Last-minute Mobile Shopping

The holidays are quickly descending upon us. And the latest stats from Google, eBay and Apple tell us that people are browsing and buying on their smartphones like mad. If you are a business owner and want to get in on the action, you better act fast.

The question many businesses ask themselves is whether they need a mobile site or an app. For small businesses, the debate between whether you need a mobile website or mobile app is a closed case. When consumers seek business information on their phones, they search the web. They want the information fast, and will almost always turn to the web as their first source of information. This includes restaurants, taxis, hotels, retail stores, fitness instructors, doctors, lawyers, accountants…the list goes on. And when they search from their phones, consumers take immediate action. A recent study published by Google and DudaMobile found that nearly one in five visitors will immediately contact the business after visiting their mobile website.

Up and running
For local businesses and professional services, this is very good news. The cost to create a mobile app can easily run into the thousands of dollars and take months to build. But to get a mobile website up and running can cost you less than $10 per month and be built in under an hour.

Building a mobile website can take far less effort, cost and headache than building a “desktop” website. And you can easily be up and running within an hour. A great place to get started is a recently launched Google website called GoMo.

The website provides small businesses with tools, resources and information on how to make your website more mobile friendly. Included is the GoMo meter, which evaluates the mobile friendliness of your current website, tips and best practices in mobile website design, and a list of mobile website vendors who can help get your mobile website up and running.

If you already have an existing website with regular site visitors, by far the best option is to make a mobile-friendly version of your website. While traditional website developers and marketers like to debate the merits of building a mobile website from scratch, for small business owners who are short on time and budget, your best bet is to adapt your existing website for mobile phones.

Mobile-optimised pages
Using a do-it-yourself mobile website builder platform such as our own, you can quickly create a great-looking, mobile-friendly version of your existing website that includes important mobile features like click-to-call, click-to-email and mobile maps with directions.

The service works by examining your website structure and content, then generating mobile-optimized pages that you can edit, with no coding or expertise required. Keep in mind though that what you are building is a “mobile” website, not a desktop website. Not everything in your desktop site is needed in your mobile website. So you will want to strip out pages and content from your mobile site and focus the site experience around the single most important action you want your site visitors to take. Plan on spending an hour to build your site and get it live.

A big benefit of using a service like this is that it will keep your mobile website in sync with your desktop website. So that when you make changes to your website, the changes will automatically appear on your mobile website. For a small business owner, this translates into not having to ask your tech guy to update your mobile website, saving you both time and money.

Once you’re done creating your mobile website, you will need to setup what is a called a “redirect.” This is a piece of code you will add to the homepage of your desktop site that says that when someone visits your website on their phone, it will automatically redirect them to your mobile site.

This last step is crucial, and is often what most business owners put off until later. Our advice: don’t. If you get stuck on the redirect, simply email the service you built your mobile website on and ask for help. Take advantage of their support team and ask them to help you with this last step. Typically this takes no more than 10 minutes. Once you’re done, your mobile website will be live.

Google it

So now you’ve got a shiny new mobile website for your business. And people who visit your site on their phones can get information about your business with ease. But what about mobile marketing and advertising? How can you get more mobile visitors to your website and, in turn, to your business?

This boils down to three things: Google, Google and more Google. Without sounding biased, according to StatCounter, Google currently accounts for 98 per cent of all mobile searches. And when people aren’t searching Google on their phones, they are using the built-in maps application to search for businesses, which is also, more often than not, powered by Google.

As a small business, to take advantage of Google’s role as the de facto king of search on the phone and drive more customers to your business, you will want to do two things. Firstly, claim your business for free on Google Places. And secondly, start running mobile Adwords campaigns.

Both services are designed for small businesses that want to advertise to mobile customers within a certain geographic region. But what’s key to making these services work best for your business is that you tie them both to your mobile website. With a mobile-friendly website, you will get the maximum benefit from spending on mobile advertising.

 

Dennis Mink is VP marketing at DudaMobile

Array