Only 9% of small and medium sized businesses in the US have mobile-optimized websites. That’s a problem because sales transactions over mobile are expected to grow by 630% in 2014 alone, according to a study conducted by hibu and Impact Research. Brands that sell their products and services through local businesses without mobile-optimized websites are losing sales. Why? It has to do with the fact that “61% of users said that if they didn't find what they were looking for right away on a mobile site, they'd quickly move on to another site,” according to Google Think Insights.
But That’s Not My Network…Yes It Is
Not every brand that sells through a network of channel partners utilizes ecommerce but the mobile web is a growing discovery medium (20% of search queries originate from mobile according to Statcounter) and there are other ways to “convert” on mobile sites besides a sales transaction.
Mobile Search Moments, a study by Google and Nielsen, affirmed that 73% of mobile searches provoked additional actions, or conversions, such as store visits, purchases, phone calls, website visits, shared information, and continued research. I bet you may be thinking now that mobile optimization for your channel partners’ websites could be pretty significant.
What is a Mobile-Optimized Site?
Mobile-optimized simply means the site is easy to navigate on a smartphone, i.e. all important pathways on the site can be found and followed quickly, with few taps, and no pinching, zooming, or twisting.
Mobile sites are either m-dot sites (m.website.com) that are separate versions from desktop sites and are specifically designed to look good on smartphones, or responsive design sites that use a single domain, designed to look good on any screen.
Whichever path a brand manager chooses for channel partner sites in the network, the following tips can help deliver those conversions.
Tips to Convert on Mobile
An important distinction I have to make before getting into the tips relates to the ownership of mobile sites; some brands have ownership / total control of over mobile properties, while other brands have networks of local partners that own their own mobile sites. The tips below apply to either situation, but if brands don’t have total control they must prepare education pieces, run constant training, and perhaps suggest providers that can help network members implement the following tips.
- Plan Your Site Right
You have to be a Taoist when it comes to mobile site design. Think about the path of least resistance to a conversion.
- Put the Value Proposition Front & Center – Partner mobile sites need to show value and lead the user to the next step immediately, no matter if it’s booking an appointment, encouraging a click-to-call link, or driving the user to a lead capture form. Brand managers are responsible for studying mobile user intent and crafting the right messaging/offers to get users to convert for channel partners.
- Don’t Block Conversion – Don’t require immediate registration, login, etc. Bogging users down with requirements from the outset will cause potential customers go elsewhere and thus derail the possibility of a conversion.
- Offer Differentiators for a Competitive Advantage
There is nothing like delivering a unique selling proposition to a potential customer that is looking for an immediate solution.
- Same Day Service / Delivery – Customers buy locally because of convenience, proximity, and immediacy. When searching for products or services on mobile, customers are often seeking an immediate solution (i.e. I want my carpet cleaned at 2pm today). Offering same day service or product delivery can do a lot to increase conversion.
- Show Available Inventory – Whether it’s the calendar showing available appointment times at a healthcare clinic or hot items in stock at the local jewelers, showing customers the available inventory can spark an appointment booking or purchase.
- Utilize Other Non-Website Mobile Ideas
Customers on mobile websites are accustomed to downloading mobile apps, hence a call-to-action that encourages download of and interesting/relevant app is not a bad idea. Additionally, paying for mobile ads to drive traffic or support conversion is easy and cheap to test.
- Offer a Mobile App – Businesses that can justify frequent customer contact should encourage mobile app download. If users choose to share location data, receive push messaging, etc. brands can engage mobile users to stay top of mind and issue offers that drive traffic of local channel partners.
- Go the Paid Route – Google has a host of mobile marketing techniques that increase the chances of conversion. Channel partner mobile sites can be displayed in search results with “sitelinks” to interior pages that set customers on the right pathway to conversion, or click-to-call links that encourage phone calls to channel partners.
Remember that “52% of users said that a bad mobile experience made them less likely to engage with a company,” according to the Google Insights study. Having mobile-optimized sites for channel partners is not just a “nice to have” that someday may be relevant, but instead it’s a significant pathway to generate sales and a vital element of brand building.
About the Author
Jared is the Chief Executive Officer of SproutLoud. Since 2006, he has been primarily responsible for strategic direction of the Company, as well as the oversight of SproutLoud's Partner ecosystem. Prior to SproutLoud, Jared worked in Thomas Weisel Partner’s internet and online advertising investment banking practice in San Francisco. He served as the lead analyst on a number of Corporate Finance and M&A deals including Newscorps’ buyout of Intermix Media (Myspace.com). Jared graduated with a B.A. in Finance and Marketing from the McIntire School of Commerce at the University of Virginia. Jared has an MBA from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University and is a member of the Young President's Organization (YPO). Jared has been honored as one of the Top 40 Under 40 Entrepreneurs by South Florida Business Journal and a Top 50 Entrepreneur by Business Leader Magazine. Jared lives in South Florida with his wife and two sons.More Content by Jared Shusterman