Every day, more and more people are using their mobile devices to go online to find local businesses. Mobile web usage is absolutely exploding. In less than three years, more people will access the Internet via mobile devices than from desktop computers.
This shift in consumer behavior has huge upside implications for small businesses. Is your business ready for it? Do you have a mobile-friendly web site? Remember, just because your regular site is visible on a mobile device doesn’t mean it’s mobile-friendly. Mobile sites are designed specifically for the small screen. They are quick, easy to navigate and “thumb friendly,” which means they use large, centered buttons with “breathing room” to prevent accidental clicks.
The best mobile-friendly web sites make the mobile experience local. Since customers are constantly seeking local information on their phones, your mobile site should make it quick and easy for people to find you. That means it should have your address or some kind of locator right on the landing page, with directions and a map.
You should also consider using a “click-to-call” phone number for your business. Much like a “hotlink” in a piece of text will take the reader somewhere else if clicked, a “linked” phone number will automatically dial your business from the mobile device.
Recent tests of click-to-call on local business mobile sites conducted by Google and a mobile site provider called Duda Mobile (www.dudamobile.com) show that call rates for click-to-call on mobile are through the roof. For example, nearly half of all consumers who visited a taxi service’s mobile site called the company. About 32% of customers visiting a pizza restaurant mobile site called. And the call rates are high for other categories as well, including car services (28%), auto repair (22%), home repair (20%), medical services (16%), beauty and spa (13%), retail stores (12%) and restaurants (11%).
Compared to so-called “click through rates” for online ads, those call rates are enormous. And phone calls have a much higher rate of converting to actual sales as well.
Still not convinced? Here are three reasons mobile is a must for local business:
1. Mobile-friendly websites create positive customer response. Today’s consumers use their mobile devices more frequently than ever, and have high expectations for the mobile sites they visit. If your mobile site provides a good experience, it will help drive revenue for your business. Research shows that 51% of consumers are more likely to buy from a retailer that has a mobile friendly website.
But there’s also a flip side to that. About one in five mobile users say they have a negative opinion of any business that has a poor mobile site, or no mobile site. If all they find is your regular desktop site and have to squint and zoom their way through it to try and find something, while attempting to fill in a microscopic search box or press a button the size of a pinhead, they’ll move on to someone else.
2. The time to move is now. You’ve been hearing about the potential of mobile for years. Now it’s here. For example, a third of all searches for restaurants now happen on mobile. Smartphones are now a part of people’s daily lives. Studies commissioned by Google show that 87% of smartphone owners use their devices on the go, or while commuting and walking. And here’s an eye-opener: 93% of consumers now use their smartphones at home. Local businesses with mobile-friendly sites can take advantage of these new consumer habits and reach customers wherever they are throughout the day.
3. Mobile offers immediate gratification. With a “click-to-call” feature, a “clickable” phone number allows customers to reach your business with one touch. Customers are hungry for the kind of information that makes it easy for them to contact you and get to your business.
What to do Now
Google has launched a terrific program called GoMo (www.HowToGoMo.com) to help small businesses learn about mobile websites and find help setting one up. You’ll find tips, a tool to rate the quality of an existing mobile site, samples of good mobile site design, and a helpful list of vendors who can help you create a mobile presence.
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About the Author: Daniel Kehrer, Founder and Chief Content Officer of BizBest Media, is a senior-level leader in digital media, content development and online marketing with special expertise in startups, SMB, social media and generating traffic, engagement and leads. He holds an MBA from UCLA/Anderson and is a passionate entrepreneur (started 4 businesses), syndicated columnist, blogger, thought leader and author of 7 business and financial books.