Ever since the first Apple iPhone was released back in June 2007, mobile has been rapidly expanding its importance as a platform. The total internet traffic from mobile devices actually surpassed desktop traffic all the way back in January 2014 (source).
So, what does this mean for small businesses? What new opportunities are there for small businesses in a mobile first world of 2015 and beyond?
The Data – Mobile’s Rise
In late 2014, monthly mobile searches on Google’s search engines started overtaking the total monthly searches from desktop computers. With trillions of searches taking place every year, mobile’s ability to provide more relevant, localised results wherever you may be is a huge trend that will continue to grow.
The impact of mobile on eCommerce is one of the most obvious impacts of this change, with Shopify reporting that mobile traffic had become the dominant way to shop for customers across their 100,000 online stores in August 2014.
Even with this incredible growth, the mobile trend shows no signs of slowing down in the coming years. As more and more consumers opt out of having a dedicated desktop computer in their homes, it’s important for all small businesses to take a hard look at how they can start leveraging the mobile platform to grow their business.
Why should small businesses care about mobile?
The 2014 Australian Mobile Lifestyle Index (AMPLI) pegged Aussie smartphone ownership as just under 90%. The index also found that when given the choice between using a desktop PC and a mobile device (tablet or smartphone), two thirds of respondents selected a mobile device.
The idea of small businesses ignoring two thirds of their potential customer base is frightening – and the trend is growing. Whether you are a local service business or a large multinational, the mobile trend presents a huge opportunity (or risk) for your business.
3 Big Opportunities for small businesses to leverage mobile for growth
Update your website to be Responsive
With over 66 percent of Australian businesses still without a mobile friendly website (April, 2015), small businesses have a big opportunity to gain a competitive advantage by just updating their website to a responsive design. The advantages of creating a new, mobile responsive website are:
- Google ranks mobile-friendly sites higher within search results from mobile phones, giving smaller companies the opportunity to outrank and steal traffic from larger companies who haven’t updated their web presence.
- Users browsing the web on mobile are significantly more likely to ‘bounce off’ (that is, to leave the website) if they aren’t able to easily navigate and view information. Bounced users are unlikely to return to your website, and that could constitute a lost sale or subscriber.
- Responsive websites are cheaper and easier to maintain. Instead of operating two websites (desktop and mobile), you only have one website to keep updated.
Across the websites we manage, around 50-60% of overall traffic is from mobile devices. Imagine turning away 50% of your leads at the door to your office – that’s effectively the impact of not having a mobile-optimised website. To put this growth into context, take a look at the chart below. It gives a breakdown of how we are using mobile devices and our browsing habits. If you are interested in finding out more, you can also read our blog post on responsive website design and how it can help your business.
Mobile search & local search
With mobile search becoming more and more important, small businesses must look to better market themselves on mobile devices. New opportunities for PPC advertising on mobile devices are powerful, but for most small businesses a mobile/local search strategy can deliver slower but more consistent results. The advantage of mobile search, for both consumers and local businesses, is that it can leverage location information to present more useful search results for customers.
With some studies indicating that almost 80% of mobile, locally focused searches end with a purchase, it is hugely important for local product and service based businesses to be visible on Google’s My Business platform. Mobile search users are often using their mobiles to find purchase information on the go, including looking for restaurants online, opening hours of local service businesses and pricing information for smaller purchases.
Cloud/mobility in working
Mobility and the cloud have become meaningless buzzwords in the business community, but they form a huge competitive advantage for small businesses. Small to medium sized businesses thrive due to their flexibility and ability to quickly adapt to the market faster than their larger competitors. The ability to work on the go, and still get things done quickly and efficiently, is a huge advantage for small businesses.
For most businesses, the need for large and clunky desktop machines has largely been removed. Look at the list below and try to identify if there are any areas of your business that you can’t run from your mobile phone or tablet from anywhere in the world:
- Send and receive emails, create and review documents (word, powerpoint and excel) and access all of your files with a solution like Google Apps for Work or Office 365.
- Perform day to day accounting activities including reconciling transactions, sending invoices and paying bills all from your mobile device with a service like Xero.
- Manage all of your customer information and sales calls from a cloud CRM like Salesforce or Hubspot.
It’s important to understand where the mobility can be most effective at improving your business, whether that is enabling your employees to work from home to giving your sales staff the ability to invoice from the client site. Embracing mobility and cloud technology can give you a great boost to your businesses flexibility, save money and deliver a better experience for your customers.
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