The mobile web is growing eight times the speed of the "original" web. It's time you understood what this truly means for business.
Outlandish stats abound around smartphone adoption across the globe. It seems we all have one, or at the very least, want one. The mobile web has fast become the newest and most dynamic frontier for online business.
And as with any new frontier, there will be those who understand the terrain and find riches and those who don’t … and find rocks.
Back at the start of the web itself - the original gold rush - there was, without question, a fervent scramble for the riches. Developers were kings, money gushed, bubbles grew and investors became very rich, or very poor, very quickly.
Conjecture was rife around the revolutionary potential of the net for global commerce. Business bought into the idea of appealing to a new, global crowd of salivating consumers who were just a few clicks away. This hysteria spawned the greats such as Amazon, Ebay, Google and spurned the not-so-greats, such as boo and webvan.com.
With a growth rate of eight times the speed of the original web - yes, you did read that correctly - the mobile web is a phenomenon all of its own with, some might say, the potential to have an even more dramatic effect on the relationships between consumers and suppliers than anything that’s gone before.
The reason? Even beyond the staggering levels of growth, users of the mobile web are no longer the wide-eyed, star struck dunderheads who would marvel at a moving image on their computer screen in the 90s, they are now informed, impatient and agile and the mobile web is rapidly becoming their new playground.
Just look at the stats (provided by the Compuware Corporation):
71 per cent of users expected websites to load as quickly on their mobile phones as their desktops.
74 per cent are willing to wait five seconds or less for a page to load.
46 per cent would be unlikely to return to a website they had trouble accessing via their phone and 34 per cent said they’d likely visit a competitor’s mobile site instead.
Scary stuff, indeed.
In the fast lane
While the wince-inducing damage an inadequate mobile web presence can have on a business is being documented, for those that are doing it right, it seems the positive payoffs can be just as significant.
A recent study by web analytics solution KISSmetrics showed that a site optimised for mobiles is able to generate almost twice the average page views per user than sites which haven’t. And it’s not just user engagement which is enhanced; the research suggested that, on average, visitors are 51 per cent more likely to actually do business with an online retailer if it has a mobile site.
So, mobile optimisation is good, no mobile optimisation is bad. Staggering then that, in a study carried out by Magus in partnership with Investis, still only 20 per cent of the UK’s largest corporations currently provide support for mobile devices.
Late to the party
This apparent lack of savvy and foresight within large business to "get mobile" goes beyond a missed memo in the marketing department. The sheer speed of growth of the mobile web has meant that even larger businesses with strong strategic focus and awareness of the opportunities are struggling to keep pace with a domain that’s evolving so rapidly.
Businesses are also having to re-educate themselves. They have to evaluate how to best transfer the functionality and consumer experience, which has been developed for their desktop websites, to the different priorities and requirements of their mobile visitors. Get it wrong and rush out something which misses the mark and you'll risk doing more harm than good.
And the winners are…
As is the case with any new frontier, business leaders who see the future and put their money where their telepathy tells them to will see the greatest benefits in the gold rush. With the current rate of mobile web growth, even brand new enterprises, which enter the field fully understanding the mobile game, will likely enjoy huge rewards while recognisable heavyweights which don’t catch on quickly enough will see themselves slipping out of view.
Go mobile now
Unlike the early days of web adoption, where getting a company website up and running was potentially time consuming and costly, getting a mobile optimised site can be cheap and quick.
Using a DIY tool, a mobile site can be created from an existing website dynamically within minutes and then modified wherever required. While some businesses will want nothing less than a feature-laden bespoke solution, the DIY approach can ensure an almost immediate branded mobile presence.
Mobile marketing & strategies
Marketing to mobile users is still a relatively new technology, so data remains scarce on its power and ROI. But with over 13 per cent (and growing rapidly) of all UK web traffic now coming via mobiles, it deserves serious consideration in any marketing strategy.
And if none of the above has convinced you, take it from someone who’s had his share of online success, Google CEO and Chairman of the Board Eric Schmidt who recently heralded “mobile first in everything” as the new rule at Google. Enough said.
Photo source: Flickr/Skokie Public Library