Friday, April 6, 2012

Why Your Business Needs a Mobile Website

While we anecdotally know that people are using smartphones more than ever these days there is real data that supports it. Studies have predicted that by 2014, more people will use mobile phones than PCs to get online.  If your business is just starting to develop a mobile strategy or if you are debating where to spend resources in your current strategy, here are some compelling reasons to continue to invest in the mobile web.

People search on mobile web, not in the app store.

We don't go to the app store looking for information.  We go there to find something specific- a game, a productivity tool, a mobile version of a service we are already using offline or in the desktop world.  We go to our browsers to do research and gather information. That coupled with our new behaviors means that people are more likely to be looking for your products and services on a mobile browser. 

If you have a mobile website, your site search feature should be considered one of the most if not THE most important feature.  It must be fast, contextual, and simple to use. Here are some interesting stats from a 2011mobile search study:
  • People used mobile search at home in the evening (81%) than any other time or places more frequently than anywhere else (81%), followed by at home on weekends (80%).
  • 66% use mobile search while while watching TV, something which should get advertisers thinking, while 61% said they use it at work.
  • 75% said mobile search makes their lives easier, 63% said access to mobile search has changed the way they gather information, and 32% said they use mobile search more than search engines on their computers. 
  • 84% use mobile search to look for information on local retailers, such as opening hours, address and contact details. 82% look for online retailers, 73% find a specific product or manufacturer website. 
  • Something which ties in with the crossover in TV viewing and mobile search is that 71% learn more about a product or service having seen an ad, 68% use it to find the best price for a product.

Consumer behaviorshave changed.
We are always on our phones.  When we have downtime, when we are in the middle of another activity, first thing in the morning, last thing before we fall asleep. With 66% of people using their smartphones while watching TV coupled with the results from an Internet Retailer study about what people are buying from their mobile devices (see below),  you could have some pretty compelling conversion rates between TV advertising and purchases.
A recent survey of 1,500 US adults at the 2011 Internet Retailer Conference Exhibition revealed mobile shoppers’ most common purchases broken down by percentage:

   16% bought apparel
   15% bought food and beverages
   11% bought toys and games
   8% bought home goods
   4% bought sporting goods
   3% bought jewelry
   8% bought all other product

Our fancy phones have also made us lazy.  We are more likely to make a purchase using the device already in our pocket than taking the effort involved to go to and boot up our desktop computer.  I can honestly say that I've made more mobile purchases in the last 6 months than from my desktop computer.  My drivers for mobile purchases are time & convenience.  With a 3 yr. old, a newborn, and a full-time career, the best time for me to shop is whenever I can steal a few minutes during my busy day - waiting in line, my train commute, in bed...
If you don't have a mobile site, or if your site is less than desirable, you will probably loose a potential customer.

People are going to try to find you via a mobile browser whether or not you are ready to be found. If you haven't put a mobile web version of your site out there yet, your desktop site will be rendered.  While chances are the site will load (if your site is flash based, forget reaching the millions of worldwide iPhone users) the user experience will suffer.  The mobile screen dimensions will require a lot of pinching and zooming to make the basic functions of your site useable.  Statistics show that a potential customer is more likely to seek out competitor with a mobile site than suffer through a poor mobile experience.  

Similarly, if your existing mobile website is difficult to use and slow, people will abandon it. Don't forget the best practices of mobile design - keep it simple and task oriented, design navigation for the thumb, keep the code lightweight and fast, use all the available phone senses (i.e. GPS, the camera) to make search fast and rewarding.

What are some mobile websites that you frequently use?