Should you tailor your marketing to smartphone users?

Author -  Vaughan Reed - Managing Director & Web Strategist

Smartphones – do they figure in your marketing strategies?

Have you given any thought to how your website displays on the small screen of a smartphone?  We’re talking here such things as the iPhone, Blackberry and Android devices. Many sites built for a standard desk or lap top sized screen simply don’t work that well on the smaller screen.  Worse still, if the site uses Flash, then that part of the site simply won’t display at all on most smartphones. Maybe they aren’t so smart after all!

But, does all this really matter; surely not that may people look at websites on their phones do they?

Wrong!  If you don’t cater for the needs of mobile users you could already be missing out on significant business opportunities, and that position will only get worse as mobile usage ever increases.

Here are some sobering statistics1 you should take on board:

  • 44% of New Zealanders already have access to a smart phone and that number is growing
  • 46% of these people access the internet EVERY day on their phone
  • 24% of mobile phone users would rather give up TV than lose their phones 

But it’s not just these numbers you need to think about.  Mobile internet access has already changed people’s behaviour, and as marketers, you need to adapt to survive.

For example, gone are the days when someone ‘surfed’ the internet as a sole purpose activity. Now people do it while they are doing something else – watching TV, at events, in coffee shops, bus stops, at airports and stations etc.  Marketers need to consider a multimedia approach to their marketing so that when someone sees a TV ad, or a billboard, they’re encouraged to immediately go on line and follow the call to action. QR codes are a good example of this and you’ll see these increasingly on product labels in shops. Engage the prospective customer and your chances of getting the sale increase significantly.

Mobile users are even accessing the internet whilst they are shopping. Increasingly shoppers use their phones in-store to comparison price, and then either haggle in store or go to a competitor to get the better deal.

Talking of shopping, 66% of smartphone users have researched their purchase online via their mobile device, and 27% have directly purchased on it.  E commerce sites tend to be the ones that unless specifically designed for it, work less well on mobile devices. These last 2 statistics alone highlight the need for e commerce sites to step up and adapt to the new mobile world.

One last fact to consider is viral marketing.  It’s becoming common practice for website owners to encourage this activity, with most sites now having social media share controls etc. Of all internet users, mobile users are the one to target as they are big social networkers with over 77% of them being regular visitors to social network sites.

So, now that you’ve recognized the need to have a site that works well on smartphones – what do you do next?

Basically, there are 2 choices:

  • Adapt your existing site to display well on large and small screens. Apart from removing Flash elements your navigation might need to be revised so that the mobile user can easily navigate around – making buttons a little bigger is also helpful here. But the main element to ‘mobilising’ a website is to use Responsive CSS, i.e. to create separate design styles that automatically display when the site is viewed from a mobile device. Not all sites can be retrospectively fitted with Responsive CSS, so you’ll need to speak to your website provider to find out.
  • Build a mobile specific site. This is particularly useful where you establish that the needs of the mobile user are distinctly different from the needs of the desktop user. For example your mobile site might consist mainly of specially created landing pages that people enter by scanning in a product QR code – perhaps taking them to information to encourage the sale, or to a competition etc. Another example is that the mobile site might focus more on the Store Locator and less on company history, details of the head office and key management etc.

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Unfortunately it looks like the days of building something to last have long gone, replaced with the need to build things that adapt and evolve. Websites fit this analogy extremely well. If you haven’t done so already, speak to your website provider about the best way to get on board the mobile marketing bandwagon. If you don’t, you can be sure your competitors will.

1. Statistical information sourced from a Google study of 1000 people aged 18 – 64 (www.ourmobileplanet.com)

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