Mobile websites: Capturing an audience on the move

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Steve Raubenstine, President & CEO, NetObjects discusses why it is imperative businesses have a mobile web presence to capture a growing audience on the move.

Web-connected mobile devices are being used everywhere for business from accessing email, downloading reports or updating social media in transit. Worldwide sales of smartphones and tablets continue to trend upwards fueling not only an increase in the numbers of people accessing company websites while on the move but also a business debate on how to address the mobile web...

A new browsing trend equals new business opportunities

According to Gartner Research, mobile web use will overtake desktop browsing by 2015, with the number of smartphones and browser-equipped phones exceeding 1.82 billion units. This increase in internet-enabled mobile devices is changing the way people browse the web with many people choosing to use mobile devices as their primary internet browsing format. For businesses this means a more dynamic, wider audience to target and build relationships with. It also means that a business and its audience can have near continuous access to each other, allowing the business to tap into a rich resource of potential customers.

Thanks to the growth and spread of mobile internet access, businesses can find their customer base growing organically, as customers can instantly visit a company's website on a mobile device the moment they hear about its products and services through advertising or word-of-mouth. Such immediate access can not only boost visibility of a business’ website but also increase sales as mobile visitors are able to make spontaneous purchase decisions outside the comfort of their homes.

Adapt to succeed: Why mobile websites matter to meeting audience expectations

In response to this change in browsing habits, businesses are already developing mobile versions of their desktop websites, designed for browsing on portable devices. If you are running a start-up or SME, now is the time to develop your own mobile website in order to keep up with shifting audience expectations and utilize the latest business communication channels and technologies.

By incorporating a clean, functional design with only information and products most relevant to the target audience, a mobile website will be a streamlined version of its desktop counterpart. This will provide an intuitive optimized layout catering for the immediate needs of the mobile visitor, perfectly suited to touch navigation.  Without it, visitors attempting to browse desktop websites on tablets or smartphones can often end up frustrated as they attempt to navigate a content-heavy site optimized for a larger screen with mouse and keyboard. In the context of a noisy or hectic environment, a visitor can swiftly become impatient which may delay a potential purchase or drive that visitor elsewhere.

In essence, SMEs looking to drive growth cannot afford to ignore the mobile web; a digital channel that is growing exponentially. The lack of an optimized mobile website runs the risk of alienating a growing proportion of your audience and potential customers that are increasingly present online while on the move.

Optimize mobile browsing to capture a wider audience

Large corporations and well-known brands have also started to develop apps to go alongside their desktop websites. Effective commercially-focused apps, however, can be expensive and time consuming to design and construct. These are often restricted to a single major mobile operating system such as iOS, Android or Blackberry, effectively cutting out potential customers using a different mobile OS. To this end, mobile websites offer SMEs a more cost-effective solution, plus also ensure websites work across a variety of mobile devices. With a growing variety of smartphones and tablets on offer to firms and consumers, a mobile website can make a significant difference in maximizing the reach of your business.

Developing a mobile website requires thought to be put into its design, content, layout, functionality and social media integration, but the first crucial step is to understand your audience. To create an effective mobile website you will need to understand what expectations your target audience will have when searching for and browsing your company's products, services and profile. Knowing the requirements of a prospective customer on the move will allow you to tailor your mobile website to best meet their needs which will in turn help to achieve digital marketing objectives.

Online applications such as NetObjects Mosaic allow you to create a mobile website that can include dynamic content, social media widgets and optimized mobile functions, allowing your business to tap into an up-and-coming digital channel and boost associated leads and sales.

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