You simply cannot walk down the street today without seeing people on their cell phones. You cannot walk into a coffee shop or library or even a doctor’s office without seeing people typing away on their laptops or browsing the Internet on their iPads, tablets, and assorted other mobile devices. Mobile Internet use is here to stay, and it’s growing exponentially each year in both number of users and amount of time spent online per mobile user. For business owners, this adds another layer of competition, as marketing messages must not only be available online, but they must be properly formatted for consumers to access these emails, Internet marketing campaigns, and websites on mobile devices. That’s called Mobile Optimization, and it’s a major trend in today’s marketing conversation.
We all know the importance of having a well formatted, attractive, easily navigable website. But how your website looks on a desktop or laptop is only part of today’s picture. Now, your website must work well on a tablet and even a little iPhone. If your content-packed website is being viewed on a 9.7” (diagonal measure) iPad, it may still look ok, but users will have to pinch and zoom to do more than look at your home page. Shrunk down further to fit onto a 5×7 centimeter iPhone screen, it’s nearly impossible for a user to interact with your website unless it’s been optimized for mobile use.
Imagine you’ve sent out a well thought-out, high impact direct email blast. If a significant proportion of your recipients are accessing that data via a mobile device (and considering that research estimates that mobile Internet usage will completely eclipse desktop usage in the next 18 months, the odds are many of them are doing just that), and they click through to your site, they need to be able to easily interact with your business.
This is where mobile optimization comes in, via apps, mobile-optimized, or mobile-friendly sites. Apps, of course, are stand-alone downloads, and if you’re able to get your site users to download and use the apps, you have a great deal of control over how your content is presented to them. Mobile-optimized sites are often very similar in look and feel to apps, as they are versions of your website that function in minimal visual space. Lastly, some choose a mobile-friendly approach, which is more appropriate for content-focused sites rather than sales-oriented sites. This method uses plugins to simply strip away nearly all extraneous detail from your site and present the content in a very easy-to-read format.
Take, for instance, Pinterest, that newest and most explosive of social media giants. West Elm is one of Pinterest’s biggest success stories. Here’s an image of the West Elm Pinterest page on a laptop, and another taken from an iPhone via the Pinterest app.
All of the same information is available, but just in a slightly different format, one that enables the mobile user to interact with the content in a way that simply would not be possible if the desktop version of this Pinterest page were simply opened in a browser on a mobile device. In this case, an app is the best way to go because of Pinterest’s exceedingly high user volume. However, for smaller businesses, apps are not always the answer: mobile site optimization is.
Amazon is a great example of mobile site optimization. Grab your iPhone and head to Amazon.com on your Safari or other browser, and Amazon will automatically redirect you to their mobile site, which operates by condensing their browsing functions into a simplified list of pull-down menus, sized just right for mobile browsing. Without even downloading an app (although one is available), users can easily access all of Amazon’s key functionality on the smallest mobile device, and this helps engagement and thus their bottom line. In fact, research shows that a site optimized for mobile use can ramp up user engagement by up to 85%.
Taking the time to review your website with your web development team and consider mobile optimization is time and money well spent. Consider that, “on average, website visitors are 51%…more likely to do business with an online retailer if it has a mobile site (U.S.).” You’ve invested in your marketing campaigns – be they Google PPC ads or Constant Contact emails – now it’s time to make sure your site is properly accessible when those click-throughs start coming in. Not sure where to start? Stay tuned to the TribalVision blog for more info on mobile site optimization, and give us a call for a free consultation to see what TribalVision’s mobile optimization experts can do for you.