19 May 2016

Recently, while conducting a large scale competitive analysis for a client, our team was astonished at how many businesses STILL do not offer mobile-friendly websites. When we help clients build a new website, we always begin with the mobile experience in mind and work backwards from there. We naively assumed that’s been standard protocol in web design for years now … but, according to our research, as an industry we’re not quite there yet.

Almost all business owners agree that a website is their most important marketing tool. It’s the digital face of their brand and the cornerstone of their content strategy. It’s hard to find a marketing campaign active today that doesn’t point back to an entity’s website. It’s where crucial information is housed, where buying decisions are made and often where relationships with customers begin.

Taking that notion one step further, we are now at the point in which a mobile-friendly website is your most important marketing tool. There are many reasons why we feel this is the case, however, following are three we believe are the most important:

  1. Mobile is where your customers already are … and have been for a while. The numbers don’t lie. It has been almost two years since comScore first reported that mobile usage had finally exceeded desktop-based internet activity (the phenomenon referred to as “MobileGeddon”). The ratio has been increasing in favor of mobile ever since. As of the start of 2016, data from the Global Web Index shows that 80% of internet users own a smartphone. And, according to Smart Insights, over 50% of those users reach for their smartphones immediately after waking up. (I’ll admit I am definitely part of that crowd.) Why wouldn’t you want your website to be optimized for a device that people are grabbing even before their first cup of coffee?
  1. You only get one chance to make a [mobile] first impression. You’ve put years into building your brand. You were even one of the first of your competitors to put up a website. But sales, operations, recent budgeting issues, etc. have prevented you from constructing a mobile-friendly site. So what happens when a new prospect Googles your company from their iPhone and your site has difficulty loading properly? Or if they can’t view all of the content on your homepage without pinching or expanding various sections? They’ll run as fast as they can to your competitor’s mobile-optimized website. With so many options available to them, why wouldn’t they choose the experience best designed for whatever device they are using? Building a mobile-friendly website will help ensure your customers have a positive first impression which, according to a Google study, will provide you with a 75% chance of them returning to your website (i.e. a second date).
  1. It’s official – Google prioritizes mobile-friendly websites in search results on mobile devices. While many expected this was already the case, Google made the announcement last year. If you’ve worked hard to boost your SEO using highly refined keywords, PR, social media and content marketing strategies, don’t let your website undermine your efforts when it comes to mobile visitors. Furthermore, two statistics the search engine giant incorporates into its algorithm that can adversely impact your overall ranking are bounce rate and click back. Bounce rate refers to when visitors arrive at your website but don’t click through to another page and instead leave the site. Click back occurs when visitors land on your website, decide they don’t like it and then click the ‘back’ button on their browser. The faster this occurs, the lower your site will ultimately rank, as Google will assume you have irrelevant content. Both metrics can have devastating effects on your otherwise hard-earned SEO.

With customers and prospects now using their mobile devices even more than their desktop computers, we are past the tipping point at which a mobile-friendly site is imperative. Don’t let your website leave a bad first impression on a potential prospect and, even worse, render itself so irrelevant to search engines that it ultimately won’t even get a chance to make that first impression. Embrace the path your customers are already on and update your website so that it can, once again, be your most important marketing tool.