The year of the mobile – no, really!
Some were disillusioned last year when ‘the year of the mobile’ didn’t quite reach expectations. While the astounding rate of smartphone adoption and the explosion of practical and fanciful mobile apps kicked off widespread acceptance that mobile is here to stay, the ‘mcommerce explosion’ we were expecting was anticlimactic at best, and there were serious blunders in the form of clunky user interfaces and egocentric communication.
The stage is set, and it’s lights, camera, action on the year of the mobile. As mainstream adoption of the mobile web takes hold, it’s a time of opportunity for organisations quick to make the most of first mover advantages in the mobile arena. Rapidly and wholeheartedly, organisations have embraced the web and its evolving technologies as a surefire way to engage target audiences and make the most of their marketing budgets. With solid ground to stand on, marketing managers will now face the challenge of convincing top management to invest in mobile web. My top three supporting arguments?
The use of mobile web is only going to increase over the coming years – greater availability of WiFi, improved usability and functionality and enhanced virtualisation technology will see mobile phones become mobile workstations, enabling users to accomplish the same tasks once reserved for the office or laptop, anywhere, anytime from their mobile device. Mobile web presence increases visibility and accessibility, and mobile advertising has so far been well received. The use of GPS technology has seen successful engagement with customers and prospects with relevant, real-time, location triggered promotions, sales and coupons, with which responsiveness can be measured quickly and effectively. As the technology improves and trust builds, organisations will be able to gain access to priceless market research (like exactly where visitors were when they researched your organisation – think of the feedback you could receive regarding location-based promotions!), and the results will speak for themselves (high standards for protection of privacy are vital here).
2. Brand Awareness
The global search market generates over 100 billion searches per month, and effective SEO has seen thousands of companies improve brand awareness, advance website rankings, and generate high quality website traffic and conversions. So what? Search engines have a separate index for mobile content, and at the moment they’re practically empty. Imagine coming up first in every search result for all of your keywords…
Mcommerce will boom this year, and there will be many first-time users out there whose loyalty is up for grabs. If you don’t get in first your competitors will, and if you don’t have a dedicated mobile website, slow loading times and a poor user interface is likely to send customers running.
The key to success is in the creation of a customer-focused website that delivers a positive user experience, fast. We recently launched a major entertainment brand’s first mobile website, and for those of you out there considering doing the same, here are my top tips:
- Preempt needs:
Automatically send mobile users to a dedicated mobile version of your website, rather than having them reach your full website only to scramble for the ‘mobile site’ option. Using simple PHP commands you can automatically redirect mobile users that arrive at your desktop site to the mobile-friendly version.
- Less is more:
These fast-paced users are on the run, and don’t have the time or patience to sit and surf a mobile website in its entirety. Truly mobile-friendly websites offer minimalist design and only the most relevant information. Providing simple, intuitive navigation is imperative, and marketing messages should be stripped down to the essentials.
- Make it snappy:
Keep page sizes small – less than 10KB if possible, with minimal use of tables and imagery. Mobile pages take longer to load due to slower network speeds, and mobile devices have limited memory (in comparison to your laptop or desktop). Forrester Research recently reported nearly half of all users abandon a website if they perceive a page or feature takes longer than a few seconds to load. The 3G network may be the fastest mobile internet available but it is still considerably slower than basic ADSL or cable connections, so it’s important to keep the amount of information being pulled from the server to a minimum.
- Test, test, test:
There are hundreds of mobile devices in the world today that are capable of accessing the internet, and the worst case scenario is spending all the time and money investing in building and promoting a mobile website, only to launch without extensively testing. What felt like weeks of testing was all worth it in the end for us. Spend the time and effort getting it right and reap the rewards.
With the recent release of Google’s new smartphone, it will certainly be interesting to see who the main contenders will be this year. Who are your current favourites and why?