You need a mobile Web site. And you know that you do. You’ve been hearing everywhere that THIS is finally the year for mobile. And now that it’s upon us and that mobile phones are outnumbering computers, how do you make sure you’re getting the most from it? What do you need to ask yourself when prepping for that mobile site?
Here’s where I’d start as a small business owner.
Does the site render?
This is a good place to start – does your site even render on a mobile device? You’d be surprised how many small business owners simply assume it will and never think to check. If that’s you, then you may unknowingly be leaving customers out in the cold when they try to bring up your site on a mobile device and find it doesn’t load. Or that the navigation doesn’t work. Or maybe your images are messing with the formatting. With so many people using phones to search in today’s environment you can’t afford to guess anymore. You need to be absolutely sure that your site is rendering on mobile, and if it’s not you need to take immediate steps to fix it.
If you’re not sure whether or not your site works on a mobile device, there are a number of mobile emulators you can use to find out. Do it.
Is the site well-optimized for mobile search?
While there’s certainly lots of overlap, mobile search relies on a different algorithm than “normal” search does. That means there’s an opportunity to specifically optimize your site for a mobile viewing experience. For example, being conscious of page size, not overusing images, including a mobile sitemap, employing certain doc types, etc are all important mobile ranking factors and things SMB owners should be aware of. Mobile search may still be the new kid on the market, but it’s growing. And as a small business owner you should know that it’s especially growing on location searches. Last year The Kelsey Group predicted a 130.5% growth rate for local mobile search and an 81.2% growth for overall mobile ad revenues by 2013. You can either get in on that now or you can wait for your competitors to catch up. Taking the steps to ensure that your site not only renders, but that it’s optimized for mobile, will give you a big leg up on the competition.
Google Mobile Optimizer, MoFuse, and MOBIFY are great tools to help you easily create a mobile version of your Web site.
What are your customers looking for?
Don’t simply assume that a mobile visitor has the same needs and wants as a traditional desktop user – because it’s likely they don’t. While someone accessing your site from their desktop may be interested in reading multi-page articles and scanning your whole site for content, someone on a mobile device probably just wants the headlines. They want the sound bytes, the scores, your location information, your hours, etc. They’re searchers on a mission. You want to find out what exactly their goal is and then customize an experience specifically for them.
If you’re not sure what your most popular links are when accessed from a mobile device, your analytics can tell you. Simply segment your data so that you’re looking only at what people do if they’re coming in from a mobile device. Once you know what your customers are after, you can serve them with only the information they want. Getting the kitchen sink is nice…until you have to wait for it to load.
What devices are they using?
You also want to know what devices visitors are using when they go to search online. Knowing this will allow you to create a better experience based on the size of the screen/features of the specific phone they’re using. For example, if you know that 80 percent of those who access your site via a mobile device use an iPhone, then maybe you can put video highlights of today’s big football game on your mobile site. However, if they’re accessing you from a lesser “smart” phone, than perhaps you want to strip all of that out since it’s not likely they’ll be using that functionality.
To find out what device visitors are using to access your site, go back into your analytics and click on the Mobile Devices tab in the Visitors section. This will give you a breakdown of how your customers are accessing your site. You may be pretty surprised at the results. For example, when I checked the analytics Outspoken Media, I found that the iPad was already in the top five for mobile devices uses. That’s good information to know.
The above represents four questions that I think any small business owner should ask themselves when dealing with mobile Web sites. It’s simply not good enough to “think” your site loads properly. In today’s on-the-go environment, you not only need a mobile presence, you need an optimized mobile presence.
It is so important to know “What devices are they using” when visitors come to your site. I was reading Mary Meekers report http://bit.ly/camqMs where the prediction is 5 years from now Mobile access to the Internet will overtake desktop access.
Lisa, Thank you for sharing this valuable information with the Small Business Trends community…….
The Franchise King
It’s so easy to find out what mobile devices they’re currently using that anyone can do it. However, don’t forget that if your site doesn’t render on a device (iPhone for example) that might not show up very high in your analytics because those users have already crossed you off their “websites I read on my mobile” list. Can’t agree more with the advice to have friends with a couple different kinds of phones try to load up your site.
NW @Website Design
Also does the overall design and theme tie into the rest of the marketing material.
and does the mobile website lead customers efficiently through the sales cycle?
It’s amazing how many companies throw money into something without the proper research and analysis.
As a new iPhone user it easy to surf the web on the go. I have used MoFuse and created a mobile version of my EGO blog. I have added a button on the blog with stats on mobile users / readers. It is a small mobile readership for the time being, but I think it will increase in the future.
Anita: How have you made your site mobile friendly?
Lisa brings up great points. Keeping the mobile user experience in mind when designing the website is extremely important. I’ve been to countless websites where I am just trying to access the company’s address or phone number, but yet when I reach their site, my mobile browser takes a long while to load the different images or videos. I had to look elsewhere for the info, or I just completely abandoned my search and looked for their competitor.
I work at Sage Software for a product called Billing Boss (http://www.billingboss.com). It’s an online invoicing tool integrated with a mobile payment tool called Payment Boss (http://www.paymentboss.com). When we developed the mobile payment tool, it was necessary to keep the mobile user experience in mind as we knew that customers who wish to collect payment on the road, they want to use this solution through their mobile phone.
We stripped away all “unnecessary” functionality from the interface, and kept it to the base core functions: 1) Collect Payment 2) View previous transaction history 3) Settings (eg. taxes). The end result is a fast loading interface that allows our user to get in, do their job, and get out.
When you develop your mobile site, I highly recommend that you keep the fact that mobile users want to quickly “get in” and “get out”. By providing the most relevant information at the top of the site, you negate customer frustration.
Please note: This author has been compensated by Sage.
All 4 questions are good. I would include a few others as well. Namely, how can you motivate your mobile website visitor to subscribe to your mobile marketing list? Make sure you add the “click to call” widget so they can call you with a single click. Make sure you have an easy way for the mobile visitor to find your location on a map in no more than 3 clicks. Add a Refer a Friend widget and by all means, have a survey page to engage your new mobile audience on what they want and why they want it from your new mobile website. This is what we do when we add a to our client to our Mobile Website Builder group.
Mobile Website Builder
From a SMB point of view, the “call to action” or trigger events that I advocate are to have your .Mobi site provide the visitor are;
1. Click to Call
2. Map Directions
3. Refer a Friend
4. Add to Address Book
5. Opt-in SMS Form
I wonder why there’s still a debate on the merits of registering a .Mobi domain name vs. using a sub-domain http://m.yousite.com?
As you pointed out, the .mobi algorithm is different for .mobi than normal .com search bots. Plus, the .mobi sites I’ve uilt get indexed faster in the directory and the keywords for each page show up on my Google alerts usually w/in 48 hours.
Great article. Thank you. We are currently working on an “automated” converter. You can check out our progress on WebtoSmartphone.com. It converts on the fly and it works pretty well on blogs.