Online Marketing Must Get Mobile [STATS]

Over the Thanksgiving period, there was a 160 percent increase in mobile traffic on U.S. retailers’ websites when compared with 2010, according to Usablenet. The mobile platform company powers the mobile websites of over 100 leading U.S. retailers, including JCPenney and REI. Usablenet’s figures reveal that, on Thanksgiving Day, customers spent time browsing for the best deals. On “Black Friday” they were more likely to be locating premises, accessing wish lists, and reading reviews from other customers, as their holiday shopping kicked in to top gear.

This increase in mobile traffic is not surprising when you look at the statistics for smartphone ownership. ComScore reports that around 650,000 phone users switched from non-smart to smartphones each week in September 2011. According to Neilson, 43 percent of active phones in the U.S. are now smartphones. Those in the 25 to 34 age range have the highest smartphone ownership, with 62 percent owning smartphones.

As the adoption of smartphones grows, consumers are becoming more confident in the technology. In a survey conducted by PayPal and Ipsos, 46 percent of respondents said that they would make a holiday purchase online using their mobile device.

Clearly this trend towards increased smartphone ownership and mobile internet usage has an impact on the direction that online marketers need to take if they want to reach their customers via the internet. Users must be able to read and access a website on a mobile device without losing vital functionality. The design needs to fit a smaller screen and it must load quickly on a 2G or 3G device. Website designers should consider dropping unnecessary graphics, which may take up valuable space and slow down the loading time.

The key to successful functionality on mobile devices is remembering that users will be pressing the screens with their fingers. If buttons and links are too close together, mobile users may find that they accidentally navigate to the wrong page, leading to frustration and the potential for lost sales.

Google have identified that 1 in 7 searches carried out on its search engine are from a mobile device. To help website owners work out how their website looks to mobile users, Google has developed a new initiative called “How To Go Mo”. By logging on to this user-friendly website, you can view your website as if from a smartphone. Using the GoMo Meter, you can carry out an analysis of your website and obtain a customized report advising on how to make it more mobile-friendly. With case studies and helpful hints, this Google initiative makes it much easier to adapt your website to the mobile market.

For any retailer without a mobile-friendly website, the message is clear: consider the experience of mobile users or risk losing access to a potentially lucrative segment of consumers.

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Omar Kattan is Chief Strategy Officer at Sandstorm Digital, the MENA region's first specialist content marketing agency headquartered in Dubai. His experience includes 10 years in traditional marketing and advertising in the Middle East and a further 10 years at two of the largest media agencies in the UK. Follow Omar on Twitter for updates on the latest in digital, branding, advertising and marketing.

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