While waiting at an airport, you observe a traveler bypassing the customer service line and rescheduling her flight on her iPad. Later, you see a businessperson using his smartphone to snap a picture of his restaurant receipt and submit an expense report. These aren’t uncommon sights. Smart devices are, well, everywhere, and being used to do everything.
Without question, companies must take steps to ensure that their website is mobile-friendly. This is no longer an option; it’s a necessity. According to Business Insider, 685 million smartphones and 122 million tablets were shipped in 2012 alone. Furthermore, Gartner predicts that 1.2 billion smart devices will be sold in 2013 (a 50% increase from 2012).
Going forward, the argument could easily be made that a business optimizing their web assets to prepare for the Mobile Revolution is equally as important as enhancing their website for use on traditional personal computers and laptops. Case in point: 2012 marked the first time in over a decade that PC sales were actually lower than in the previous year.
But mobile devices aren’t just ubiquitous, they’re also critical to the present (and future) of e-commerce. Retail revenue from mobile commerce in European and U.S. markets jumped from $15 billion in 2011 to nearly $26 billion in 2012 (a 71% increase from 2011), and Bank of America expects m-commerce to produce $67 billion in revenue by 2015.
Truth be told, there is no magic bullet to deal with the Mobile Revolution. Each option comes with advantages and disadvantages, but consolidating web properties to provide visitors a one-stop outlet that already exists only seems logical and prudent. Responsive design helps to fill that void.
Responsive design is a mobile-friendly approach that enables websites to detect the size of a visitor’s viewing screen and trigger content to automatically adjust to fit the screen accordingly. A website using responsive design appears clean and is accessible to customers anytime, anywhere, no matter what device they’re using.
A study conducted by Morgan Stanley found that 91% of all smartphone users have their phones within arm’s reach, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. If your customers are always accessible, then your business must provide websites that can adjust to their needs, no matter what device they’re using or where they’re using it.
2. Branding perception
A company’s website should support branding initiatives, not hurt them. In the study “What Users Want Most From Mobile Sites Today,” Google found that 72% of consumers expect brands to have a mobile-friendly website. Companies must go out their way to meet these expectations. In the same study, Google reported that 55% of respondents said a frustrating mobile experience hurts their opinion of a brand.
3. The cost of losing business
Leveraging responsive design can be more expensive than a standard website build, but the cost of not being mobile-ready must be factored in, as well. In a separate study, Google found that 61 percent of respondents will take their business elsewhere if they encounter a poor mobile experience. Meanwhile, 67 percent of consumers said they’re more likely to make a purchase if a website is mobile-friendly. It’s simple: Long-term benefits outweigh short-term overhaul costs.
4. Future-proof your website
Somewhere the next great web innovation is being created. We don’t know about its aesthetics, its capabilities, its cost, but we do know it’s coming. Responsive design can help protect companies against the infiltration of new device technologies entering the marketplace. Think of all the websites that had to be redesigned when 800×600 desktop monitors became outdated; a responsive website will be able to adapt to the iPad mini or a (fictional) supersized version.
5. Increased share-ability
Google favors a responsive design approach. Why? Having separate mobile websites can produce links that fail to translate to desktop users without appearing fragmented. This hinders content from being seamlessly shared and spread. Moreover, content on mobile apps is not as easily shared. Instead, the content is mostly exclusive to users who have downloaded the app, precluding its virality.
6. Optimize email marketing
According to research from Knotice, 36% of all emails in early 2012 were opened from a mobile device—that’s more than one third of all emails. Additionally, per Payvia, about 22% of purchases on mobile devices are in response to an ad or email. A company should use HTML and marketing solutions to produce mobile friendly (responsive) emails to support its m-commerce strategy. To adequately take advantage of email marketing, it’s prudent to offer a common experience across both channels.
7. Mobile devices, not PCs, are becoming the primary surfing tool
Kleiner Perkins analyst Mary Meeker predicts that the number of smart devices in use will usurp PCs by the middle of 2013. It’s a jarring prediction, but far from baseless. The Pew Internet & American Life Project released a study stating that 31% of American adults who have cell phones use them for the majority of their Internet access. The study also found that of the 18- to 29-year-old demographic who use the Internet on their phones, 45% primarily use the mobile web.
What are users doing on the mobile web? Per the Monetate Quarterly E-commerce Report, smartphone and tablets made up more than 20% of e-commerce related traffic in the fourth quarter of 2012, an increase of 8% over the same period in 2011.
Now is the time to use responsive design to take your web presence into the mobile era. What are you waiting for?
Brian Bolton is SVP of marketing at Bridgeline Digital.