As a small business owner you’ve probably already had someone knocking on your door, emailing you or calling you to get a mobile website.
If you haven’t already, believe me it’s coming and they are going to try and sell you on how they can build you a mobile site so that you can connect with your audience while they are on-the-go.
Now while this is 100% true , I want you to understand why you should be listening to them even though their sales pitch probably sucks more times than not. Now, it’s important to note that you shouldn’t settle on who you work with to mobilize your site. You want to find the right partner, freelancer or solution that fits your needs and budget.
As a business owner mobile, can be your best friend. In fact, I’ll bet you that when done right you’ll get more results compared to your social media efforts.
“But social media is free” you might say. The only way social media is free if you value your own time and energy at $0. Social media is not free, period.
Now I’m not here to bash on social media because mobile is very much social and you should understand that. I’m not even telling you that you should stop your social media efforts.
What I’m saying is that when you approach mobile the right way it can have a significant impact on your business.
As a small business owner, here are some things you should know about mobile marketing.
Mobile is not about technology
It’s not about the iPhone, the iPad, your Galaxy tablet, a smartphone application or a QR code. It’s very easy to get caught up in new shiny objects. Believe me because I have done it as well…we all do.
When you’re passionate about growing your businesses it’s sometimes easy to lose yourself in what a new tool, product or service will do for you…so much in fact that we get lost in believing that it’s a magic bullet and can “be the difference maker”.
You see, mobile is really about your audience. Watch your audience as they interact with you OR ask them how and where they engage with your content. It could be from their couch, their office, while they are driving or even working out. If you don’t know where your customer spends their time you need to create customer and mobile personas to help guide you.
Mobile is about how we, as consumers now live our lives and have endless information at our fingertips. It’s about:
- How mobile internet usage will overtake desktop by 2014.
- It’s about how 80% don’t leave their home without their mobile device.
- It’s how 97% of smartphone use is at home, 83% on the go and 78% in stores.
As a small business owner these behaviors can have a dramatic impact for you. Why?
- 70% of mobile searchers connected with a business; 52% called the business or service; 50% looked the business up on a map or got directions. This is super important if you’re a local business with a physical location.
- 66% of mobile searchers visited the business; 48% visited the website of the business.
- 36% of mobile searchers made a purchase.
- 74% of consumers will wait 5 seconds for a web page to load on their mobile device before abandoning the site.
- 46% of consumers are unlikely to return to a mobile if it didn’t work properly during their last visit.
This all equals opportunity. And if you’re curious as to where these stats came from all the sources can be found here.
Mobile is an opportunity to convert a searcher into a customer unlike any channel before.
If you don’t consider how consumers are interacting with you from their mobile device you may never have the chance to convert them to a customer again.
As a business owner thinking about mobile, consider three things:
- Access. Consumers MUST be able to access your content from their phone. That basically means make sure you have a mobile-friendly site.
- Interact. How can you create engagement and interaction with customers from their mobile device that delivers value and drives action? If you have an amazing offer for them but they can’t interact with your site to find it you’re missing an opportunity.
- Enhance. Remember they are on their mobile device. How can you use things like location to possibly enhance your customers experience?
Mobile is about screen resolution & context
With so many new devices hitting the market it’s not about having an iPhone strategy or an Android strategy although you may approach each of those platforms differently.
As a business owner you need to consider the screen resolution and context of your audience when they interact with you.
Screen resolutions will continue to evolve and because of that we’ll find ourselves as consumers in different contextual scenarios when consuming content.
It’s been stated that 75% of people have used their mobile phone while on the toilet at least once.
In fact 1 in four people always use their phone when on the toilet. Are you guilty of this? Leave a comment in the section below if this is you. Just kidding but it would prove to be entertaining.
As you incorporate mobility and create mobile specific programs for your business, I challenge you to really understand the context of the situation your customer might be in when engaging with you and how you might be able to better serve that person knowing that context.
For example, as a restaurant owner, most times a searcher finds you from their mobile device they’re either going to call to make a reservation or find out how to get to you via directions.
That means that they’ve already made the decision to dine with you and you just need close the deal by letting them make an appointment.
If you’re a blogger that teaches biology you may want to offer a shorter study guide on-the-go that your students can leverage while they are on public transportation or studying in a coffee shop.
If you’re a podcaster, maybe you want to do offer audio blogs where you read your content so people can listen vs reading. My friends Jeremy and Jason do a great job of this over at Internet Business Mastery.
The what in business hasn’t changed. The how has.
When we’re dealing with something new, that is changing everyday like mobile is, it’s easy to forget why you’re even thinking about how it’s important to your business in the first place.
I’m guilty of this too. I live and breathe this stuff so when a new technology comes out I want to use it right away and sometimes forget to think about how it will apply to my overall business goals of growing Mobile Mixed. I’m sure you’ve caught yourself doing the same. It’s ok to get excited but always come back to how it’s going to make a difference in your business.
The best way to dive into mobile is to remember that the “what” of your business hasn’t changed. You’re most likely still selling a product or service. The shoe store down the street has and will always be selling shoes. How the shoes are sold today compared to 5 years ago is what has changed. If you’re a business coach or consultant, you still want to sell coaching or strategic services.
Now it’s your turn. Think about WHAT your business is meant to do. You’re obviously selling something at some point so think about how you can use mobile to sell more effectively.
Most people get started in mobile by jumping right to the tactics when that’s actually the biggest mistake made in mobile marketing.
It’s so easy to get stuck doing nothing because of paralysis of analysis. So when you get started think about mobilizing something that you already do in your business. A hint, if your website is your home base, start making it mobile friendly.
As an online marketer your list is probably important to your business. Have you made your email mobile-friendly yet? Try producing a podcast and like I said earlier, try an audio blog where you read your blog posts so people can listen instead. It’s actually refreshing to listen to someone read their blog post instead of just having another tab open that I need to get to later.
Your site MUST be mobile-friendly. Responsive? Maybe…
There is a lot of debate right now about responsive design and how it’s the best solution to have a mobile-friendly site.
It’s important as a small business owner to try and not get caught up in all of this because it’s really only going to slow you down.
“As a small business should I create a responsive site?”
The answer is…it depends.
Responsive design is still fairly new and might be challenging for you unless you are either A.) buy a responsive theme from a site like StudioPress or Theme Forest or B.) you have access to a good web designer that is willing to build out a solution for you at a reasonable cost.
Mobile Mixed is built using a responsive theme from Studiopress BUT I’ll still be there first to tell you that it may not be right for YOUR business especially if you have some sort of local presence.
As an online business builder going responsive will almost always be your best bet but you may end up creating mobile specific landing pages depending on your objectives.
I’d like to share some typical benefits often stated for going responsive AND the common arguments against each. Note these are not all the benefits, just the ones I tend to see the most.
There are valid points being made from both parties but I wanted to first share what is most commonly being discussed and then offer my insights as you navigate the waters for your business.
Responsive benefit 1: Users get the full experience. Many will argue that nothing is more frustrating than trying to find something on a mobile site and having to go to the “full site” to find it. Some people think that it’s a myth that users aren’t interested in the full experience and only wanted limited information. if you have a responsive site, your audience will get the same experience no matter what device they are using.
Argument against responsive: You may ACTUALLY know that users don’t want the full experience because of your analytics. Retailers like 1-800 Flowers don’t offer the full experience because their data shows that their customers don’t use or request the full experience. They’ve even removed things from their mobile site because they saw nobody using them. As a local business your mobile site is more of a conversion tool than anything else making a separate site a very cost effective solution for you. Just make sure your audience wouldn’t need a unique experience from their phone and make your decision based on that.
Responsive benefit 2: Responsive design is better for SEO. This argument is made due to a separate mobile site redirecting to a separate URL such as an “m.domain.com”. It’s funny because most people that state this as a benefit then refer to a recent google quote:
Google recommends webmasters follow the industry best practice of responsive web design, namely serving the same HTML for all devices and using only CSS media quieries to decide the rendering of each device.
Not sure about you but the quote didn’t mention anything about it being for SEO.
Argument against responsive: My buddy Bryson Meunier recently wrote about when responsive design is bad for SEO. This dude is a veteran search expert and helps many small businesses. He raises a lot of good arguments for having a separate site for your small business. The key takeaway here is that the one URL argument is, as bryson mentiones, “malarkey!”.
In fact, google said they prefer responsive design and if it’s not best for your user, then they support dynamic servering and mobile URLs such as m dots. The one URL argument is moot because Google introduced something called swithboard tags and they can now understand which site should appear when, regardless of URL structure. For more on this check out this article.
Responsive benefit 3: Your content looks better. The argument here is that using plugins and services to mobilize your site often don’t look nice. Responsive offers the same style on your mobile phone that is on your desktop.
Argument against responsive: It only looks bad if you let it look bad. There are plenty of services out there such as Duda Mobile and Bluetrain Mobile that allow you to make great looking mobile sites for your small to medium sized business. If you spend just a little time with them you can make a beautiful site that meets your customers needs. I highly recommend local businesses checking out Duda Mobile as it’s extremely affordable.
Ok, so these are just three benefits I constanlty see and there are plenty more. Brad Frost, a recent podcast guest, is a thought leader on responsive and future-friendly design and he even says it depends. I highly recommend you follow him if you want to continue down the road of responsive as he is the man.
When your small business should build a responsive site vs a separate site.
So, which types of businesses should consider responsive vs a separate site?
If it were me, I’d go with responsive design if:
- You have a content based site like a news source (eg. Boston Globe, Smashing Magazine)
- You’re an agency
- You’re a photographer
- You’re a blogger, content marketer, podcaster or mediapreneur (Mobile Mixed and Think Traffic are responsive examples. You’ll notice Think Traffic is nicer because it was custom vs Mobile Mixed which is a theme. Themes have limitations.
If it were me, I’d go with a separate mobile site if:
- If you’re a local service based business (e.g. salon, restaurant, plumber, doctor)
- If you’re a retailer with a lot of SKU’s (or products) this has proven difficult and expensive to do responsively. This will change in the future.
- If you own a restaurant or bar (Listen to this episode if this is you. )
Ultimately, if you’re a local business, separate sites will be much more cost effective and can dramatically increase conversion as they can be designed to convert for specific user needs.
Now, if you have the budget and or resources responsive should be something you at least consider. A good example is if you’re best friend is a rockstar designer and willing to do it for an affordable cost. 😉
No matter what you choose you MUST understand that mobile is different and the way we use our mobile device and look for content from our phones is different then a desktop.
Consider those differences and make sure you’re not compromising the mobile users experience just because you want to use responsive design.
More to come on this topic in future posts.
Just because you’re small doesn’t mean you don’t need strategy.
Just because you’re a small business owner doesn’t mean you should dive into tactics. Having a strategy is going to be critical in how successful you are implementing mobile.
Defining your business objective is the first step in creating a strategy. Are you trying to increase sales? Generate leads? Connect with a new younger demographic?
Creating business objectives come down to 3 things.
- Make them measurable and quantifiable. As a small business owner you can’t measure a goal of “increase leads”. Something like “increase leads by 15%” is much more measureable
- Associate a timeframe. Applying a time frame makes you accountable and makes the measuring part much easier. Example: “Increase leads by 15% in 6 months”.
- Be realistic. Look yourself in the mirror, look at your historical performance and look at your competition. If 15% is not realistic get real with yourself. Maybe try 5%.
Successful mobile initiatives contain all areas of what I call The Mobile Success Pyramid:
Let’s break each section of the pyramid down.
Strategy: At the foundation you have your strategy. This includes having identified your objectives, customer and mobile personas, and your unique value proposition.
Tactics: Looking at your strategy you have to determine which tactics resonate with your customer personas. Your customer may be an app user, they may not. For example, if your ultimate customer is 65 years old, you may not be dealing with hard core app users. You should think about voice.
You’ll want to make a list of tactics and use that as a lens to how each of your customer persona’s use their mobile device.
Integration: Mobile is one of the most complimentary channels that exists to date. It is most powerful when integrated with other channels you’re already using. Look at your current marketing spend and see where you can add mobile call-to-actions and potentially make non-interactive experiences more interactive by bringing them online via the mobile device.
Think about the radio broadcasters that leverage text call-to-actions to build their database. Mobile is a great way for broadcasters AND podcasters to acquire users while people are listening on the go.
CRM: As a small business owner, CRM (customer relationship management) gets a bit harder BUT your goal is to leverage all the information you have about your customers to deliver the right message, to the right person, at the right time.
This can be accomplished by tracking interests, by having segmented lists or even capturing customer preferences in a sign up process.
The point is that over time as you’re implementing marketing programs you’re able to deliver the most relevant messaging.
An important final note
Well, first take a deep breath since you just made it to the end of this super long post. High five!
As you can tell success with mobile starts well before you get to the tactics like most successful marketing strategies.
As long as you begin with the right mindset discussed above you will be putting yourself in the best possible position to succeed with mobile.
Once you start understanding how the tools work, you’ll easily begin to align which tools and tactics will help you reach your desired goal and will resonante with your audience.
Now it’s on you!
Understanding the above is going to be critical to your success BUT you need to take ACTION. If you’re going to get started here a few things you should focus on:
- Think about how the Mobile Success Pyramid applies to your business and write out how you will address each section.
- Make the move to a mobile-friendly website. Whether you leverage responsive design or create a separate mobile site, consider what a customer would need to accomplish in that particular context.
I am hoping a number of questions or comments come in from this post, so please be patient for my response while I catch up on some sleep. It’s has been a long night putting all of this together for you, but I love it. If someone asks a question and you know the answer or have something to say, please don’t be shy. We’re all here to help each other go mobile!