by Christian Arno
Walk into a coffee shop, elevator or dentist’s office, and the chances are people will be tapping away on their smartphones. Whether we’re looking for directions or keeping up with celebrity gossip, they’ve become an inseparable part of most people’s daily lives and mobile marketing is a fantastic opportunity for small businesses, given that mobile devices are also changing the way we shop and do business.Why wait till you get home to book your flight or compare prices, when you can instantly do it on your phone?
Mobile commerce is growing rapidly, and is expected to account for 15 per cent of all online sales in the USA by the end of 2013 (according to Emarketer). And four in five smartphone owners use them for online shopping. For small business owners, there are big benefits to reaching customers on the move. But many are still losing out by not giving them what they want. A Google survey found that the most common things searchers look for are directions, opening hours, product information and prices, and making appointments. Click-to-call buttons and the ability to save information are high on their wish lists.
At the same time, sites that take more than five seconds to load, or information that’s more than a click or two away makes users switch off — and most of them don’t come back. More than half of customers said a poor mobile experience would hurt their perception of a company, and 61 per cent move to another site if they couldn’t find the information they want straight away. Most small businesses with an online presence will already know the power of search marketing. This is one more vital reason for a well-optimized mobile site. Google recently announced that it will soon be penalizing sites that aren’t “mobile-friendly.” They highlighted common mistakes in small screen marketing, such as unplayable videos, faulty redirects, URLs that result in error messages to smartphone users, and slow loading speeds. So how can small businesses avoid some of the pitfalls — and most importantly, convert those browsers into customers? Check out my two-part series and you'll be well on your way to making your small business site responsive.
Do make sure your site is optimized for the most popular devices
Small screens mean a re-think of most aspects of site design. Cutting down text and images, and creating an uncluttered look, is a good start. Text should be in a single column, and Flash is best avoided as it’s not supported by iPhones. Responsive web design is a growing trend, and entails creating sites with flexible images and grids that can be adapted to the viewer’s screen. This doesn’t have to be difficult — if you use a content management system (CMS) such as WordPress, it may already have built-in mobile optimization. And don’t forget to test it — ask as many friends and colleagues as possible to help you check that it displays well across a wide range of devices! Your mobile site shouldn’t just be a scaled down copy of your main site. Consider what users are most likely to be looking for, whether that’s making a last-minute appointment or finding directions to your store, and make sure they’re less than two clicks away.
Don’t forget that mobile doesn’t just mean phones
Tablet sales are soaring, and they account for a growing proportion of online sales. In fact, many researchers predict they will outsell laptop computers in 2013. The best solution is an adaptable site that displays equally well on both tablets and mobile devices. Once you’ve got your mobile-friendly site up and running, you’re well on your way to attracting the growing numbers of customers who are shopping on the move. In my next post, I’ll discuss more tips for successful mobile marketing.
Christian Arno is founder and CEO of the global translation agency, Lingo24. Originally a home-based start-up, it now has hubs on four continents, a network of 4000 translators, and translates 65 million words a year. Clients include American Express, the UN, Bloomberg, MTV, and a wealth of small businesses. Lingo24 made The Times International Track 100 in 2011. Christian has won numerous awards including HSBC Business Thinking and HSBC International Trade Awards (2010). He advises numerous companies on all aspects of overseas marketing, including social media, and contributes to leading industry publications.