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What, Don’t You Mobile?

Posted on August 13th, 2010 by Jeff

The mobile web has been around for quite some time. Current studies date it somewhere between the Dead Sea Scrolls and Harvey Danger’s balad ‘Flagpole Sitta.’ It’s just now, in 2010, that it’s really becoming a major player in terms of content consumption. Okay, maybe it’s not that old. But it does seem like some iteration has been around for a while. I remember about 6 or 7 years ago my brother got a phone with ‘Web’ accessability–that meant he could slowly, and with squinted eyes, check sports scores. Even though it was painful, it was just cool to do so on his phone. That was my first delve into the mobile web, and I’m sure others had the same experience or similar. I’d hardly call it browsing, because it was just basically an app that came with the phone that could display a few scores and maybe some weather reports.

Today, however, the mobile web can be soooo much more rich, exciting and valuable to users. I emphasize can because most companies still aren’t doing anything to help their customers interact with them in a mobile sense. Sure, you might think that creating a sexy, awesome iPhone is too much, and more importantly, too expensive for your needs. And you’d be right, unless you want to shell out $10k+ that is.

But most companies don’t have any need for a mobile app, they have need for a rich mobile experience on their site itself. Studies have proven that while apps are awesome, they don’t lead to the long-term usage like good mobile websites do. If you need any proof that mobile is the future, then just check out these infographics. oh, also, the future is now, most companies  just don’t realize it.

So what then, we can’t drop $10K on an app or a developer

Not to worry, there are options for businesses to start with and grow from there. First, get your mobile site in order. Think about everything on your site, if you were viewing it on a phone, what would you really care about? What wouldn’t matter?* You’d probably just want the juicy content, not all the fluffy intro stuff and flashy graphics showing you too can use Photoshop (this also means you Flash). Don’t even think about adverts, I mean come on, you respect your customer more than that, right? Chances are, you customer will feel the same way as you do, if you think in an objective way.

Great, now, how to translate this? Head on over to Mobify.me and setup shop. They make this process so easy, and kinda fun to boot. Plus, if you don’t care about your domain or a custom design, they make it free. But if you do, and I’d suggest you do, they can help you out easily there as well for a reasonable fee.

Great, now our site looks superb in my Crackberry, I’m done

Nope, now comes the fun part. Now you need to create content that people want to consume whilst away from their desks. I’ve found that even though I’m a dedicated webee, I don’t have time to read all the content I want to while at a desk. So thanks to Steve Jobs and a few web folks, I can easily do this for most of the content I want to read. Without great content, why would anyone come back to your site? You do want them to come back, right? If you have a business blog, then you probably are already doing this, and kudos to you. If not, it’s never too late (although shame on you a tad). Check out the good folks at Hubspot for myriad resources on this, and almost every other web topic you might want to know more about.

So, you’re killer content is now accessible on your site, now we’re done

Not quite. What about your email folk? Let’s not forget about them either. As recent studies show, 45% of all time on the web (via a smartphone) is spent on email. Yep, you read that right. If you’re email marketing campaigns are not optimized for a mobile experience, you are missing out on a huge opportunity. To get this going, there are a few things to be done.

1) Use a professionally designed AND built email template. HTML email is uber-finicky, so just because a designer can build a website doesn’t mean they can build an effective email. Test, test, and test some more. Use a handy program like Litmusapp to ensure that across the board, your emails look as rad as you intended them to.

2) Use a robust email service provider (ESP). I talk clients every day that don’t do this. I am shocked, and not just because I am a designer and want the most fun system to work with, but also for their reputation as well. Using any modern, robust ESP will allow you to create effective mobile versions of your emails. By this I mean for those aforementioned Crackberry users — most I’ve come across can only see plain-text, and if you’re HTML doesn’t offer them a version to view, you’re dropping the ball big time. If you can’t get this to work, then just simple add a link in your email to an online plain-text version–easy as pie.

One more step–not required–but I think it’s an awesome one

I could write a book on permission marketing, but for this let’s talk on-the-go. I’ve come across the long-dead discussion of how to deal with tradeshow business cards and permission marketing many, many times. Here’s my suggestion –> create a mobile friendly page on your website with a simple form (I’m talking stupidly simple, email address and submit), create a marketing piece with a QR code (with the URI embedded) and voila, no more worries about sales people complaining about lost leads and marketers whining about lack of permission (I’m the latter by the way).

Just as technology advances every minute of every day, so does the mobile experience. Or at least, so it can if given the proper foundation. Don’t miss out on any more business than you already have by not be ready. I didn’t even get into all the location-based goodness that can be had with a proper mobile site, perhaps another time though.

*As on a desktop website, having a giant logo does not translate not into ROI.

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