Last year, a significant milestone in internet history occurred. The funny thing is, many people didn’t even notice. Maybe they were too busy looking at their smartphones?
May, 2015, marked the first time ever when more people accessed the internet with their smartphones than with their desktop or laptop computers. This is according to a Google report which measured Internet use and access in the US, Japan and eight other countries.
If there was ever any doubt about mobile, that doubt is now erased. Mobile devices have been outselling desktop and laptop computers for several years now. But last year is the first time their use has eclipsed that of traditional devices.
Optimizing your sites for mobile is no longer optional. If your sites aren’t mobile friendly, you’ll miss out on a majority of the marketplace. Fortunately, there’s a secret to making your brand mobile-friendly. That secret? People. Here’s more:
What does Mobile-Friendly Mean?
Sure, the general idea is obvious. A mobile-friendly site is one which displays well on a smartphone or tablet. But what specifically does that mean?
A mobile-friendly site:
- loads quickly
- displays without the need for left/right scrolling
- uses a clean, large font which is easy to read
- has navigation buttons large enough to tap
- has no Flash content
- has no pop-up ads for an app
This is the bare minimum required in order to be considered mobile-friendly. Sites are strongly urged to do more. This means optimizing for mobile.
How Do You Optimize a Site for Mobile?
Mobile users are, well, mobile. They’re not at home. Instead, they’re out in the community where they’re shopping, looking for a restaurant or otherwise on the move. Mobile optimization is interconnected with various Local SEO strategies.
Optimizing for mobile generally means including maps and other navigation information. Users also want hours of operation, store contact information and click-to-call functionality. Google gives a fairly concise guideline for mobile optimization.
How Do People Use Mobile Search?
Mobile users either “push” or “pull.” These are marketing terms describing the path between customer and product.
A “push” is when a customer knows what product or service they want, but they’re searching for the best deal/specific features/etc. If your brand can offer them what they’re searching for, you’re in a prime position to make a sale.
A mobile example here would be a person who is searching for a place to eat in a certain area. They may have some preference but they’re mainly interested in geography, price and availability. If you can meet their needs, they’ll choose your location.
A “pull” is when the brand reaches out towards potential customers. The service or product might be completely unknown to the person being “pulled.” They simply fit into a target group of people who the brand wants to reach.
A mobile example here is a person who passes an electronic billboard which then sends them an unexpected message on their smart device. The objective is to pull the person into the conversion stream.
What Do Your Customers Need?
The technology to “pull” mobile technology is pretty complex. So in most cases you’ll be dealing with “push” techniques. But not all push techniques are the same. You’ll need to understand your audience.
One of the most effective ways to understand your audience is to create a buyer persona. This is a fictional customer who is interested in your products. You’ll need to “know” the following about your imaginary customer:
- Location (a general area)
- Where they use your site (at home, work, etc.)
- How they found your site (direct search, social media, etc.)
- What do they want from you site
Creating an accurate customer persona can’t be done overnight. You’ll need to refine your personas as data becomes available. Fortunately, data on your customers is pretty easy to come by. Look to:
- Website analytics
- Social media
- Customer survey (post purchase)
What is Your Customer’s Journey?
After you’ve created a workable customer persona, you’ll next want to chart their “journey.” This is usually a metaphorical “journey” except in the case of mobile, where we want to literally trace the customer’s steps around town.
The customer journey has six steps:
- Awareness of the brand
- Consideration of the product
- Research into the specifics
- Service (if necessary)
A Case Study
Here’s a typical mobile scenario. A customer is in a certain part of town with a few of his friends. They’re looking for a restaurant which has good reviews, plenty of seating and TV’s showing the big game.
You own a sports bar in the area. Your place caters to these guys. You’re also open and right around the corner. The problem is the group of potential customers has never heard of your bar. So what can you do?
First, there’s geography. You can’t control where your potential customers are, but you do have some influence as to how easily you’re found. Use as many variations of local place names as possible. This includes nicknames, parts of town, local landmarks and more. Using these terms helps solidify your location to the search engines.
You’ll also want your contact info prominently displayed. This group of guys around the corner from your bar might not know the specific street address, but if they can click a button and get instant directions, you’ll guide them right to your front door.
You’ll also want one-click calling. These customers want a place to go right now. They might call ahead to make sure seats are available.
Finally, customers are going to want reassurance that you have a nice place. Impartial reviews are your best course of action here. If you need help, check out our guide The Do’s and Don’ts of Local Reviews.
Always Create that Personal Connection
The technology behind creating a mobile-friendly site is important. But never forget that your ultimate goal is to connect with the person behind the smart device. When you understand who they are and what they want, you can make informed marketing decisions.
Use analytics and social media to create a comprehensive customer persona. Then design your mobile site around this imaginary customer. Refine as more real world data comes in, and continually tweak your approach. Soon enough, you’ll be able to deliver the experience your customer wants – and that will make you stand out from the competition.