Thinking of Going Mobile? Start Smart with These 4 Tips

According to the Mobile Marketing Association, marketers are forecasted to spend $14 billion on mobile marketing in 2011. Techcrunch estimates that 20% of all searches will be mobile by 2012. It is predicted that there will be more smartphone users than PC users by 2013. With booming stats like this, it’s no wonder why companies are rushing into “going mobile.”  Everyone is trying to keep up.

The interesting fact is that if you have a website, you are already participating in the mobile world. People can easily visit your website through the browser of their smartphone or tablet device, even if you haven’t planned for them to arrive.  If users find the same design and content on their phone as they do on their computer screen, they may not be experiencing the best you have to offer.

Mobile users are on the go. They want to quickly find key information without the hassle of searching, squinting or scrolling. Yes, those extra actions are considered hassles for people propelled by efficiency. A mobile audience wants information, as soon as it wants the information. Too much zooming and clicking and mobile users are on to the next option, or tweeting about their negative experience. Using the traditional design and layout strategy from your website for your mobile presence creates a risk of losing potential clients and customers.

4 tips to get started with a mobile strategy:

  1. Know design do’s and don’ts. For example, the iPad does not play Flash.  According to Wired magazine, nearly one out of every 300 Americans already owns an Ipad, and not one of those people can see your website if it is designed in Flash.  It is also important to keep content readable, in clean columns, with minimal clutter to help people find the specific nuggets of information they are seeking. As a general rule, less is more when dealing with a smaller screen.
  2. Know the difference between an app and a mobile website. A website is instantly available when a user accesses it through the Internet.  If your website has a presence on the Internet, mobile users can find it.  On the other hand, an app has to be downloaded by a user.  It requires an extra step of downloading and sometimes has additional costs associated.
  3. Know if you need to create a separate mobile website. Since your website is already accessible by mobile users, do you even need to create a separate website? One way to make this decision is to check the Google Analytics on your current website. From here, you can quickly find the overall numbers of mobile devices that are accessing your website. You can also see if the number is rising or changing. Use these results to help determine if it’s time to invest in the mobile space.
  4. Know what’s out there. Begin to investigate competitors and brands on different mobile devices. You will find a wide variety in what you experience as a user. For example, Whole Foods is truly optimized for mobile use with a separate mobile website. You can compare their traditional website with their mobile site from your PC by clicking on the “mobile site” link in the footer of their website. Another good example of a site designed for the mobile user is Wired Magazine.On the other hand, J Crew does not have a separate mobile site. Visit them on a mobile device and you will see an exact replica of their website. Their mobile presence is not geared to the online shopper who wants to quickly make a purchase. Martha Stewart is another example of a brand whose mobile presence seems to be based on traditional website design rather than customized for the mobile user.
What do you think? Would a mobile website help you engage with visitors who are already finding you online?
Do you already have a mobile site?  If so, what tools do you use to develop layout and content specific for mobile visitors?


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