Is the mobile optimisation message really getting through?
26th Mar 2012 | 14:00
Abby Hardoon, founder and CEO of hosting company Daily.co.uk, looks at the adoption of the mobile web, the pay off for businesses that get it right and the reasons why some are slow on the uptake
It’s no secret that we are becoming a global community of smartphone worshipers. With year on year increases of adoption looking more and more like phone numbers, the mobile web is, without question, the new frontier for online business. And with any new frontier, there will be those who understand the terrain and find gold and those who don’t … and find rocks.
Web adoption itself, back in the 1990s and early 2000s, was, undoubtedly, a phenomenon. Developers dashed, money flowed, bubbles grew and investors got very rich, or very poor, very quickly. It was a time of mass conjecture about consumer demands and behaviour that spawned the greats such as Amazon, ebay and Google and spurned the not-so-greats – you might have to, er, Google boo and webvan.com.
The current speed of adoption of the mobile web is eight times faster. Yes, eight times. And it’s not just idle traffic either. Online consumers are no longer the wide-eyed wanderers who would marvel at a moving image on their computer screen, they are now informed, impatient and agile and the mobile web is rapidly becoming their new playground.
In a recent survey of mobile web users carried out by the Compuware Corporation; 71 per cent expected websites to load as quickly on their mobile phones as their desktops with 74 per cent only willing to wait five seconds or less for a page to load. 46 per cent would be unlikely to return to a website that they had trouble accessing via their phone and 34 per cent said they’d likely visit a competitor’s mobile site instead.
So, what if you’re doing it right?
While the highly negative impact of an inadequate mobile presence is there to see, for businesses that are doing it right, it seems there is a similarly dramatic, positive pay off.
A recent study by web analytics solution, KISS Metrics, showed that a site optimised for mobiles is able to generate almost twice the average traffic per user than sites which haven’t. And it’s not just user engagement which is enhanced; the research suggested that, on average, visitors are 51per cent more likely to actually do business with an online retailer if it has a mobile site.
Given the compelling evidence on the benefits of mobile optimisation, it seems staggering then that, in a study carried out by Magus in partnership with Investis, still only 20 per cent of the UK’s largest corporations currently provide support for mobile devices.
Slow on the uptake
The apparent lack of endeavour by business to go mobile seems to be predominantly due to;
- The sheer speed of growth of the mobile web which has meant that even larger businesses with strong strategic focus and awareness of the opportunities are struggling to keep pace with a domain that is evolving so rapidly.
- Businesses having to re-educate themselves and evaluate how to best transfer the functionality and consumer experience which has been developed for their desktop sites, to the different priorities and requirements of their mobile visitors.
The way forward
As is commonly the case, businesses with foresight who adopt early will see the greatest benefits in the gold rush. With the current speed of changes taking place with the mobile web, even brand new enterprises, which enter the field fully understanding the mobile game, will likely enjoy huge rewards while recognisable heavyweights who don’t catch on quickly enough, might well see themselves disappearing out of view.
Go mobile now
Unlike the early days of web adoption where getting a company website up and running was potentially time consuming and costly, getting a mobile optimised site these days can be cheap and quick. Now a mobile site can be created from an existing website dynamically within minutes and then modified wherever required. While some businesses will want nothing less than a feature-laden bespoke solution, the DIY approach can ensure an almost immediate branded mobile presence.
Create content with mobile in mind
Web content is, even now, commonly created with a one-size-fits-all mentality. In order to properly engage mobile customers, consideration must be given to creating stand-alone content which is mobile specific, tailored to the requirements and priorities of people on the move.
Mobile marketing and strategies
Due to marketing to mobile users still being a relatively new technology, data remains scarce on its power and ROI but, with over 13 per cent (and growing rapidly) of all UK web traffic now coming via mobiles, it deserves serious consideration in any marketing strategy.
And if none of the above has convinced you, take it from someone who’s had his share of online success, Google CEO and Chairman of the Board Eric Schmidt who recently heralded “mobile first in everything” as the new rule at Google. Enough said.