We spend increasing amounts of time with our eyes glued to little illuminated rectangles. Yes, that’s right: mobile internet use is rocketing. Captivated by smartphones, we’re online on the High Street, on the train, on our sofas … even driving our cars, although it’s not recommended.
This marks a significant social change. Smartphones are becoming ever-present, even gaining our attention when we’re meant to be doing something else. More than half of adults use a smartphone when socialising with others, and 38% admit to using theirs after it woke them up (source: Ofcom).
For statistics that are closer to home, check your web analytics service to see how many people visit your website using a mobile device. For instance, Google Analytics shows us that about 9% of visitors to the Donut sites are mobile.
Many businesses aren’t stopping to consider how this shift to mobile will affect them. They’re not making the connection between the rise in smartphone sales and their own prospects. That’s a missed opportunity because, make no mistake, there’s money to be made from going mobile.
Accessing a website on a mobile device is very different to using it on a normal computer. The screen is smaller, it’s harder to click on links accurately, and sites may take longer to load.
If your site is tricky to use on smartphones, you’re putting off people who use them. Say you have 10,000 visitors a month, with 10% of them coming from smartphones. That’s 1,000 people who want to use your website, but can’t.
So, it’s vital your company’s website works well on smartphones. This isn’t an impossible task, yet at the end of last year, 70% of companies hadn’t done it.
Often, it’s just a matter of making some simple tweaks to ensure you’re not driving mobile visitors away. Any competent web designer will be able to offer advice, and many website builder services now cater for mobile users as standard. Google even offers a free, simple tool to build mobile websites.
Ben Edmonds is founder of We Sort, a company offering advice to businesses in the creative sector. He’s seen the benefits a mobile-optimised website can bring: “When we redesigned our website earlier this year, we wanted to make sure every aspect of it was mobile-optimised.”
“Although it’s difficult to measure the impact the mobile site has had, there’s been a definite improvement,” he continues. “We’ve seen revenues double since February and one client even said it was the mobile site - which he visited while in a café – that persuaded him to make contact.”
While a simple mobile website helps make your business more visible, an increasing number of people are making purchases on the move. Some research suggests mobile commerce is up 356% year-on-year, and mobile sales account for a growing proportion of total online sales.
The businesses making the biggest gains in this area are those that have made their website slick and easy to use on mobile devices. Take pizza giant Domino’s, which gets about a quarter of its online orders from mobile devices.
It’s not too late to grab a slice of mobile action for your business, and it comes down to the same mobile website principles. Make it easy for people to buy from you on the move, and more people will do so. Bingo! New customers. And you don’t need a Domino’s-sized budget to make it happen.
What’s more, there could be a cost to a poor mobile commerce experience. Research by IBM-owned intelligence company Tealeaf found 66% of people would be less likely to buy from a company through other channels if they had problems conducting a mobile transaction.
The message is clear: with mobile internet use set to eclipse traditional internet access in the next few years, now is the time to address your mobile website experience. If you don’t, you will get left behind.
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“We launched a mobile version of Open at the same time as the full website. We did this because we know it’s important the content is available to people using mobile devices.”
“It gives us access to a wider audience, because people are always connected to their phones, but not to their main computers. We’ve also seen better rankings on Google for our mobile site when people search on their phones.”
“Currently, four to five per cent of our visitors come from mobile devices, but we expect that proportion to increase over time.”