Your Customers Have Gone Mobile
To Remain Competitive, You Must Adjust Accordingly
Research shows that more than 50% of all cell phones are now smartphones. Add to that the growing number of people who own tablets, and it is estimated that mobile Internet users will exceed the number of desktop internet users by 2014.
The rapid rise in mobile technologies has dramatically changed the way that we communicate at work, at home, and while out and about, and business owners must adjust to this phenomenon.
We Love Our Smartphones
The majority of cell-phone purchases are now smartphones because they quickly become the preferred technology. Smartphones let you make phone calls, but what makes them so smart is that they have an operating system and can run software. This enables them to have features similar to those found on your computer, including web browsing, sending and receiving e-mail, and the abilities to open and read documents, take photos, listen to music, and watch videos.
Smartphones are getting faster at accessing the Internet and letting us view websites, engage in social media, download apps, and access driving directions via GPS. No wonder we love them.
Because mobile devices have become so convenient to use, they are now an integral part of our on-the-go lifestyle. That means many of your customers are trying to access your website on a mobile device. Most mobile devices will display your website correctly, but it will be incredibly tiny, and users will have to enlarge it and scroll from side to side to read the content. If you do not currently have a mobile-friendly website, now is the time to begin putting one in place.
Two Key Options
Options for having a mobile-friendly website include a mobile redirect or responsive web design. A mobile redirect can be accomplished in a variety of ways. Essentially, it redirects mobile users accessing your website to a separate website optimized just for mobile devices. In this case, you have two separate websites that need to be updated and maintained.
Another option is to make your website mobile-friendly by using responsive web design. Responsive web design uses fluid grids, CSS (the coding language for formatting and styling web content), and media queries to control how your website is displayed based on a device’s screen size. Responsive web design provides the advantage of just one website to update and manage versus having a separate mobile site to maintain.
Whatever method you choose, you should minimize the amount of information displayed on your mobile site by tailoring it to the needs of a mobile viewer. Consider what information your website visitors need when accessing your site while on the go. Some basics include business address, directions, an interactive map, hours of operation, and contact information. If you have a retail operation, then sales, special offers, and events should be easily visible to entice mobile web visitors to stop by.
According to Google, there has been a fivefold increase in mobile search over the last two years. Research also shows that more than half of all consumers use their smartphones to search for products even when they are at home and could use a desktop or laptop computer. This data emphasizes the need for a mobile-friendly website.
If someone searches for your business and finds you, they should be taken to a website designed for a mobile device. If you are investing money in paid search, and those searches are on mobile devices, you are wasting your money if those ads don’t lead to a mobile-friendly website.
Local on Mobile
Your customers are searching while they are out and about, looking for places, products, and special offers. Roughly 70% of searchers are looking for a local product or service, and more than 80% of people searching for local information will take action within a day. Mobile searchers have a need, and most often it is an immediate one.
I encourage you to register your website for local search. This will let you control the quality of your local search results, ensure the accuracy of the information, and help increase your search ranking. Here are several major search engines you can register with; some have a verification process by phone or mail.
Social on Mobile
Social media seems to be made for mobile, as it’s all about what we are doing right now and sharing that with our friends. About half of the people using social media do so on a mobile device. Mobile users log in more often and spend more time on social-media sites. Mobile devices nicely integrate social-media apps that make it easier to post on a mobile device than from your desktop.
For example, you can snap a photo with your phone and post it right to Facebook. Knowing how your customers use their mobile devices is important when developing social-media campaigns. Businesses need to start their planning with a mobile perspective and tailor their ideas accordingly.
Mobile commerce (m-commerce) is defined as consumers shopping and conducting other financial and promotional activities on their wireless, handheld devices. Browsing, shopping, and purchasing are increasingly done on mobile devices, and that trend continues to grow.
As the technology for online mobile shopping is improved and simplified, the shopping experience becomes easier and more convenient. Millions of American smartphone owners use apps for shopping, and even more use a retailer’s mobile website. It is clear that mobile shopping will continue to grow and your customers will be looking for this purchasing option.
Mobile devices also provide GPS and wi-fi technology that can determine where a user is located. This allows you to leverage that information and send real-time mobile offers that can drive people to your business and generate a purchase. As we continue to gather data on our customers, we can move toward using demographic, psychographic, and past-purchasing behavior combined with current event data to deliver highly customized messaging.
Not everyone likes the idea that their smartphone knows where they are, so you will need to communicate the value consumers can expect to receive from your geolocation programs and give them options on participation.
Develop Your Mobile
Reviewing the trends and technologies that are making your customers mobile reinforces the need to provide a mobile experience to your customers. The combination of a mobile-friendly website, local search, m-commerce, geolocation, and social media provides you with powerful ways to reach your customers and prospects while they are on the go.
Tina Stevens is principal and creative director at Stevens 470, a full-service, multi-channel marketing firm providing strategic marketing, print communication, and web development; stevens470.com