Imagine a world where consumers reach a leading brand’s website but find themselves confronted with text too small to read, images that don’t load properly and form fields too awkward to fill in.
No, it’s not 1998, when the Internet was still new and the user experience took a back seat to the novelty of simply being a progressive brand online. It’s 2014, when growing numbers of consumers are accessing websites through their smartphones and discovering that even brands with the most sophisticated web presence are falling down on their basic mobile offering.
Today, Internet traffic from mobile devices is a relative trickle. Tomorrow it will most certainly be a flood. According to StatCounter Global Stats, non-PC traffic—originating from smartphones and tablets—already accounts for 15 per cent of the total global Internet traffic. In a mobile-savvy region like Southeast Asia, the issue is more urgent, with non-PC traffic already well ahead of the global average at 21 per cent and increasing monthly. Add to that the impressive growth of smartphone penetration in Asia where, according to Nielsen, markets like Hong Kong, Singapore, and Malaysia are near saturation point, China weighs in at a hefty 71 per cent penetration, and India is poised for explosive growth with its 18 per cent penetration against a population of 1.28 billion.
With numbers like these, the question of what consumers experience when they visit a website using their mobile devices should be on every brand owner’s priority list. Yet a study by Warc for the Mobile Marketing Association Asia Pacific found that while brand owners are planning for a substantial increases in their mobile investment, the majority have to date lacked a formal mobile marketing strategy. More to the point, an Adobe study found that almost half (45 per cent) of digital marketers say their organisation doesn’t have a mobile-optimised site or mobile application and rely on desktop sites only.
The rewards available for brands that do offer a mobile-optimized experience are significant. Brands get better results when they plan for the small screen, versus asking consumers to hunt and peck through a full webpage shrunk down to smart phone size. Unsurprisingly, Millward Brown Digital found that nearly three quarters of mobile users are more likely to make a repeat visit to a mobile-friendly site and 67 per cent are more likely to buy. These statistics make perfect sense; consumers will be more predisposed to mobile browsing and shopping if it’s made easy and enjoyable.
Of course, simply trying to replace a mobile site with an app is not the answer. A mobile site is available to any consumer at any time. To make use of an app, however, the consumer first needs to know it exists, feel a need for it, download it and remember to use it on occasion—a series of steps likely undertaken by only the most dedicated. And how many brand owners want to compete with the other 25 apps installed on the average smartphone (according to Google) with less than half of those being used within the previous 30 days?
Smartphones offer marketers a host of exciting opportunities: apps, location-based marketing, mobile-based social, QR codes, the list goes on. The notion of basic accessibility to a brand site via a smartphone may lack the appeal of trendier technologies but needs to be seen as a cost of entry to the world of mobile. The number of consumers with smartphones in hand and a willingness to browse and buy is growing swiftly. Will your mobile brand site be ready?
Stephanie Myers is engagement director, Asia Pacific, at Possible