The mobile Web drives big business. Each mobile search represents hundreds of thousands of follow-up actions, and mounting evidence suggests that there is no better time to establish a mobile presence than the present. Mobile users are savvy consumers and have high expectations. Avoid pitfalls by becoming familiar with the terms, technology and territory.
Mobile is Big Business & It’s Here to Stay
Research firm Morgan Stanley predicts that by 2014 more people will access the Internet through a mobile device than through desktop or laptop computers. Morgan Stanley isn’t the only organization that’s predicting this trend reversal. Market leaders Apple and Windows are investing more money in mobile computer development, and for Apple especially, the effort is paying off. The iPhone 5 enjoys over 17 million users across the European continent alone and the company boasts that it once sold over 3 million iPads in three days.
Consumers spend much of their time on mobile devices engaging in social media, a fact that isn’t lost on the thousands of brands that advertise on social media networks. Roughly 86% of these brands use Facebook and Twitter while 59% use YouTube. Chasing the pack is Instagram at 14%, which is a Facebook property. Pinterest, at 37%, is a growing social network that specializes in organized image sharing via “pin boards.” These pin boards are permanent image showcases that can feature URLs. The relatively low saturation of Pinterest and the high-engagement factor of images suggests that this network may be ripe for social media marketing campaigns going forward.
Choosing Your Mobile Presence
Before you can target mobile device users, however, you should decide how you will create your mobile presence. There are three general approaches: mobile Web, responsive design and the mobile app.
Mobile Web describes a site that is designed—or redesigned—to fit comfortably on a mobile device. Mobile websites are often simpler than their desktop counterparts, emphasizing simple navigation and bite-size pages. Responsive design is somewhere in the middle, with pages that adapt in size and complexity depending on whether the user is on a mobile device or desktop computer. These pages will change freely between landscape and portrait view. Finally, a mobile app lives on the mobile device itself and cannot be accessed from a Web browser.
Choosing the correct access point for your business is essential. Sometimes, as in the case of a brokerage firm, it makes sense to have a mobile app as the primary access point. This way, the company can encourage their potential clients to experiment with the charts, news feeds and other features that clients will have access to once they open an account. In this way, the app serves as an organic proxy for the actual trading station. It also provides the prospect with a taste of the service before they commit.
An online store, on the other hand, would likely benefit more from a mobile version of their established site than a dedicated mobile app. Of course, there is nothing stopping you from using all three approaches, but you may find the cost prohibitive if you’re just getting started.
Tracking Mobile Usage Stats
Once you’re up and running on the mobile Web and promoting yourself, you’ll want to track your progress. Keep the following tips in mind as you delve in.
First off, traffic analytics on mobile devices plays out completely differently. Once-key statistics such as bounce and abandon rates are nowhere near as important. Data released by Google suggests that 55% of mobile conversions occur within an hour of an initial visit, so unlike on your primary website, where repeat exposure helps build trust and drives engagement, mobile pages either work after initial exposure, or they don’t. Mobile searchers need what they need now—right now.
Google has also stated that 73% of mobile searches lead to “additional action,” and more importantly, conversions. Mobile users are mobile shoppers. Your job isn’t to sell to them, it’s to make it easy for them to buy. Aside from a clean UI, you should optimize your video, shorten your URLs, and take advantage of the newest technologies, such as NFC, or near field communication.
There are several firms that you can engage to track your mobile analytics, and setup is no more complex in most cases than a standard analytics package. Leading the pack are Flurry, Localytics, and Apsalar, but new firms come along all the time.
Remember: give a lot, and ask for little. Don’t make your visitors jump through multiple opt-ins. Mailing lists are valuable, but in the buy-it-now environment of the mobile Web, a simple, short pitch coupled with a call to action is even more valuable.