the idea.]

So, he’s talking about how beef would be great for dinner and I’m starting to think that it might be – after all if it’s good enough for Matthew, it’s good enough for me and my family.

Just when I thought it couldn’t get any better – you know, a hotty voice helping me figure out one of my biggest dilemmas of a typical day (“What’s for dinner?”) a voice comes on to tell me that I can go to on my mobile phone for recipes and ideas.

Sweet, now I have a perfectly valid reason for posting a photo of Matthew McConaughey on my site. This is a Mobile in the Wild moment!

Unfortunately this is where the fun ends for me. I can’t make the mobile site come up on my Palm Pre. The device detection won’t allow me to access it and there is no specific mobile link for me to click. I am stuck with the full size site on my Pre.


While my phone certainly can access that full sized site, I am not likely to stand in a grocery store and pinch and squeeze my way around the site. I want the MOBILE site!

No matter how cute Matthew is I guess I won’t be finding a beef recipe on the site.

Always put a link from your desktop site to your mobile site. You have no idea when your device detection won’t offer up the site that your visitor actually wants.

As the 3G iPhone goes on sale around the world I find myself wondering what it will mean to the mobile web. Some think that it will make the mobile web obsolete – that everyone will now want full web access on their mobile devices. Others see that application development for iPhone that is the real story. Yet others are launching full scale mobile marketing campaigns exclusively for iPhone users.

Clearly, application development is chock full of potential. And, while I don’t think that businesses should ignore all other mobile device users, I do believe that mobile campaigns targeted exclusively to these users will likely succeed.

Without a doubt the iPhone has changed the way the world sees mobile Internet access. This wonderous device has opened the eyes of consumers and businesses alike that accessing the Internet via mobile is not only possible, but accessible.

What I wholeheartedly disagree with is the idea that the mobile web will be made obsolete by the iPhone.

First of all, no matter how wonderful the iPhone is (no disagreement on that point), it still only has a 3.5 inch diagonal display. Screen size makes a huge impact on usability. No matter how slick the browser is and how easy it is to zoom in on what you want, you can only see 3.5 inches of a website at a time.

If you don’t believe that this impacts usability, just imagine that right now as you are reading this article your computer monitor instantly shrunk to a 3.5 inch size. How would your Internet experience change? My bet is that you wouldn’t finish reading this article because it would take too long. Instead of being able to read it quickly, scanning several paragraphs at a time, you would be forced to consume it in small bite-size chunks which would slow you down considerably. That is just one example of how screen size changes usability.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that iPhone users won’t find it easier to access the full Internet via their phones. Of course they will. This device changes how easy it is to consume full-size websites, but it does not make it easy enough to abandon the idea of having a site specifically designed for mobile consumption. A site that offers what users need when they are mobile and access to more if they choose to consume it through their small device.

Another point to consider is that even if Apple sold 40 million units today (They won’t. Some analysts predict 40 million unit sales for all of 2009.) iPhone users are a small fraction of the total 3 billion user population. The rest of the mobile world is still accessing the Internet without all the whiz-bang features. Everyone else needs specifically mobile-accessible websites. Really.

Bottom line:
Businesses should offer a mobile-friendly website in addition to their main website. If they choose to also offer an iPhone specific site as well, that is icing on the cake. Just don’t forget the cake and only pass out the icing.

Related Posts:
Why the Mobile Web MUST Survive
Designing for the iPhone
How did the iPhone change the mobile industry?