Reach Customers Where They Are With Mobile

Mobile marketing strategies are getting a lot of press these days, especially due to Google’s announcement to include mobile friendliness as a ranking signal on April 21. Some key details referenced on Search Engine Watch:

  • Responsive design does not have a ranking benefit
  • Googlebot must be allowed to crawl CCS and JavaScript to pass the “mobile-friendly” test
  • Mobile friendliness is determined at the page level, not site
  • Tablets will not be affected by this update
  • Google is currently working on a dedicated mobile index

But let’s pause for a moment – no business should react to an algorithm change and call it a strategy, especially where mobile has such significant upward trends. Think about your strategy. Is mobile an afterthought, the first screen you center your marketing plan on, or a future strategy to be developed when it becomes relevant? Well, the following statistics suggest that mobile is neither an afterthought nor a future plan. It is now. If your plans are indeed customer-centric, you must be where the customer is in their moment of need and that’s on mobile.

Many of you may be familiar with the old joke that the nine most terrifying words in the English language are: “I’m from the government, and I’m here to help.” Well, I’m not trying to terrify you and I’m not from the government, but I am here to help, given some rather astounding business statistics.

We just celebrated the 30th anniversary of the first registered domain. Yet did you know that in 2014 only 53 percent of small businesses had a website, a modest increase from the 45 percent of small businesses with websites in 2009. Yet, in the U.S. the use of smartphones and tablets officially surpassed the use of desktops to access the Internet in February of 2014.

Let’s pause to consider the implications of these statistics: 47 percent of small businesses have not yet even established a website for desktops and their customers are already moving on to mobile devices. Moreover, the term “small business” does not only apply to “mom-and-pop shops.” Take a look at the excerpt below of small business website statistics from Statistics Brain and you’ll see that while the percentage of businesses with websites increases with volume of annual sales, even among businesses with annual sales ranging from $2,500,000 to $4,500,000, 33 percent of those businesses do not have websites. While 4 percent of the businesses surveyed believed that they would never need a website, others cited issues such as “cost, lack of time, and too complex” for not having a website.

Small Business Website Statistics  Data 
Percent of small businesses with websites in 2014  53% 
Percent of small businesses with websites in 2009  45%

The following is a breakdown of the percent of businesses with a website inside of a specific annual revenue range.

Annual Revenue of Business  Percent With Websites 
Annual sales of $100,000-$499,000   45% 
Annual sales of $500,000-$999,000   49% 
Annual sales of $1,000,000-$2,490,000   69% 
Annual sales of $2,500,000-$4,500,000   67%

Statistics Brain cites the U.S. Census Bureau, eMarketer, and Jupiter Research as the sources of the above statistics and notes that the figures “clearly show that having an online presence is vital to growth and increases in profits.”

No matter what stage of digital maturity your organization finds itself in, there is no time like the present to develop a mobile strategy or to build upon your current mobile strategy. But first, let’s take a closer look at the digital world around us.

Pew Research reports the following:

  • 90 percent of American adults have a cell phone
  • 58 percent of American adults have a smartphone
  • 32 percent of American adults own an e-reader
  • 42 percent of American adults own a tablet computer
  • 44 percent of cell owners have slept with their phone next to their bed because they wanted to make sure they didn’t miss any calls, text messages, or other updates during the night

Moreover, The United Nations Telecommunications Agency reports that the number of people globally who have cell phones exceeds the number of people who have had landlines. And while subscription rates exceed 100 percent in wealthier countries due to individuals and businesses with multiple subscriptions, poorer countries still show an average of 89.4 percent subscriptions per 100 inhabitants.

Last, but most assuredly not least, despite all of the overwhelming evidence that consumers are increasingly turning to mobile devices, Forrester Research predicts that in 2015 “most brands will underinvest in mobile.” Forrester makes the case that mobile is not just another channel and suggests that marketers take the following action: “To deliver smarter experiences connected to customer relationship management (CRM) and marketing systems, marketing leaders must break away from the pack by working with their counterparts in the CIO’s organization to accelerate what Forrester calls the business technology (BT) agenda, a shared to-do list across roles for applying technology, systems, and processes to win, serve, and retain customers.”

Even if your organization understands the need for a robust mobile strategy, it may be wondering how SEO best practices might differ between mobile and desktop. In truth, in the future they won’t vary much, but here are a few tips to keep in mind:

  • Make sure your site is designed for the smaller mobile screens using responsive design techniques, but remember that people will scroll, so don’t oversimplify to the extent of excluding important content.
  • Optimizing for local search is particularly necessary, as people on the go look for solutions in their local area.
  • Remember that page speed is especially important for mobile devices due to hardware and connectivity issues. Page load speeds of no more than three seconds keep bounce rates to a minimum. See more resources on getting started on mobile.

If you‘ve been advocating for a mobile strategy in your organization, use this post to help you in convincing the appropriate parties to take action.

Image via Shutterstock.

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