Why Make Your Site Mobile Friendly?
Progress cannot be stopped. This is a fact. It is unstoppable in virtually all areas of the modern world. How many of us could have known just ten short years ago, just how vitally important the internet would be in our day to day lives? How many of us could have known that a business would no longer be able to rely on an ad in their local phone book, or in their local newspaper to drive that all important new customer, client or patient to the front door? The internet has changed the paradigm forever.
Progress really cannot be stopped. How many of us could have known just five years ago that it would be not only easier, but more productive to access the internet via our cell phones? That time has come. That time is now.
The "Mobile Revolution"
It has been apparent for some time now that the "Mobile Revolution" is on. Consumers can use mobile devices to interact with businesses from anywhere, anytime. Mobile now accounts for 12% of all global internet traffic, but what about the traffic to local businesses? The mobilized shopper of today is impacting merchants, retailers and other businesses in ways never seen before. The playing field has definitely shifted in favor of the informed consumer who totally expects to find what they are looking for when they want it .. right now. For the local business owner to be competitive, they must be mindful of some current consumer facts:
- 94% of smartphone users have searched for local information
- 70% called a business after searching
- 66% visited in person
- 90% of these users acted within 24 hours
Access to mobile information has to be incredibly user friendly for the mobile devices of today. Smartphone users in general favor browsers over apps, (48% vs. 26%) with iPhone users being the most likely to use apps (40% vs. 36%). To effectively reach the broadest shopping base, the business should really utilize both options.
Most Companies probably DON'T have a mobile website.
While this may not have been a big problem even last year, it's quickly becoming extremely important to have a functional mobile version of their website ready for their customers.
More than half of U.S. consumers own a smartphone.
It's hard to believe that the first iPhone was released only a few years ago. In the short time since 2007, smartphones have become a fixture in American culture. Since it's not 2007 anymore, you can't ignore the fact that more people have smartphones than feature phones, (basically any phone that isn't an iPhone, BlackBerry, Windows phone or Android), and they're using those smartphones to browse the internet. This trend has been predicted for years, but as of March 2012, THE MAJORITY OF AMERICANS NOW HAVE A SMARTPHONE.
The next time you're waiting for something somewhere, maybe you're waiting to be seated at a restaurant, or waiting in the checkout line at the grocery store, take a good look around. Take note of how many people are passing the time by using their smartphones. Maybe they're browsing the internet, reading the news or just texting. This will help you realize just how widespread the use of mobile devices are today, and further, just how vitally important it is for your prospects and customers to have a mobile optimized website.
Think about a restaurant or a local business that provides entertainment. You should know that a large portion of the keywords in that category, (21% of the total), are searched MORE FROM MOBILE DEVICES THAN DESKTOPS OR LAPTOPS. This includes the "high funnel keywords", ("restaurant", "restaurants", "bars", "fast food"). According to Google search volumes, 88% of the total search volume for the keyword "restaurants" comes from mobile devices, and 97% of the total volume for "bars" comes from mobile devices. Ironically, according to a recent Restaurant Sciences industry study, 95% of independent restaurants DO NOT HAVE A MOBILE WEBSITE! Only about HALF OF CHAIN RESTAURANTS HAVE SOME SORT OF MOBILE SITE.
Mobile users expect a simplified and quick loading browsing experience.
While modern smartphones can render full websites, (with the exception of Flash on many smartphones), mobile users expect to see a site that loads quickly, is easily navigable, (without having to "pinch zoom") and contains sections and functionality pertinent and unique to mobile users.
When we look at the top two hundred queries for desktop versus the top two hundred queries that have more mobile volume than desktop volume, we start to get a sense of what mobile searchers in the category need .. and it's NOT the same as what desktop searchers are looking for.
Desktop searchers are mostly looking for coupons, menus, locations and specific names of restaurants, (McDonalds, TGI Fridays etc.). Additionally, they are putting in geomodifiers like Pittsburgh, Phoenix or Miami to find a location in a specific area. However, when we look at a visualization of mobile search queries, we see a much different story. Where mobile searchers are mostly not looking for coupons in this category, they are looking for menus, but much less so than they are for locations, which is the most repeated word in the query list by far. Additionally, mobile searchers are not putting in specific locations, but expect the search engine to find the location nearest their current location. Beyond that, mobile searchers are looking for hours and phone numbers more with the mobile site.
This is consistent with recent Google smartphone research, which found that 94% of US based smartphone users look for local information on their phone, and 90% take action as a result making a purchase or contacting the business.
If you are a restaurant or a bar for example, you don't necessarily want to present printable coupons or job applications or Flash animation about the location on your mobile site. There's a very good chance that the mobile searcher is just looking for a phone number, directions or hours of operation. The mobile searcher has much different goals than the desktop user, and if your customer tries to serve them the same experience as is displayed on the desktop site, it's just going to slow down the mobile users experience and make it more difficult for the mobile user to achieve their goals.
We know what the mobile searchers are looking for, and it's generally not what the desktop searchers want. Without a proper mobile website, you're losing a significant audience. That will always translate into poor or slower growth!
Here are a few benefits of a properly optimized mobile website:
- Becoming part of a rapidly growing market. Cellular phones are smart and getting smarter. The number of internet capable phones is growing by MILLIONS daily...
- Brand visibility increases with a well-designed mobile website. It puts your brand in front of your consumers on YOUR terms and YOUR time.
- Staying ahead of the competition is a huge benefit. The number of mobile sites is growing so rapidly that analysts predict that mobile sites will get more traffic than desktop sites by the end of 2013.
- Mobile websites blaze the trail. Because mobile websites can be viewed "on the go", smartphone users see Companies with properly optimized mobile websites as ahead of the curve. In fact, a mobile website can lead to desktop traffic as users switch from mobile to desktop sites to "get the whole picture". Companies with mobile websites are instantly believed to be farsighted and expansive.
- Companies with mobile websites see a rise in repeat visits. Mobile users want information "ondemand". Smartphones give them that instant gratification. Companies without a mobile website are losing that particular consumer pool. With a mobile website, users can find the information they are looking for UP TO SIX TIMES FASTER THAN THEY CAN ON A DESKTOP WEBSITE. Mobile users prefer a good user experience and functionality to pure aesthetics.
- Mobile websites increase traffic! Adding a mobile website to your web presence comes with a substantial rise in visitors. Recent research shows that adding a mobile website increases traffic to a company's internet presence by 13%!
In today's hyper-connected economy, there is no reason for consumers to be lacking information on any purchase decision. In fact, 93% of all buying decisions start with an online search! A key fact that has a tremendous impact on local merchants and businesses is just how mobile the consumer has become. Searches on mobile devices have grown tremendously and today, OVER 50% OF ALL LOCAL SEARCHES ARE DONE ON A MOBILE DEVICE. Consumers that use smartphones conduct local searches nearly twice as much, (61% vs. 32%), as general mobile phone users. With 55% year after year growth, smartphone penetration has dramatically accelerated over the past two years, signaling future increases in local searches conducted from mobile devices. This is great news for local businesses that are ranking high on searches, as their customer is ready to buy. However, there is always a middle step that customers will take, and that is to click through to the businesses' website. Once a potential customer gets to the website, they expect a positive and easy to navigate experience.
Here is what they will likely do when they get there:
- Get directions and operating hours - 74%
- Contact the store - 64%
- Find product information - 61%
- Make a purchase or order a service - 50%
Recently, shoppers surveyed were more likely to access the website of the store they were actually in, than a competitor's website. This means that retailers need to not only be concerned with how their pricing stacks up against their competitors, but also with how their mobile presence compares to the competition. The business owner must understand just how important and critical the digital first impression is to their mobile customers.
The mobile optimization guidelines which should be followed at all costs.
Keep it simple. Regardless of how much content a desktop website contains, no mobile user wants to be bombarded with an overwhelming amount of data on a small screen. Mobile users "on the go" do not want to scroll, expand the screen or have to squint their eyes... especially when they are in transit and may have only one hand available.
Think fast. Mobile users insist on a faster, more streamlined experience since they are using a mobile device. With the possible exception of some tablet owners, most mobile users won't be sitting around at home browsing the internet on their mobile device. They will typically be "on the go" and need quick solutions. They expect key features and only the most relevant content. Mobile users want immediate gratification. We must think about the mobile customers... specific needs and anticipate what they would need to have access to in order to enjoy their mobile experience.
Load time. Slow load time deters most mobile users from accessing a website. Latency, the measure of time delay, is a huge conversion killer in the mobile world. Load time is so important in fact, that Google uses it as one of their ranking factors. When a website is properly prioritized for what a mobile user needs and wants, the remaining content of the desktop website must be "ruthlessly omitted", not only to guarantee that the mobile user is exposed to the relevant content on their mobile device, but also to help speed up the mobile website.
Optimize the content for local searches. More than one out of every three mobile searches involves a location based business. Local businesses must be able to reach those potential new customers, clients or patients. Mobile users should have "one tap calling" options, and should also have access to a map and directions to the business for which they are searching.
Allow important elements to stand out. On the mobile optimized website, important elements must be easy to click with single tap buttons or horizontal bars. The graphics must be kept simple and colors should be used to separate sections for ease of navigation and to call attention to the desired sections of the site.
Utilize "white space". On a typical desktop website, the natural tendency is to cram as much information in as possible. The opposite must be true for a mobile website. Not only does white space give a cleaner, more sophisticated appearance, it also ensures that the mobile user is able to easily tap the button that they are aiming for on the mobile device.
Avoid Flash or Java. The obvious reason to avoid Flash is that Apple products do not support Flash, and have on many occasions, declared that they have no intention of doing so in the future. Because iPhones make up almost 40% of the smartphone market, a very significant portion of the audience may not be able to access the content if Flash is used. Similarly, many smartphones do not support Java, and even if they do, using Java can be a huge, unnecessary drain on load time.
According to the 2012 Restaurant Internet Marketing Study, published by Restaurant Sciences, a provider of restaurant industry data and analytics, "the next step in optimizing online presence is the establishment of a mobile website". Google reported that 64% of consumers searched for restaurants from their mobile devices over Valentine's weekend, 2012. The study showed that national chains are light years ahead of the independents, with only about one out of eight full service restaurant chains having a mobile website. The numbers are even more dismal for independent restaurants, with only about one out of twenty utilizing a mobile optimized site. What makes this statistic especially shocking is that according to some studies and reports, half of all visits to restaurant websites are from mobile devices.
Time to take action!
So what can you do as a business owner? Simply take advantage of the ICANetwork GoMobile Website Conversion service! Give us your website and we'll take it from there! Completely turn-key. And, most sites can be converted for one low price! Get started now!