How to Mobilize Your Website for Success!

Up until a few years ago, if you surfed the ‘Net you used a desktop or laptop computer.  Now people are more likely to use a mobile device – smartphones, tablets and phablets – to go online.  Nearly every US adult (95%) has a cell phone and according to the Pew Research Center, the percentage of Americans owning smartphones increased from 35% in 2011 to 77% in 2016. In addition, 51% of US adults’ own tablets.

Consumers are primarily using mobile devices for mobile applications (Apps) and mobile websites. The time they are spending there has increased significantly since 2013. To keep up with this trend, businesses must have a mobile presence. The question is, should you have a mobile application, a mobile website or both.

Mobile Website or Mobile Application

A mobile website is a website designed to work well on the smaller touch-screen displays of mobile devices. It can be accessed using any mobile device browser.

A mobile application is a type of application software designed to run on a mobile device. Device owners go to online outlets such as the Apple App Store or the Android Market to download and install the app that works with their mobile device operating system.

Since most businesses already have a website, it makes practical sense to make your site mobile-friendly and use it as a key component in your mobile strategy. There are several reasons to opt for a mobile website including:

  • Cost – Because of new web design techniques, you can create a mobile website that will run beautifully on all devices. It costs more to develop a native app that will run on different operating systems (e.g., IOS, Android etc.), requiring you to develop multiple apps.
  • Broader Audience More people can access your mobile website quickly across a variety of devices. Mobile apps on the other hand must be downloaded and have to be compatible with a specific operating system.
  • FlexibilityYou can change and upgrade content quicker on a mobile website. Those changes appear immediately. With mobile apps, you must push the updates to users, which they must download for the updates to appear on their devices.
  • SEO – Your mobile website pages can be optimized for search, making it easier for your target audiences to find you. You will need to promote your mobile apps, directing users to the appropriate store for their device.
  • Shelf Life – Because your website resides on a server and not on the users phone it cannot be deleted.

A Superior User Experience

For a superior user experience, a mobile website must be intuitive, easy to read, easy to navigate and load quickly.

Responsive and adaptive design techniques have become the standard method for creating mobile friendly websites that can adjust dynamically to any sized device screen. Unfortunately, most small businesses (60%) are not mobile friendly. Mobile visitors to these sites may find the content more difficult to access, read, and interact with, creating a not so pleasant user experience.

Websites not optimized for mobile also have lower SEO rankings making it harder to find them on search engines. That is because in 2015 Google changed its search algorithm to give mobile-friendly sites higher SEO rankings. If you have a website and never updated it,  Google has developed a tool you can use to determine if your site is mobile friendly. Just enter your URL and if your site is mobile optimized it will notify you.

Making your website mobile friendly improves the user experience and increases your search engine rankings.

Content

Mobile optimization will make content easier to engage however, the content must be engaging. Because of the way that mobile devices are used and the inherent limitations of their smaller screen there needs to be a different approach for developing content for mobile websites.

Mobile devices, especially smartphones, are used on the go. Because they are on the go users want to do quick searches for specific information. Speed and ease of use are key requirements of mobile website content. Forty percent (40%) of consumers will abandon a website that takes longer than 3 seconds to load.

To make your mobile website more engaging:

  1. Start articles with short, bold attention-grabbing headlines that convey the         article’s benefits.
  2. Use short-form content in bite-sized pieces, including links to the full-length piece.
  3. Keep text to a minimum and use clean simple fonts
  4. Use as few words as possible to get your point across.
  5. A picture is worth a thousand words – use bold dynamic visuals, attention-grabbing photos and videos.

Mobile websites must compete with social media apps that capture attention with dynamic, easy to engage content that users come back for.  To mobilize your website for success, focus on creating a great user experience, deliver valuable content and make it easy for people to find you.

What are your thoughts on the role of websites in the mobile age? Are they still relevant, what other ways can they be improved? We look forward to reading your feedback and perspectives, via comments below, or lets connect on LinkedIn for further discussion.

gL Marketing Consultants specializes in video production, WordPress websites and digital marketing strategy development and implementation.

 

Powerful Marketing Tactics for Small Business Success

Power Marketing

Four major tactics that should be in small business 2017 marketing plans are customer experience, social media marketing, mobile optimization and video marketing. While there are a number of other areas of focus, these 4 can have a significant impact.

 

Increased Focus on Customer Experience and Service

Customers today expect more. They have an abundance of choices in nearly every single product category and they are firmly in control of the buying journey. They are pressed for time and with limited attention spans are seeking quick and hassle free solutions to their problems.

Leading companies will make improvements in customer service, because they must. In 2015, companies lost more than $62 billion because of poor customer service. Delivering a superior customer experience is a sustainable and cost effective way to compete and it is predicted that by 2020 customer experience will be more important than product and price as a point of difference among competitors. Further more:

  • 86% of buyers will pay more for a better experience
  • A customer is 4 times more likely to switch from a competitor if the problem is service related
  • 70% of buying experiences are based on how the customer feels they are being treated

Clearly, the companies that provide the best customer experience at every touch point from end to end will win.

Companies that have a one size fits all customer service model will be challenged trying to accommodate all four generations of consumers in the marketplace: Matures, Baby Boomers, Generation X and Millennials. Each generation is different in terms of the way they expect to engage and be served by companies. Understanding the differences will allow you to develop the optimal mix of personal touch and technology needed to provide differentiated experiences among the four.

Learning as much as possible about buyers will enable you to be more efficient with your marketing efforts. Without this “customer intelligence” marketing decisions are made on a hit or miss basis. Some things will work, most won’t. In today’s hyper competitive marketplace, the business with the most insight about consumers will succeed.

 

Social Media – Less is More

The number of social media platform continues to grow and each appeal to distinct segments in the market. It is not practical for businesses to have a presence on every platform. So, for 2017, more companies will opt for quality over quantity, actively contributing and distributing content to a smaller more manageable number of sites. This strategic and selective use of social media will be driven by a deeper understanding of what content target customers are looking for and which social media platforms they are on. Facebook, Linkedin and Twitter are the three most widely used social media platforms for business.

The rumors of Twitter’s demise have been driven by the fact that, business usage has declined since 2014. Facebook and Linkedin have had comparatively stable usage levels over the last 5 years.

Linkedin will continue to be the platform of choice for B2B marketers and Facebook will be the preferred social media channel for B2C marketers.

 

Mobile First

Smartphones and tablets are permanent accessories for today’s consumer. These devices count for just over half of Internet use. People use the technology to stay connected, gather information and make purchases. It’s not unusual for a customer’s buying journey to start on a mobile device. That’s why the trend is toward a mobile first strategy where designing a website for smartphones, tablets and mobile devices takes priority over desktop web design. Mobile responsive websites look good on all devices, load quickly, have simple navigation and are compatible with all search engines. Being mobile optimized will improve your Google ranking and ensure a better experience for your customers.

Some B2C companies that target Millennials are forgoing websites altogether and are opting to use apps on mobile devices to engage with them. A superior mobile experience might enable customers to get bids, make appointments, make payments or resolve a customer service issue. A thorough understanding of the customer base will drive decisions on which aspect of the experience should be included on mobile

 

Video is King

Cisco estimates that by 2018, 84% of Internet traffic will be video. The growth in the use of mobile devices and an increase in video apps and platforms have contributed to this trend and it can only be expected to continue. Video has become the preferred way to consume online content. People online would rather watch a video about a product than read about it. Because it is an effective and efficient way to communicate more companies will incorporate video into their marketing and distribute it over multiple channels including websites, email marketing campaigns and social media platforms.

Change is a given in the marketplace and therefore marketing must change to be effective. The 4 areas discussed will continue to impact business growth plans. Customers evolving preferences and expectations will drive the direction of marketing in 2017. Companies that understand their customers and use that insight in the 4 areas will have a distinct advantage.

 

Why Should You Focus on Customer Experience (CX)?

 

Delivering a superior customer experience (CX) is an effective way for businesses to separate themselves from their competition. Customers respond in positive ways to companies that understand their needs and deliver a seamless and consistent experience. In markets where products and services are similar, companies that focus on the customer’s experience can have a sustainable competitive advantage over those that do not.

 

There are significant revenue gains to be realized by doing right by customers because people want to do business with companies that treat them well. Satisfied customers are more loyal, tend to buy more and are more likely to refer a business that excels in delivering a quality customer experience.  A Customer Experience Impact (CEI) report found that 86% of buyers will pay more for a better customer experience.  But only 1% of customers feel that vendors consistently meet their expectations.

cx-cloud

Despite the benefits of focusing on CX, many businesses continue to come up short meeting customer expectations about being treated well. In fact, there is a huge gap between businesses and customers when it comes to CX. According to Bain & Company,  80% of companies believe they provide a superior customer experience, yet only 8% of their customers believe it.  Clearly there is an opportunity for businesses to distinguish themselves based on the experience they deliver to their customers rather than the products they sell.

 

Word of mouth is the way that most consumers get information about products, services and the companies that provide them. It is the most trusted way to get information. According to a Harris Poll, 82% of Americans seek recommendations from friends and family when considering a purchase and 67% are more likely to buy a product after friends or family have referred it. Providing a quality experience to a customer will likely result in positive word of mouth, which is more credible than any company’s paid advertising campaign. While an ad campaign runs over a defined time period, a company can delight its customers all the time.

 

The merging of digital technology and marketing has resulted in multiple interactive touch points for customers to communicate with businesses. Customers today expect and demand a seamless and consistent experience across all touch points, digital and non-digital. They want to be able to self-serve via mobile channels, but when things don’t work they want to deal with a human and basically pick up where they left off without repeating all of their information (name, address, account number, reason for the call etc.).

 

Customers

The way that customers buy has changed. The digital era enables customers to get tons of information about products and services when they are ready and able to buy. In many instances they can make purchases without ever visiting a store. Customers are also sharing their experiences (positive and negative) on social media.

 

Having an in depth understanding of customer attitudes, opinions, behaviors and expectations is critical to providing a superior experience. This data should be collected on a regular basis in a systematic way. However, there must also be a commitment to analyzing the data with the goal of developing actionable strategies and tactics to positively impact the customer experience. Customer surveys can serve as an effective early warning system for identifying service gaps. Avoid the mistake of collecting data just to find out how good you are rather than using it to identify problems, correct them and make continuous improvements to the customer experience. You can determine the effectiveness of your improvements by your customer feedback mechanisms.

 

Employees

Creating and fostering a customer focused culture is key for delivering a superior customer experience. It begins with owners and senior managers being committed to a customer focus. A prime example of this commitment is Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, who is legendary for building a customer centric company and putting customers before profits. His leadership is a key reason Amazon has been at the top of the list of the 24/7 Wall St Customer Service Hall of Fame survey for seven years in a row. Businesses seeking to establish customer centricity as a core competency would be well served following Amazon’s primary core principle, Customer Obsession whereby,

It starts by having the right people. Customer facing employee must be:

  • Internally motivated
  • Willing to take ownership of the customers well-being
  • Taking pride in what they do
  • Supremely confident in their people skills.

These are the traits to look for when building a customer experience team.

Front line employees must be empowered to make decisions, on the customer’s behalf. However, you need to have employees that are comfortable with such autonomy. Employees who prefer the safety of bureaucratic policies and procedure are better suited for administrative positions that do not involve customer contact.

Dealing with customers can be a challenging job and it takes a person with the right temperament to do it well. Satisfied employees produce satisfied customers. To keep customer facing employees engaged they must be encouraged and recognized for the work that they do. You can celebrate and highlight employees that exemplify a customer focus, by building and telling stories of their customer encounters. These provide concrete examples for others to follow and contribute to building the culture.

The Bottom Line

Customers that receive a superior experience from a company have higher satisfaction levels and are more loyal. Over time they are worth more to a small business. Studies show that it is 6-7 times more expensive to get a new customer than it is to keep an existing one. And a recent study by Walker suggests that by 2020 customer experience will be more important than price.

 

More and more companies are finding that delivering a superior customer experience is a cost effective and sustainable way to stand out in today’s hyper competitive environment. By doing ordinary things in an extraordinary way businesses can distinguish themselves in ways that customers will remember and come back for more.