As we enter the month highlighting romance, it is interesting to note that one of the closest relationships people have today is with their mobile device — judged by their constant proximity to it and the instant attention paid to it.
“With many indicators showing an approaching dominance of mobile Internet usage by business and retail consumers, there is an increasing urgency about having a mobile online presence,” says Kevin Hourigan, the president and CEO of Web design, Web development and Internet marketing agency Bayshore Solutions. “But, before a business jumps blindly onto the mobile bandwagon, there are key strategic factors to consider.”
Smart Business spoke with Hourigan about how to know when you’re ready for the mobile Web and how to best engage in it for your business.
What are the mobile trends that are important to businesses?
Recent industry studies show the extremely fast growth of users accessing the Web through a mobile device or smartphone. These studies say that mobile Internet users are projected to exceed desktop Internet users by 2014, one in five mobile users will watch video on a mobile device by 2013, and more than half of mobile users will be Web-enabled by 2013 (and that represents 40 percent of the U.S. population).
As more and more people are accessing the mobile Web, what are they doing there?
More studies reveal these types of mobile activities are gaining popularity:
- Looking for directions and locations
- Looking for coupons or promotions
- Price, availability and support comparisons
- Reading reviews about products, services and professionals of interest
- Utilizing the services or processes of a business (checking in for a flight or an online banking transaction, for example)
How do mobile trends affect a business?
This all goes back to Marketing 101: know your customer. If you deliver a product or service that a target customer might be looking for on their mobile device because they are away from their computer, can they find you or do they find your competitors? If they do find your company’s website, does your website’s appearance from a mobile device leave an impression you are proud to show to potential customers?
If your website can be found and seen from a mobile device, what are the most common questions and transactions (both informational and monetary) that your customers will have? If they attempted any of these while on a mobile device, what are their chances of success? Aligning your business’s availability and offerings with today’s mobile trends can have a major impact on its success.
Because our mobile culture increasingly pivots on instant access, answers and gratification, if your business cannot be found and deliver this, then potential customers will simply click to the next competitor who is ready at their fingertips.
When should I establish a mobile presence?
It is critical to first understand the amount of visits your website receives from mobile devices. Google Analytics can show you how much of your traffic is coming from mobile devices, what pages mobile visitors are viewing or attempting to view, and growth in this over time. Analytics will indicate that a mobile Web presence is warranted and what Web pages to spend the most attention on based on your mobile traffic. For some businesses this could be 40 percent, for others as little as 5 percent. If it appears your business would benefit from a mobile website, first make sure your core website’s analytics and strategies are in order. With that in place, it will lead to a coordinated, cost-effective extension into a successful mobile Web presence.
What are your top tips for achieving great mobile Web results?
The hallmark of a successful mobile Web presence is one that is easy — easy to find, easy to track and measure performance and results, and easy for visitors to experience. But, accomplishing all this is not so easy. Strategic elements in developing your mobile presence include:
- Solid integration with your analytics, CRM systems and marketing and sales lead management processes
- Search engine marketing that orchestrates your mobile website with your other online (and offline) channels
- Functionality that accurately understands and even anticipates your mobile visitor’s expectations and needs including making sure the mobile site works on the iPhone, iPad, Blackberry, Palm, Android, etc.
A business’s mobile site should not be the soup-to-nuts replication of its main website. In fact, Internet users have fundamentally distinct motivations, behaviors and expectations when accessing websites from a mobile device. Essentially your mobile site should help the mobile visitor get in and get to what they need while they’re on the go. Just a few items that support this would include:
- Skipping the flashy home page in favor of one-click access to the information or service the visitor needs
- Simplified copy and link activation to accommodate fingers versus a mouse, and a smaller screen surface
- Navigability back and forth to your main site to accommodate more detailed user needs.
- Location, map or driving directions that are immediately accessible.
- All phone numbers displayed have click-to-call functionality
Take a strategic approach to solidifying your core Web presence and extend to a mobile presence at the right time, for the right reasons and in the right way. This will yield a much more successful result in growing your business.