Building Your Mobile Presence 101: Understanding the Basics

With the rise of smartphones, businesses are now taking their marketing tactics on-the-go and embracing the mobile channel. Recently, in fact, smartphones overtook PC sales for the first time ever, MediaPost reported. Confronted with this reality, it’s no surprise that more and more marketers are upping the ante by building impressive mobile Web presences.

As you move into the mobile world, there are a lot of important decisions to make in this process: Should we have a separate mobile website, or try to optimize our website for both desktop and mobile? Is an App the way to go? What are the benefits to having a mobile presence in the first place?

In this post, we’ll go over the pros and cons of the mobile web and mobile webpages, the rise of Apps, and some great examples of mobile websites.

Pros and and Cons of Mobile Web

Cons:

  • Small display size with no left-to-right scrolling
  • Formatting issues – ie, many websites do not appear on mobile browsers they way they were designed to look
  • No windows and tabs
  • Many phones don’t support flash or videos
  • Many sites require wifi at all times to work

Pros:

  • Mobility — Access your customers anywhere, anytime
  • Gives customers the ability to react instantly with your brand using QR codes
  • Phone numbers are clickable on many phones — great for generating phone leads
  • Presents clutter-free marketing messages
  • Interaction: prospects can post videos, photos, and messages instantly
  • Social Media: mobile devices give consumers an easy way to send out your message to their friends Twitter, Facebook and other social media sites!

As you can see, the biggest drawback of mobile web is that it’s still trying to catch up to the sophistication of PC-based Web and Web browsers. Plus, you’re dealing with smaller hardware and screen size when compared to a standard PC. However, as smartphones progress over time, I think it’s safe to say that these negatives will eventually be a thing of the past.

The pros are enormous – for the first time ever, you can reach your audience from anywhere in the world! They can interact with you and instantly respond no matter where they are.

Mobile Takeover

According to the CDC, 40% Americans age 18 to 24 and 30 to 34  live in a household with only a mobile phone. This number is higher for 25-19 year olds – 51%! (Source: technology.ezinemark.com). And its not just phones, but smartphones. Nelson has reported that by the end of 2011, half of mobile users will have some type of smartphone and will only grow from there (Source: blog.nielsen.com).

Moreover, people are now using cell phones not only as their only phone line, but are using it more like a pocked-sized PC. According to the IT research firm Gartner, sales of smartphones are set to outpace sales of desktop computers by 2012 (Source: Reuters.com).

Now that we know the benefits and setbacks of mobile web, it’s time to look into how your business can successfully tap into this growing channel.

What Makes a Mobile Site Different?

Mobile versions of websites are typically simplistic, and entirely separate, versions of the PC website. You might have noticed, but the actual Web address of mobile websites usually begins with an “m.” to specify mobile – eg, http://m.cnn.com/ (CNN’s Mobile website). In other words, most companies actually host two separate websites, a mobile version and a desktop version. The way it works is if you visit the company’s website, special sniffer technology will detect the type of browser you are using – hence determining whether you are a mobile or desktop visitor – and redirect you to the appropriate versi0n of the website.

These simply laid-out mobile websites are ideal for phones because:

  • There’s less load time
  • The page fits the screen properly (no need to zoom out to look at everything)
  • The simplistic layout allows people to focus on important information without distraction
  • All scrolling is vertical – no need to scroll left-to-right

Mobile Applications (Apps)

In the smartphone world, apps are taking over. As we reported earlier on a previous post, market research firm Gartner forecasts that world-wide mobile app revenues will triple from $5.2 billion last year to $15 billion in 2011, and keep growing to an astounding $58 billion by 2014 (source: techcrunch.com).

But should your business spend the time and money to create an app or its is best to just have a browser-based mobile site?

Go with the app if:

  • You want the look and feel of a real website
  • You want a rich, interactive experience for your users
  • You’re selling something – it’s much easier to have a clean workflow to checkout with an app than it is with a mobile site (hint: download Amazon’s or Fresh Direct’s app if you want to see a good example)
  • You have the audience that would download an app
  • You have the marketing bandwidth, firepower and expertise to promote the app
  • You want to make money off the downloading the app

Go with the Mobile Site if:

  • You only want to provide basic information – ie, as a quick reference
  • If you frequently update your layout, design, or information
  • You don’t expect users to do anything complicated while on your mobile site (such as buy something, make a doctor’s appointment, etc.)

Some Great Mobile Websites Examples

Need some examples of great mobile sites? Get on your smartphone and visit these sites:

Amazon's Mobile Site

  • cnn.com
  • moviefone.com
  • facebook.com
  • amazon.com
  • twitter.com

Some Great App Examples

Have a smartphone handy? Download these apps to see some examples of some of the best apps out there:

  • Facebook
  • Pandora
  • Netflix
  • Amazon
  • Ebay
  • USPS Mobile

Time released a list of the top 50 apps for 2011, check it out here.

Building a Mobile Presence with Easypurl.com

As a EasyPurl client, we give you access to mobile templates to create mobile webpages and landing pages for your direct response campaigns – that even can be personalized! Also, our Client Services team can help you create and app for your business that uses the power of personalization. Contact us at info@easypurl.com for more information.

How has your company dealt with the mobile web? What has and hasn’t been successful? Let us know in the comments!

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