While there may not be one single, definitive stat available out there about just how much web traffic is “mobile”, a recent Google search (results pictured at right) shows various media outlets citing between 28% and 55% of all internet usage coming from mobile devices – and that number is significant at even the smallest estimate.
So how can small businesses ensure that their online marketing efforts are mobile-friendly and more importantly, friendly to mobile users? These five tips will help – and be sure to revisit them often as the mobile landscape changes every time another app becomes a category leader or a fancy new device hits the market.
- Fill in all the blanks. Every single one of them. This general “fill in all the blanks” rule of thumb applies to any profile you set up. Setting up an Instagram account for the first time? Great. Tap that “Edit Your Profile” button and fill in your business name, website address, and profile picture. And please, don’t skimp on the bio! Put your physical address if your business operates out of one, your general locale if not, and anything else you can fit in the space allotted that might tell first time visitors something of value about your business. Should hours of operation be included here? You betcha, retailers and restaurateurs!
- Think like a first-time visitor – and assume they know nothing about your business. This really happened to me a few weeks ago: I follow a local coffee shop on Instagram that at the time, I’d never been to before, so I decided to try them out. I tapped on their Instagram profile and there was no address. Bummer. So I visited their website – which was a responsive design, so it rendered nicely on my iPhone. Great! But you know what wasn’t great? Their address wasn’t on their website or listed on Google yet. (For real?) So I had to pinch and zoom on an illustrated map to try and figure out where to point my GPS to… what an utter failure. How many potential customers do you think they’ve already lost to the dozens of other easily locatable Starbucks because of this exact scenario? The same goes for your phone number, contact email address, hours of operation, and anything else your customers could ever need to know to do business with you. (See previous tip #1.) For local businesses, I always recommend having the address and phone number in the footer – so it shows up on every page of the website – also a link to a contact form is great!
- Review on all of the devices you can possibly get your hands on. Good for you for springing for the responsive design in your website build or that nice monthly service that reworks your site for mobile devices. I’m sure it looks just dandy on your iPhone. But what about the new Android device? Or an iPad? Or your cousin’s Blackberry? While there’s no need to spend a fortune supporting fringe devices, this is your business we’re talking about here, so you should still have an idea of how your site and any profiles you have established for your business looks on as many devices as possible and try to ensure at least a minimally-functional experience for as many people as possible. While we cannot control the devices our audience chooses to adopt, we can however control what our online presence looks like in the palm of their hands.
- Participate often. How will you know when Twitter changes how things work on their mobile app or that emails can now contain really striking moving images across a solid number of email clients? By participating often and keeping your eyes open. One thing you might have missed recently? Foursquare checkins, which garnered some great competition for mayorship and other perks among local restaurant patrons, have now been moved to a second app from the company called “Swarm”. Again, we can’t control how others behave when it comes to the tools we use to market our businesses, but we can be alert to changes and ready to pivot and adjust tactics to remain competitive in using them to our advantage. One way to be alert to those changes is by regularly participating in using the platforms that have the ability to impact your business the most – this varies by industry, so talk to your consumers/customers/clients/patrons to ask how they found out about you, and give it a try yourself.
- Remember this: a marketers work is never done. Just when you think you’ve got your website buttoned up and your social media profiles all tricked out with need-to-know information, something new will pop up or you’ll find a better way to do something. (Just last week I spent an hour trimming down excessive text from my own website to make sure that when potential clients visit, they can find the most pertinent info fast.) Keep your eyes and ears open to new ways to promote your business and reflect on how you are interacting with your mobile device as an end-user yourself. Take notes of the really good, and really bad, experiences you have and learn from them. Apply the good ideas to your business where you can and learn from others’ mistakes so you can limit the mistakes you’ll undoubtedly make yourself along the way.