Mobilizing Your Internet Marketing

When I lived in Kenya during the summer of 2007, one thing that struck me was the amount of people using cell phones for computing tasks. At a time when smart phones were just catching on (the first iPhone was released that June), it was common to see people using phones for just about everything. I was sporting a slick Razor that could store a dozen songs and that’s about it, so my laptop was everything. Things were different in Kenya. From the businesspeople in Nairobi to the people in the village hours away from the nearest major city, phones were used for everything from bank transfers to email. When I returned to Kenya in 2009 with my iPhone look-alike, the mobile market had expanded:

Things are going to be a lot different my next visit. Desktop’s grasp on the market fell steadily until mobile flipped the script at the end of 2013. Mobile devices now account for over 70% of internet use in Kenya. Let’s take at the same data in the US:

While many US users have been holding tightly to their desktops, there is no denying the mobile uprising. In Kenya, mobile devices are the primary – and usually the only – device for many Internet users, while US consumers tend to have an arsenal of devices. Even with a lower percentage of web visits completed on mobile devices in the US, the time spent on the Web using mobile devices surpassed desktop earlier this year.

Mobile has shown that it is on the rise and is already a large part of internet marketing. If this is news to you, the time to act was yesterday. We have a lot of learn from developing countries such as Kenya and paint of picture of our mobile future by looking at their past. Some of the biggest signs of the time are the ways in which Google has supported mobile devices.

Google Behind Mobile

Many online marketers have been resistant to give mobile its due credit, but users are making it clear that mobile cannot be ignored. Desktop shows no signs of becoming irrelevant by any means. In fact, the amount of web use on desktop is strong as ever, but mobile gains more momentum monthly and is taking up a larger percentage of the market. And why shouldn’t it? More and more, we seek instant gratification. If I’m walking down the street and want to get the lowdown on two different restaurants, I’m going to pull out my phone right then and there. When I’m sitting in Balboa Park and want to know more about the plants or a museum, I’m using my phone rather than waiting until I’m home. More than anything else: mobile is always convenient.

Although almost two years old, Google’s report on the multi-screen world provides some great information. For example, 40% of smart phone use was outside the home compared to 31% on desktops. The 45 page reports concludes with this: “Smartphones are the backbone of our daily media use. They are the devices most used throughout the day and serve as the most common starting point for activities across multiple screens. Going mobile has become a business imperative”. In recent years – and especially in the last few months – Google has taken action with this in mind.

As Internet marketers, one of the biggest changes we care about was the updated SERP, which signified a major step in the company’s shift to “mobile first.” Desktop SERPs are cleaner, while mobile results have similar data but presented much differently due to screen size. Dr. Pete wrote a great piece on the SERPs across devices, but the main takeaway is that above the fold real estate on mobile devices is severely limited, stressing the importance of ads, Local Listings, organic rank, and more. Since May, we have seen Webmaster Tools notifications for information regarding mobile devices, including smart phone redirects and smart phone crawl errors:

Additionally, one of our favorite tools – Page Speed Insights – notes both mobile and desktop web performance with mobile showed first.

What This Means For You

As marketers, we need to ensure that our clients’ online presence is consistent across devices. How are they showing up in SERPs on desktop and mobile, and what strategies can we employ to maximize visibility on mobile? More importantly, consider how sites are viewed on phones and tablets. At the very least, sites need to be friendly; we highly recommend responsive design. A younger, wiser me may have predicted the rise of mobile several years ago during my time in Kenya, but you know what they say about hindsight. Don’t look back on this period of time wishing you had acted. Now is the time to recognize the pervasiveness of mobile.

Why Mobile is Mandatory in 2015

Did you know that in a recent Google survey, it was found that 72 percent of mobile users say it is important to them that websites are mobile-friendly? And that of those 72 percent, a whopping 79% will return to search to find a mobile-optimized site? If that’s not enough for you to make sure your mobile strategy is on point, consider this: just last month Google began sending out mass emails to sites that aren’t mobile friendly, warning them that not going mobile carries the risk of rankings penalties. Mobile is now mandatory, especially if you’re running your business online.

A Steady Progression to a Mobile Priority

According to the PewResearchCenter, more than 58% of American adults had a smartphone in 2014, and 34% of American adults use their cell phone as their primary tool for mobile searches, rather than a laptop or desktop computer. And while it’s a no-brainer that having a mobile-friendly website creates a more favorable user experience for your target audience, what you may not know is that search engines are paying close attention to these statistics and changing their algorithms to follow suit. While reports last week of a mobile-targeted algorithm update proved to be a false alarm, it wouldn’t be shocking to see the headlines come to reality in early 2015. Think about it. It’s ultimately the goal of search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing to deliver the best possible result for their users, one that is informative and helpful. So it’s only a natural progression that search engines would want to stop showing websites that aren’t mobile friendly. Their users don’t like it, why should they rank it? Google’s announcement that they will no longer rank non-mobile friendly websites on smartphone searches is just the next step in their steady progression to supporting mobile usability.  Google has been slowly but surely gearing up for an all-mobile world over the past few years and kicked it into high gear in late 2014.  In September, the search giant tested smartphone-friendly icons in search results. Then, in October they took it in another direction by testing non-mobile friendly icons to give users a heads up that their user experience might be less than the best. They also incorporated a mobile usability section into Webmaster Tools to help site owners understand areas for improvement. In November, Google released the mobile test tool, which allowed site owners to get a “grade” on their mobile usability and provided suggested quick-fixes to help them get up to snuff. This all culminated with the announcement that Google will in fact take usability into effect when ranking on mobile, and put to bed the long-standing mystery as to when Google would actually make the move.

More Reasons Why You Need to Go Mobile

While it remains to be seen if desktop rankings will also be affected by the change, it’s clear that to dominate in your business, your mobile strategy needs to be on point. As more and more consumers come to expect a streamlined experience on mobile and desktop, their buying behavior is reflecting it. Non-mobile sites can give an aura of being outdated, hurting the always-important “trust factor” of your website – and keeping users’ credit cards in their wallets. In the same Google survey mentioned above, 55% of respondents said that not having a mobile friendly website, damages their perception of the brand overall – meaning a brand’s slow adaptation to mobile commerce could result in reverberating repercussions.

So, How Do You Get There?

So now that you know you need a mobile strategy. Where to begin? The task can seem daunting for large and small businesses alike, but in fact taking even small steps toward mobile usability can lead to big returns.

Start with an Audit

If you’re looking to evaluate the health of your mobile strategy, one of the best places to start is with Google’s mobile test tool. This tool will grade your website on its mobile usability and specifically pinpoint areas for improvement. While some will require intensive technical work, others can actually be quick fixes. Also, take a look at your mobile traffic in Google Analytics, and compare metrics such as time on site, bounce rate, and goal conversions to that of desktop traffic. Evaluating how your users are behaving on your website, as well as how you would actually like them to behave, is a great way to help you prioritize tasks in the mobile transition. For example, are users diving right into the contact page? Adding an immediate call to action on the homepage can eliminate an extra step and help you shore up more leads.

Put Yourself in Your Users’ Shoes

Though it can be difficult to objectively view your website, visiting the site on mobile and going through the actual steps you would like consumers to take it a great way to identify any pain points or areas of improvement. Chances are, if you find a particular item confusing or frustrating, your users are as well. Make this a task for your employees or trusted friends, as well, and have them identify what they felt was left to be desired. This allows you to collect data from different devices and different points of view.

Explore Your Options

After you’ve gathered this data, you will be able to make a more informed decision about the best way to pursue your mobile strategy – whether it requires a complete overhaul or some quick fixes. Businesses that are looking for a relatively quick and inexpensive solution can explore “converter” tools such as DudaMobile, bMobilized and WompMobile, which use their own software to serve up a responsive design to users. Other options include creating an app, creating a mobile subdomain or subfolder, or building a responsive website design. Often times, responsive design is the most comprehensive and best long-term solution for mobile, however each business has unique needs that must be taken into account. At the rate of mobile growth and search engine changes in response, it appears the only real wrong decision for mobile is not making one. So if you’re looking for ways to boost revenue or even maintain revenue in 2015 and beyond, it all may just start with a look at your smartphone.

Mobilizing Your Internet Marketing

When I lived in Kenya during the summer of 2007, one thing that struck me was the amount of people using cell phones for computing tasks. At a time when smart phones were just catching on (the first iPhone was released that June), it was common to see people using phones for just about everything. I was sporting a slick Razor that could store a dozen songs and that’s about it, so my laptop was everything. Things were different in Kenya. From the businesspeople in Nairobi to the people in the village hours away from the nearest major city, phones were used for everything from bank transfers to email. When I returned to Kenya in 2009 with my iPhone look-alike, the mobile market had expanded:

Things are going to be a lot different my next visit. Desktop’s grasp on the market fell steadily until mobile flipped the script at the end of 2013. Mobile devices now account for over 70% of internet use in Kenya. Let’s take at the same data in the US:

While many US users have been holding tightly to their desktops, there is no denying the mobile uprising. In Kenya, mobile devices are the primary – and usually the only – device for many Internet users, while US consumers tend to have an arsenal of devices. Even with a lower percentage of web visits completed on mobile devices in the US, the time spent on the Web using mobile devices surpassed desktop earlier this year.

Mobile has shown that it is on the rise and is already a large part of internet marketing. If this is news to you, the time to act was yesterday. We have a lot of learn from developing countries such as Kenya and paint of picture of our mobile future by looking at their past. Some of the biggest signs of the time are the ways in which Google has supported mobile devices.

Google Behind Mobile

Many online marketers have been resistant to give mobile its due credit, but users are making it clear that mobile cannot be ignored. Desktop shows no signs of becoming irrelevant by any means. In fact, the amount of web use on desktop is strong as ever, but mobile gains more momentum monthly and is taking up a larger percentage of the market. And why shouldn’t it? More and more, we seek instant gratification. If I’m walking down the street and want to get the lowdown on two different restaurants, I’m going to pull out my phone right then and there. When I’m sitting in Balboa Park and want to know more about the plants or a museum, I’m using my phone rather than waiting until I’m home. More than anything else: mobile is always convenient.

Although almost two years old, Google’s report on the multi-screen world provides some great information. For example, 40% of smart phone use was outside the home compared to 31% on desktops. The 45 page reports concludes with this: “Smartphones are the backbone of our daily media use. They are the devices most used throughout the day and serve as the most common starting point for activities across multiple screens. Going mobile has become a business imperative”. In recent years – and especially in the last few months – Google has taken action with this in mind.

As Internet marketers, one of the biggest changes we care about was the updated SERP, which signified a major step in the company’s shift to “mobile first.” Desktop SERPs are cleaner, while mobile results have similar data but presented much differently due to screen size. Dr. Pete wrote a great piece on the SERPs across devices, but the main takeaway is that above the fold real estate on mobile devices is severely limited, stressing the importance of ads, Local Listings, organic rank, and more. Since May, we have seen Webmaster Tools notifications for information regarding mobile devices, including smart phone redirects and smart phone crawl errors:

Additionally, one of our favorite tools – Page Speed Insights – notes both mobile and desktop web performance with mobile showed first.

What This Means For You

As marketers, we need to ensure that our clients’ online presence is consistent across devices. How are they showing up in SERPs on desktop and mobile, and what strategies can we employ to maximize visibility on mobile? More importantly, consider how sites are viewed on phones and tablets. At the very least, sites need to be friendly; we highly recommend responsive design. A younger, wiser me may have predicted the rise of mobile several years ago during my time in Kenya, but you know what they say about hindsight. Don’t look back on this period of time wishing you had acted. Now is the time to recognize the pervasiveness of mobile.