The Relentless Rise of Mobile Browsing
Earlier this month, the BBC reported that PC sales have dropped for the fifth quarter in row ( http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-23251285). This should come as no surprise. At the end of the day, we can now achieve much more on a smartphone than we could ever do on a standard laptop or desktop just a few years ago.
It was predicted that the use of mobile devices would overtake traditional computers by mid 2014, but it appears that accelerating mobile and tablet sales have beaten the predictions.
So what does this mean for those of us responsible for marketing businesses, and particularly marketing them online?
Well, if you aren’t considering users of mobile devices in your marketing strategy, then you’ll need to get with the times quickly. At least some proportion – and for many businesses a significant proportion – of visits to your website will be from people using a mobile device. If you don’t know how many, then take a look at your web analytics account; for those of you using the very popular Google Analytics on your website, you can access specific reports and filters that show what proportion of your web visits originate from mobile devices.
The next question is: what does your website look like on a mobile phone? Fortunately for most businesses, probably not all that bad – but is it actually easy to use? Some of the latest smartphones feature screen resolutions that dwarf conventional PC monitors, so the image renders beautifully but key features like buttons and links can be worryingly small. Can people find what they are looking for easily? Are they even looking for what you think they’re looking for when they access your website from a mobile phone?
To put things in perspective, well over 50% of Facebook’s monthly visits are from mobile phones and devices.
From our experience, mobile devices and particularly mobile phones are used at the research stage of the buying process. It will be the device that we have instant access to in our downtime, be that waiting for a meeting or relaxing in front of the TV. If you’ve got research to do and an internet connection – why not make use of that time? That’s what people do. The phone or tablet is up and running immediately, a far more appealing prospect for a couple of minutes’ impulsive browsing than waiting for your desktop or laptop to boot up.
So often we see retailers looking at the lower conversion rates on mobile devices and thinking that they don’t need to spend the time and effort here. The correlation between an eventual sale and the initial research that led to it is difficult to measure. Using myself as an example, I will often browse on my mobile during a few spare moments, then choose to purchase online later from the comfort of the PC on my desk. So the question is: what’s the reward going to be by expending the effort? In my view, you’ll get an increase in sales, as well as highly valuable sales at the moment of impulse, rather than losing the sale as the impulsive momentum fades.
So is it just retail businesses that need to focus on mobile? If you are marketing to other businesses what is a new customer worth to you in year? How many potential customers could potentially be researching your service while they are waiting for a meeting or grabbing their morning coffee?
What’s more, your website will be rewarded by Google with better positions in mobile searches rankings if your website is well optimised for mobile devices. So if search engine visits are important in your marketing – it’s a great way to get a few more.
Planning your mobile marketing doesn’t need to be complicated but there are a number of things to consider. One question we often get asked is “Should we develop an app?” – it’s a good question. It really depends on the business objectives and your budget. However, if your website isn’t mobile friendly, I’d always recommend starting there.
The next question is “Should our site be responsive?” Responsive web design means different things to different people. The most important thing is to ensure that your website is easy to use on a mobile phone, and that means things like buttons and navigation items work properly and are selectable using touch. You’ll also need to make sure that forms are easy to fill in and are as concise as possible on mobile devices. However you implement your mobile website, you’ll also need to make sure that SEO is covered correctly, so that it helps your SEO rather than hindering it.
At LexisClick, all the new websites that we are proposing to clients are mobile friendly. It really has to be that way. Clients can theoretically opt out of having a mobile friendly website, but for all the reasons I’ve mentioned above, there is very little reason why you wouldn’t want your website to be as usable as possible on a mobile device. And for many businesses, they probably want to start their strategic web thinking with mobiles in mind.