What Does a Mobile Audience Mean for Small Business

What Does a Mobile Audience Mean for Small Business - infographic
Ever since the release of the iPhone seven years ago, we have entered what experts are calling the ‘post-PC’ age. In 2013, PC shipments had declined by 8%, whilst tablet shipments had increased by over 54%. the future is looking increasingly mobile, with consumers now accessing the internet from smartphones and tablets, and it looks like myriad devices, from cars to fridges will begin providing users with a means of using the internet in new and interesting ways. But what does this mean for companies looking to target consumers?

The rise of portable devices has already fundamentally changed the way users interact with the internet. Booting up the old desktop used to be a formal practice. Perhaps you would go to the study, turn on the PC, await it to startup then navigate to your preferred internet browser and do whatever it is you wanted. Interfacing with the mouse and keyboard to browse and interact before shutting the machine down when it was finished.

By contrast, the ways in which the internet is accessed via tablets and smartphones is far more accessible thanks to WiFi and 3/4G. Browsing on a smartphone is often done on the go, whilst on the bus, or walking around town. Similarly with tablets, one can now sit from the comfort of their sofa and browse whilst watching the TV. It is a far more casual process than it used to be. The rise of mobile devices has created at once a more casual yet ubiquitous attachment to the internet meaning accessibility is easy and navigation is quick and efficient. It may seem obvious, but it is important to address how the basic psychology of web browsing has changed thanks to the portability of these new devices.

This really means that you have to consider the ways in which you are presenting your business through mobile devices.

Responsive Web Design

There are a number of ways companies are choosing to amend their mobile interface. Sometimes it means a mobile friendly version of their normal website. Getting more popular, however is Responsive Web Design or RWD which is becoming the standard technique web designers use to ensure a smooth user experience across all devices. With so many devices and operating systems in circulation, web design needs to accommodate for all different platforms and screen sizes and layouts. According to eConsultancy, many companies who have made the transition to a RWD website have experienced a huge growth in conversion rates almost instantly. The one website for all platforms, is better for really conveying your brand and is more economical and cost effective to build rather than build a site for each specific platform.

Chances are, you will have come across the responsively designed website, as it is fast becoming the norm. RWD is now formatted to a mobile first approach. which then allows the website to be upscaled depending on screen size, whilst also having a structure and layout that works well with touch screen hardware and the more traditional mouse/trackpad and keyboard.

Local Searches

It is estimated that over 43% of internet searches are looking for local services and products. Use of mobile devices has also changed the ways in which consumers search for business. On their smartphone, they will now be searching on the go, and more importantly searching in regards to their current location. Increasingly, mobile users are more likely to be located nearer to their point of purchase.

This gives a great deal of opportunity to businesses within their close proximity and of course it really helps for businesses to spend time making sure that their physical location is digitally realised, whether this means highlighting your presence on google maps or enriching your web copy to include your location. You’ll notice, for example, in the case of restaurants, that user reviews on trip advisor is becoming very important to business prospects. Users can search for the nearest restaurants and see which establishments have the highest ranking. Thanks to mobile devices, many consumers are searching for local business and organizations whilst on the move. Small businesses need to be aware of this, as they have the most to gain.

Mobile friendly ad copy

In reaching out to a mobile friendly audience, a business must understand all the additional benefits and functions that come loaded with smartphones and tablets. Mobile URLs, QR codes, the capture of video and images. More so with mobile devices, there is more cohesion between all these different elements, you can take a picture and it can be uploaded directly to instagram or twitter. Consider what the process was like before smartphones. Take a picture, with a camera, go home and connect camera to PC, upload pictures and then share. Seems like ancient history.

Everywhere, you can see how companies are reaching out to their consumers and attempting to get them to interact with the brand. You can see then, how this opens up a more creative approach to marketing. Mobile friendly campaigns can offer a form of interaction with your audience and thusly free marketing!

Brevity is still the golden rule in advertising and marketing, when you have to convey a particular message towards a preferred demographic. You want to broadcast your message without bewildering the user or making them bored. This is doubly so for content on mobile devices, you need only look at twitter that provides a 140 character limit to articulate a message. Twitter is predominantly used on mobile devices.

The Mobile marketing Landscape for 2014 - infographic by webdam

The Mobile marketing Landscape for 2014 - infographic

In conclusion, the mobile market is rapidly increasing with the passing of each month. This has opened a more casual, more personal, and more interactive means of web interfacing, that small business needs to be aware of to maximize consumer engagement.

For more information on small business computing check out our startup guide.

Article H/t to Charlie Phair | Top Photograph Credit: KC Alfred/Reuters
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