Thursday, October 29, 2015

Four reasons mobile is not a trend anymore

Mobile isn't really that important, is it? Yes. Yes it is. End of post.  

Kidding aside, for the last three years one of the hottest trends in small business (any type, not just internet companies) and social media has been the importance of mobile. Whether it is having a website that is mobile responsive, or realizing that your customers are using mobile devices, mobile is kind of a big deal.  

Mobile is not a trend anymore. It is a complete transformation in the way we interact socially, engage with customers and conduct business.

Opinions vary, but here are my top four reasons mobile should not be ignored.

When did you last search on Page 2?

1. Search Results

Now it hits your website in the search engine. Websites that are not mobile responsive or optimized for mobile devices show up farther down on mobile searches. 

To make matters more competitive, Google has also changed the number of displayed search results from six to three.

Case in point. I recently conducted a website review for a client and the website is not mobile optimized.  

Search from desktop: site ranks #6. 
Search from mobile phone. Site ranked #19 and was on page #2. (Ouch!)

2.  Customer experience.

Attention spans are shorter. Customers want to engage. Customers want a "an experience". Consumers will research online prior to making a purchase.  Online reviews like Yelp, TripAdvisor and Google local are studied prior to making a purchase. 

Kissmetrics has a great Infographic that shows how loading time can affect abandonment, user experience and ultimately, bottom line.  Customers are seeking a live action experience.  

I read recently that restaurants are experiencing longer table turns.  It is common now for patrons to first "check in" to a restaurant so their friends can see where they are.  They are texting and delay looking at a menu.  They could be tweeting about what to order.  Then when the food arrives, it is time for a selfie (probably not the first one) or group photo. And on and on.  

Small businesses cannot compete on price.  Customer engagement will be a game changer.

Customer experience also means that shoppers are able to 
quickly search, find and buy online.

3.  Knowing your customers' mobile habits.

Here are some startling statistics from the Pew Research Center about smartphone owners:
  • 64% of American adults now own a smartphone of some kind, up from 35% in the spring of 2011.
  • 68% use their phone to share pictures, videos or commentary about events happening in their community.
  • 46% of smartphone owners say they "Couldn't live without"
  • 97% used text messaging at least once over a one-week period
  • 85% of young adults ages 19-29 own smartphones.

Users are more comfortable purchasing on mobile devices than ever before. Previously, a consumer would research items or services online, then purchase on a desktop.  This has increased steadily and users will now research and purchase on a mobile device, in some cases a different device.

4.  Personalization

You may not recognize the topic as personalization, but anyone that has signed up for a free white paper, shopped online for shoes or left items in a shopping cart has been the recipient of this.  Personalization is another name for customer intelligence, marketing intelligence, segmentation and is relevant whether or not we are discussing mobile. Personalized messaging or targeted ads used to seem a little creepy, but now consumers are getting used to it.

Some examples:
  • Text push notifications - reminders for appointments.
  • Personalized emails with a discount on an item you were shopping for, "You left this in your cart, still interested?"
  • Text alerts for flash sales or special offers.

Email still works for customer engagement

Email is not obsolete and can be an effective marketing tool. Email has long ranked as one of the most common activities that users take part in online since the desktop/laptop era, and it continues to play a prominent role in the mobile era as well. 

If you compare email and Facebook ad effectiveness for 1000 customers:

An e-newsletter typically sees about 12-19% open rate = 120 to 190 views.

For a regular business Facebook post (not sponsored posts), about 2% of your followers see your posts = 20 views.

What can a small business do to keep up?

Statistics aside, if your website or marketing materials are not optimized for mobile, it would be a good idea to re-evaluate your marketing efforts and advertising budget to consider a website upgrade.  A website should be viewed as an ongoing marketing expense, not just a one-time expense. Here are 10 more reasons to look into a mobile site. 

For starters, business owners can talk with its current web designer or seek a new web firm. There are many options available.  Some websites are so out-of-date that it is cheaper to have a new mobile site created than to upgrade a current antiquated site.  Start by getting three quotes and learning what questions to ask. 

As customer engagement becomes more important, a positive user experience can pay off in the long run.  If your customers are using mobile devices, can you better serve them?Does the cost of not upgrading a website outweigh the risk to losing customers? What's the value of a lifetime, satisfied customer to your business?

Overwhelmed? Call your business advisor to get help prioritizing.  The timing is perfect to budget for 2016.