Over the last few years mobile devices have found their way into almost every aspect of our lives. From the boardroom and airport to the family living room, smartphones, tablets, and other mobile devices have become part of modern culture.
Nowhere is this passion for mobile greater than in Asia. Telecoms research site Budde.com revealed that 49 percent of the globe’s mobile subscribers are located here, and that in South Korea and Singapore mobile broadband subscriptions outnumber people. Meanwhile, a rapid rise in mobile subscriptions in India and China is set to continue, as more of their vast populations get connected.
Mobile channels offer the perfect opportunity to appeal to Asian markets. Fortunately, what works for Asia can be of value in other global markets as well. Ericsson predicts there will be five billion mobile subscriptions worldwide by 2017, when it expects 3G cellular networks to be accessible to 85 percent of the global population. Emerging economies in particular are opting for mobile broadband over fixed line, with mobile devices outnumbering PCs in many developing countries.
Keep international campaigns mobile-friendly to make the most of this trend. A few guidelines can help achieve the best possible results.
Create Content That Delivers
Most of us know that a mobile-friendly site needs to load quickly. Unfortunately, some businesses go to the opposite extreme with minimalist, content-poor mobile sites.
For significant numbers of mobile subscribers in South Asia and other parts of the world, this will be their primary or sole access to the web. Elsewhere, even in developed economies, mobile broadband offers essential access to data on the move. Make it a rule to treat these mobile web users with respect by providing them with full access to what they need.
The key to a content-rich, mobile-friendly site? Keep non-essential content to a minimum, especially non-text elements, while making sure visitors can access all the information they need. Take a tip from Google’s What Users Want Most From Mobile Sites Today survey and deliver the most important details such as how to buy, who to call, or how to get there on the first page.
Design for Global Mobile Users
Desktop web browsing makes it relatively easy to adapt to the different preferences and styles of other cultures. Mobile devices are more challenging, not least because of the variety in screen size. What works on a large format tablet might be impossible with the limited screen space of a smartphone.
A mobile-friendly site is likely to have large tap targets such as buttons and will avoid the need for too much scrolling or zooming. Simplify the navigational structure as much as possible, and test it on a variety of devices. Simulators that allow you to preview your site on a smartphone and other screen formats can help here.
Once this universal mobile-friendly structure is in place, localize the design for international markets. This includes changing currencies and time zones, to ensure they are relevant to the country of the visitor. However, it might also mean changing the style of presentation to suit other cultures. For instance, a cultural preference for visually complex sites, cute themes, or vibrant colors may need to be replaced with more white space and culturally appropriate visuals for European web users.
Plan for Translation
Even when choosing to launch a mobile site or campaign in just one country, it pays to take future translations into account. Different languages need to be accommodated in the design, such as allowing for both left-to-right and right-to-left language formats or making sure different web character encoding sets can be used. Similarly, those all-important buttons may need to expand to fit around more verbose languages as well as what may be a single Chinese character.
Translations need to be polished and professional to make a good first impression. The Google survey mentioned earlier showed that users expect simple, clear sites to help them make quick choices. The data also revealed that 79 percent of users will go to a competitor’s site if they don’t find what they want. To prevent that happening, use native-speaking translators or copywriters to ensure the language is both accurate and engaging.
The Power of an App
These days, mobile users rely on apps for everything from lifestyle management to education and entertainment. Developing a popular app is a great way to boost awareness of the business or brand behind it. Apps also have international appeal, though be sure to take cultural and language changes into account here too. English remains the most important app language, according to Distimo‘s September 2012 study, but non-English languages are increasing their share of the download market, particularly in Asia. Distimo also found that both download volumes and revenue increased when iPhone apps were translated into the native language of a target market.
The mobile revolution has made international markets more accessible than ever before. Make mobile marketing a priority to become part of it.
Image on home page via Shutterstock.
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