Why Your Website Needs To Be Mobile Right Now
Part 2 of the Getting Your Business Mobile-Ready series
From researching products, to conducting transactions, to sharing a product reviews with their social network, people rely on their mobile devices to access information and make the right decisions. It's therefore imperative to model your mobile channel to match the requirements of your target audience and meet their demands for information about your business or service.
But delivering your customers — and potential customers — a great experience on mobile doesn’t necessarily require you to invest in an all-singing, all-dancing mobile app to do it. In many cases, a mobile website is the right approach.
Mobile Website or Mobile App?
Which do you choose? To help you make this business-critical decision I cover the pros and cons of each in my book, The Everything Guide To Mobile Apps: A practical guide to affordable mobile app development for your business (F+W Media Inc., 2013).
Your choice really depends on your answers to some key questions:
- What you are looking to achieve?
- How much money you have to invest?
- How often you need to add new features and update your service?
- How loyal are your typical customers?
- How do you plan to win new customers?
Simply put, mobile apps offer advantages such as their ability to use features of the mobile device and to store larger levels of content for viewing offline. But they also have their downside. For example, apps must be developed for individual devices and operating systems, requiring ongoing work and effort which in many cases makes them more expensive to make and maintain than a mobile optimized website. (More on mobile apps in part 3 of this series.)
Mobile apps can also limit your reach. Apple iPhone owners can only download and install apps from the iTunes store. Likewise, Android device owners can only download and install apps they download from Android marketplaces such as Google Play. If you want to reach a broad base of customers, regardless of the make or model of their mobile device, then a website is a wise choice.
You reach a larger cross-section of your audience because the website content can be viewed through a multitude of web browsers (Chrome, Safari, Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Dolphin, Opera — and the list goes on!) on a wide range of smartphones. (Note: Responsive web design and mobile-optimized websites are key aspects of building an effective mobile presence that I will cover later in this series.)
In view of these shortcomings and costs, my take is: you can choose to have a mobile app, but you must have a mobile website. A mobile website is the practical and effective first step to reach all your customers — across all devices.
But don't stop there.
A mobile website — which in it's most basic form is simply your existing online website— is not fit with what your customers need on their mobile device while on the move. Your website, which can be accessed on a mobile device, was most likely designed and formatted for a desktop computer screen where a full keyboard and a large screen make browsing and scanning a breeze.
What's more, the customer is in a 'lean-back' mode where time and patience are not scarce.
On mobile it's a different story.
Generally speaking, users are in ‘sit-forward’ mode. They are on their mobile device to get something done — fast: research products or services on the spot, get directions, check traffic, connect with social networks. The list goes on.
Getting Mobile Right
Having a mobile website presence allows your business to be agile and cost effective. It removes the friction — and the barriers — between you and your customers, thus allowing you to acquire more customers and — ultimately — increase sales provided you get mobile right.
But this doesn't just mean making sure your information is accessible via a mobile device. It means delivering a customer experience that meets the requirements of time-crunched consumers and customers for simplicity, speed and immediate interaction. (For example, allowing people to do what they want, when they want it and how they want it — like clicking to call a business or check the status of an order.)
This is why it is important to optimize your website for mobile.
A mobile-optimized website is not just your normal website scrunched down onto the screen of a mobile device. It is a separate 'mobile-first' version of your website designed and formatted with mobile in mind.
This is a website that has been stripped down to the basics. The columns of text and dozens of images that may have made your desktop website an interesting read have been stripped back to the basics. It's all about providing your customers the information and communication capabilities they need to 'get stuff done' without having to zoom in to read text or leave the page to make a call from the website.
As a rule, you want to simplify and scale down the elements of your desktop website presence to fit the mobile format. And for good reason. Keeping the file size and load times down means that your site will load better and faster.
Studies show that half of mobile users abandon a page if it doesn’t load in 10 seconds, and three out of five won’t return to the site. Amazon recently calculated that a page load slowdown of just one second could cost it $1.6 billion in sales each year. The impact of a poor customer experience is indisputable.
In fact, a negative experience on a mobile website not optimized for mobile may not only cost you a customer. It could mark your reputation.
Today's consumers — empowered and connected — will often use social media to broadcast their bad experience with your brand. It is 'word-of-mouth' advertising you want to avoid at all costs — by making the right choices.
The next article in the series will deep-dive into what you need to cover to deliver your customers a mobile optimized website, laying the groundwork for a mobile presence that makes a positive statement about your business and has a positive impact on your bottom line.
Peggy Anne Salz, named a Top 30 Mobile Marketing Influencer, is the chief analyst and founder of MobileGroove, a top 50 ranked destination providing custom research, strategic consulting and Thought Leadership content for the global mobile industry.
Peggy has written 300+ articles on mobile marketing, mobile search, social media and mobile industry news and developments, and nine books about mobile, both as a lead author and in partnership with global companies.
Note: Ideas and concepts shared here are those of the author and not necessarily shared by or endorsed by YP℠.