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Benefits of a Mobile-Compatible Website

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Odds are, when someone looks at your website, they’re doing so from an iPhone or other mobile device. A 2010 Pew Research Center report showed that 6 out of every 10 Americans use the mobile Web, and that number is likely even higher today. Yet despite this fact, many businesses and blogs still design their sites only for traditional desktops or laptops. Is this true of you? How does your website look on mobile devices? Do you even know?

 

Why Build a Mobile Website

Designing a mobile-compatible website means recognizing how many potential readers are on their phones. When you build a site to suit them, here are some of the benefits you get in return:

  • Improved User Experience: Mobile sites are made to look and perform better on mobile devices than on traditional desktops or laptops, which makes for an improved user experience.
  • Longer Visits: The most common reaction visitors have to sites that don’t load properly? They leave. By designing your site to be mobile-friendly, you encourage visitors to stick around, clicking through more pages of content.
  • Faster Page Loads: Because they are designed specifically for the dimensions and standards of mobile browsers, mobile sites load faster for users.
  • Improved SEO: A mobile website does better on mobile-friendly search engines, bringing in new traffic and visitors who are searching on their phones.
  • Professional Image/Better Branding: With a slick, high-quality mobile website, you communicate a sense of professionalism to your audience. What’s more, you enjoy one more opportunity to increase brand awareness.
  • Competitive Advantage: With a mobile website, you have an extra way to differentiate yourself from the competition. When mobile clients scroll through your site and your competitors’, yours will be the one from which they pull information.

Mobile Website vs. Mobile App

You know you need a way to connect with mobile users, but does that mean a mobile website, or could it mean an app? The truth is, both options are excellent ways to reach your readers.

  • Option 1: Create a Separate Mobile Site: Desktops and laptops are not the same as smartphones. They are not the same size. They do not offer the same browsing experience. They are not used in the same ways (desktop/laptop users are at a computer; mobile users may be anywhere). So why would you assume a made-for-desktop website is adequate for mobile visitors? Build a separate, mobile version of your site to reach these readers.
  • Option 2: Create a Separate Mobile App: Another option is to create a custom mobile app. While building an app is typically more expensive than creating a mobile website, research shows it works—mobile apps traditionally have higher success rates than websites. If you choose to go this route to make your online content mobile-friendly, make your app is feature-rich and legitimately valuable to your audience.

Tips and Ideas for a Mobile Website

OK. You understand a mobile-friendly website makes sense, so now what? Before you build your mobile site, what should you keep in mind? What’s good to know? Here are some important tips:

  • Redirect Automatically: Ideally, your mobile website automatically comes up for users on mobile devices. Your designer/webmaster can control this functionality for you.
  • Think Simple: The homepage of your traditional website may have header navigation, a sidebar, multiple columns, and so on. The homepage of your mobile website needs to be simpler. Rather than attempting to duplicate your entire website, focus instead on the most relevant information.
  • Link to Traditional Site: For readers who want more details, provide a link to the desktop version of your site. This way, more information is still available for anyone who wants it.
  • Be Fast: Load times are vital on mobile devices, so make sure your site loads in a few seconds. Minimize image sizes, pare down the JavaScript and CSS files, and do whatever you can to make your site run quickly.
  • Think Touch: Thanks to smartphones, touch is the new way to surf a site. With that in mind, design your site with dropdown menus and pre-populated fields when possible.

 

 

Mobile Marketing – Where Small Businesses Should Focus

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… by Navin Ganeshan

Working for a marketing services provider that focuses on small businesses, we’re always hot on the trail of anything that promises to deliver the one thing that small businesses value the most – leads, leads, leads.

In this context, to say that mobile marketing shows promise, is an understatement of biblical proportions. Mobile internet usage has grown to 120M users in 3 years, or as analyst Mary Meeker from Kleiner Perkins puts it in real-world terms, “faster than any new thing”. Half of all smartphone users have used their phone to buy products and services. 50% of all US shoppers (not just smartphone users) will use the mobile web to influence shopping decisions by 2014.

But despite these overwhelming trends, we find that small businesses remain confused and conflicted about the value of mobile marketing activities. In our own surveys via the Small Business Success Index, less than 7% have a mobile-optimized website. Over 60% consider mobile marketing to be “cutting edge” or “ahead of its time”.

So what’s the disconnect? Why is it that John Q the consumer is (supposedly) voraciously consuming mobile bandwidth searching, clicking, downloading and interacting, while the same John Q the small-business owner views mobile like it were quantum mechanics. So let’s hit reboot, or rather hold down the power button and flick the slider to off. Let’s run through some commonly mentioned (if not exactly used) mechanisms for mobile marketing.

Custom Apps
This seemed to be an obsession in 2010 for the few tech-savvy small business owners with money and time to spare. But unfortunately the jury is out, and other than bragging rights with your family and friends, spending thousands to develop a marketing app that is found by a few, downloaded by fewer and used by no one is probably not great ROI for a restaurant or dry-cleaner. With some exceptions – if you transact primarily in content (bloggers), there are cost-effective DIY App services like AppMakr that let you satisfy your subscribers (or feed your ego) for a few hundred dollars.

Mobile Display Ads
For now this is still dominated by larger brands and marketing campaigns, but newer services like WhereAds from Where.com show a promising future where for a small monthly fee, a restaurateur can target nearby hungry consumers with a real-time coupon that pops up while they’re listening to Pandora.

SMS Advertising
This is a well-established market with many cost-effective solutions. Usage continues to grow for now, but as with email marketing, its appeal is bound to wane eventually as customers get tired of SMS-spam and contextually irrelevant ads.

Check-Ins
Social networking app like FourSquare and GoWalla have also provided small local businesses a great new channel for cost-effective marketing by incentivizing visits and actions, as do rewards services like CheckPoints and ShopKick. A merchant can offer a free appetizer to new visitors or to loyal customers. But these share a limitation as a marketing channel – they are restricted to users or members of a specific service – the whole walled-garden dilemma.

And this brings us to the two most important but under-appreciated ways to market on mobile. Drum-roll, please…..

Search (simply showing up)
As Woody Allen famously said, “80% of success is simply showing up”. When mobile consumers search for products or businesses, they’re generally looking to act and act quickly, or in marketing terms, “intent is high”. Consider this – half of all mobile searches are considered “local”. And 43% of these local searchers actually walk in the door – that’s almost half! So if you don’t show up, you’re not in the game. It’s that simple.

Mobile consumers generally find businesses in three ways – (1) Search Engines (2) Maps and (3) Directories which sometimes come with their own location-based apps like Yelp, Urban Spoon or Trip Advisor. But with so many different directories, apps, review sites that track businesses, it can be challenge to cover all your bases. Local marketing or directory-submission services such as Network Solutions’ Local Search VisibilityTM help broaden the reach by submitting to hundreds of directories for a monthly fee – a small price to pay for omnipresence.

Engagement (making it easy to interact)
Once they find a local business, what next? Mobile users behavior and expectations are different from those online. So it’s imperative to have a website that is optimized for mobile users – basically this means skipping the elaborate animations and fancy graphics to instead provide key features or information that are no more than one click away – Click-to-Call, mapping/directions, menu, reservation links or any coupons or specials you can use as incentives.

But getting a mobile presence doesn’t mean creating a whole new site. Services such as Network Solutions’ goMobiTM or DudaMobile allow you create a mobile presence using your existing domain name and based on content extracted from your existing web-site. But the resulting experience feels more like a native app.

Another equally important aspect of optimizing your presence is keeping your profile up-to-date on directories and networks like Yelp, TripAdvisor, UrbanSpoon, Facebook Places etc and ensuring that they have compelling information and content about your business. There’s nothing less inviting than a Facebook profile with a big ? as your profile picture.

To summarize, these are exciting times – we’re witnessing a renaissance for small business local marketing with mobile being at the epi-center of innovation. But the most important things to consider are still the basics – optimizing for search and enhancing the engagement experience.

Network Solutions® fosters small business success in the highly competitive online space by providing the tools and resources to start, grow and manage businesses online. Leveraging more than thirty years of pioneering experience, Network Solutions helps companies thrive in an increasingly digital world. To ensure our customers’ success, we support them with outstanding customer service and mobile web solutions that are simple, innovative and reliable. Additional information can be found at about.networksolutions.com. We are thrilled to meet with you at BlogWorld, come by and see us in the nsMobile Lounge (booth #109) to take your business MOBILE.

Navin Ganeshan, Chief Product Strategy, Network Solutions
In his role leading new product development and strategic-investments for Network Solutions, Navin attempts to make sense of trends and technology that is transforming small business marketing. Most recently, he ran NetSol’s Web-Presence business which included web- hosting, ecommerce and security product-lines. In his current role, he is shaping NetSol’s strategies for local/social marketing, Cloud/SaaS, social commerce and most importantly for mobile presence, marketing and commerce. He regularly represents Network Solutions and it’s massive small business customer-base at industry events, most recently speaking at AffiliateSummit,  SalesForce’s Dreamforce and the OpenXChange Summit. He recently hosted ProductCampDC – an “unconference” for product-marketers. He is a recovering gadget-head but still frequently sports the iTrifecta – (MacBook+iPad+iPhone).  He is @Nganeshan on twitter. Navin is speaking at #BWENY on Tue, May 24th, 3:45-4:45PM on “Mobile Marketing 101 for Small Business.

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