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Mobile Station Stories: Libby Peterek, KLRU

by Rachel Lim, PBS Station Products & Innovation

As part of the launch of the Mobile White Label Series for Stations (available in SRC, login required), we are profiling mobile efforts at stations throughout the system on a variety of topics, ranging from mobile giving to the differences between mobile Web and mobile apps. Over the next six weeks, these stations, who are part of the Station Mobile Working Group, share their experiences, plans, successes and lessons learned about mobile.

Libby Peterek
Libby Peterek is Director of Web Services at KLRU in Austin, Texas. KLRU has built a mobile Website that includes a TV Schedule, a Donate function, and Locate and Contact pages, as well as a link to their full Website. Visit their mobile site (http://klru.org) through your phone or tablet. You can also check out http://www.klru.org/mobile to see what they've built on your desktop screen.

Libby discusses why KLRU decided to build a mobile Website instead of an app, KLRU's experiment with mobile giving, and why entering the mobile space may be easier than you think.

1. What motivated you to pursue mobile, and how did you develop your initial mobile strategy?  
Mobile was one of those things that, for better or for worse, was a big buzz word. Our CEO was talking about apps, talking about mobile availability, and our developer realized it wasn’t that hard to make our site mobile. We considered doing an app, but we wanted our product to be cross platform and didn’t want to deal with Apple’s requirements and wait time, and then make another app for the Android.  So instead, we chose a few key functions from our site and simplified it – the process was pretty fast. We wanted to get something out quickly, and we thought about what people might want from our mobile Website, and since video isn’t an option right now (not technically, but realistically for us), we thought about what kinds of activities people were doing on their phones, and we looked at our analytics, viewing at our TV schedules was far and away the most popular activity. We also took the opportunity to make a schedule that was operating off an API to made it a little more nimble across platforms. We included a Locate button because we needed to consider what people needed from us on the go, and we’re located on the UT campus and it can be tricky to get to us sometimes.

Apps are kind of a big deal, with regards to time and cost. You should have something worthwhile to create it, like video, for example. And since PBS mobile app came out, it seemed a little silly to put in all the resources for our own application. A mobile site just made more sense, and it was really easy. We put it up in less than a week. 

2. What were your initial goals for mobile, and how have they changed over time? What kind of results have you seen so far, and how does it affect your future plans for mobile?
We haven’t revisited our mobile site in a little while, but our goal was mostly to have our TV schedule available on mobile, in an easier to read format. That was probably our number one. When video comes up [for mobile] things will change. Other than that, most people are using mobile to look at our schedule. We’ve also included a “go to full site” button at the bottom of our mobile browser, and we’re watching it to see if people go to the full site. So far nearly all visitors have stayed on the mobile version of the site. 

3. What tactics and techniques did you employ in your approach to mobile giving? What were the results? What are some challenges have you encountered and lessons have you learned about mobile giving?
I don’t have all the numbers, but I do know that the highest level donation from our mobile site was $500. There were a few promotional things our membership team dreamed up for mobile giving – the first fifty people to donate via our mobile site got tickets to see the Steve Miller band at an ACL performance. That particular giveaway was really confusing to a lot of people. We learned that mobile is not as ubiquitous as we thought, and depending on the audience member’s demographics, their age group, and their phone technology, the idea of mobile giving can be very confusing. For example, we had people donating through our web site thinking they were qualifying for the giveaway. It was interesting. It made us think about what would make someone give on the go, instead of going through an Internet browser. And the donation process needs to be easier. There isn’t an auto-fill option, and putting in your credit card number, your address, etc. is too complicated for a small screen. It needs to be something people already use – Paypal, for example, is a site that makes a lot more sense. It’s a lot simpler to put an email address and password than your full information.  

4. What do you know now that you wish you knew when you first approached mobile?
Probably the craziest thing about mobile is that everyone thinks it’s really hard – but it’s not. Going mobile is not about making your entire site mobile. It’s about making just the things that people want mobile, and it’s as simple as putting a piece of code on your website to redirect users with a particular screen size to your mobile site.

I would recommend seeing what else is out there, and thinking about what parts of your station website people would want to access from a small screen and when they are on the go. I don’t think a lot of people are thinking from that perspective.


Stay tuned for next week's edition of Mobile Station Stories, where we'll catch up with Thomas Broadus (AKA Tbro) at Mississippi Public Broadcasting.


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