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It wasn’t that many years ago that both people and organizations craved higher and higher fidelity: 7.1 Dolby Digital sound, Ultra High Definition TV screens, and so on. Today though, mobile (and digital) is driving size in the other direction: smaller.

An unintended consequence, however, is that the fidelity of the user experience has also dramatically shifted downwards:

  • Mobile phone operators are cramming ever more signal into the airwaves, resulting in ever-poorer voice quality.
  • Watching video on mobile is also a low-resolution experience: the picture is often both jerky and fuzzy. And since the earbud experience in a noisy area is definitely not the home theatre experience, the audio is equally lacking.
  • Many organizations have moved to Voice Over IP (VOIP) phone systems.  While far cheaper than traditional phone systems, VOIP fidelity is 100% dependent on available internet bandwidth, and a perfectly paved internet pathway between the sender and receiver.  In many cases, this means a choppy and low fidelity connection.

As society moves more towards mobile, and organizations move more towards driving down costs, there is an inflection point that is too often missed: At what point does a low fidelity experience impact the brand?  Or said another way: is the investment in marketing and training being undermined by the user experience over the phone?

Sadly, the answer is yes, and it is going to get worse.  While it is difficult to get around this problem, there are some things that can be done to minimize the impact:


  • Produce videos with a “mobile-first” mindset.
  • Host videos in multiple resolutions (YouTube does this automatically), so if bandwidth allows, better fidelity is possible.
  • Use the “most popular” cell phone operator within your geography.  There may be less compression if more bandwidth is available; also compression is worse when the two parties use two different operators.


  • Ensure adequate internet bandwidth that is specifically segregated for VOIP phones.
  • Purchase HD Voice phonesets for VOIP systems.
  • Insist on voice quality service level agreements with the VOIP provider.

This week’s action plan: Trust, but verify. This week, put yourself in the shoes of your target audiences, and test-drive your mobile and VOIP experience. And don’t just rely on yourself: ask your front line staff if there is a problem. Don’t let low-fidelity technology get in the way of your brand.

Note: The Make It Happen Tipsheet is also available by email. Go to to register.

Randall Craig

@RandallCraig (follow me)
:  Professional credentials site
.com: Web strategy, technology, and development
:  Interviews with the nation’s thought-leaders



What have been the most transformational marketing innovations in society?  TV and Direct mail/database marketing rank up there.  Email, the web, and social media also do.  And so does mobile – but why?

It is too easy to think of mobile as nothing more than a small screen.  Web designers and developers work hard to ensure that their sites are responsive – a web design that automatically reformats itself for the desktop, tablet, or cell phone screen.  And then the effort stops.

Mobile is unique not because of the screen size, but because it keys into two critical marketing triggers: location and urgency. Yes, it is true that a flyer outside a retailer’s shop meets these criteria, but the flyer is a one-way broadcast. There is no interaction, there is no user identification and there is no tracking.  And because of this, there is no “big data” that can later be mined to encourage a later transaction.

While the possibilities for mobile marketing range from text, to location-based emails, to location-based social sharing, to who-knows-what, there are several principles that are critical for mobile marketing using the web, whether it is a mobile app, or a mobile-responsive website:

1) The principle of location Because a user is only using the mobile when they are either looking for something, or they have already arrived, the device needs to take this into account.  Directions “from here”, the local location’s phone number, the currency, local spellings, and local-only deals should be front-and-center.

2) The principle of just-in-time:  If someone is checking their smart phone, it is likely because they are in the midst of a specific customer journey.  Yet once they leave the location, the likelihood of them transacting quickly diminishes.  Time-bound deals and up-to-the-minute dynamic content are urgency triggers, and a powerful call to action.

3) The principle of simplicity:  Most mobile sites have the exact content as the main site, but accessed through a revised navigational structure.  It is far less likely that a user will use their smartphone to drill into the depths of your site to read several pages online.  Strip away the less relevant, and give the user what they need up front: drive them to action.  If the site is 80% less complex, you’ll have that much more activity.

This week’s action plan:  Take a look at your website, but do it from your smartphone.  Does it take into account your geographic location?  The principle of Just-in-time?  Simplicity? If not, perhaps you should build a new mobile site… into this year’s marketing plan.

Note: The Make It Happen Tipsheet is also available by email. Go to to register.

Randall Craig

@RandallCraig (follow me)
:  Professional credentials site
.com: Web strategy, technology, and development
:  Interviews with the nation’s thought-leaders


Mobile site or Mobile App?

by Randall Craig November 28, 2014

At a certain point, every organization will ask the question about whether or not they need an App.  Putting aside whether there is a bona fide reason for investing in an app or not, there is a second related question that always gets asked: if we have a mobile (eg responsive) website, do we actually […]

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