Posted by Chris Reilly on Thu, Jun 07, 2012
People have been calling it “The Year of Mobile” for at least the last 7 years. It’s starting to feel like those perennial doomsday predictions… yet with nearly 1 million smartphones being activated every day, it is hard to ignore the trend of mobile computing if you’re a marketer. There are predictions out there that mobile web traffic will overtake desktop traffic within the next 2 years. If your business’s website is not mobile-friendly, you’re likely missing out on both traffic and potential customers. So pay attention…What the heck is responsive design? It is a website that adapts the content to the device that is viewing the content. Typical responsive designs include versions for mobile phones, tablets, and regular screens. Some actually adapt content to show more design elements exclusively for large monitors. It uses CSS3 Media Queries and is widely supported by most modern browsers. Check out examples here and a guide to responsive design here.
Google Prefers Responsive Design
Google officially announced yesterday that they prefer responsive design for mobile websites. This is as opposed to having a separate mobile website or “dynamic serving” which serve up different HTML content per device, but with the same URL. Without the proper configuration, Googlebot may perceive dynamic serving as a form of cloaking and provide a ranking penalty. The preferences of Google are significant, especially given they serve 98% of all mobile searches. If you want your fair share of those mobile searches coming to your business it would be wise to consider having a mobile experience that works the way Google prefers!
Separate mobile sites have some challenges
The most popular form of mobile web development to date has been using separate, dedicated mobile websites, usually hosted at http://m.domain.com or http://domain.mobi. They have the advantage of being quick loading and quick to develop, and our firm has developed dozens of mobile sites using this method. The frustration with this approach is twofold:
1. Content must be maintaned separately. Ultimately with a separate mobile website there are two sets of content to maintain, which can be cumbersome at best. Simple websites for restaurants with occasional menu changes need to be updated on the desktop and mobile sites independently. If redirection isn’t working properly for GoogleBot, it is possible that content may be interpreted as duplicated and create a search engine penalty.
2. Occasionally, the user experience of a separate mobile website can be frustrating. Say you’ve navigated to somebody’s blog post from a tweet you read on your smartphone. If they are running a separate mobile website, it is likely you’ll be redirected to their mobile home page rather than the blog link you were looking for. This can make users angry and put a halt on what otherwise may have been a productive visit.
Mobile advertising rocks!
If you have a great mobile web experience with a responsive design, that opens the door to using mobile advertising to promote your business. Mobile search ads are EXTREMELY effective. 53% of people that conduct a mobile search end up making a purchase! This is clearly a function of the medium – if you are on the go you are not likely to conduct a search unless you are seriously motivated to get something done.
Another reason advertisers gravitate towards mobile search advertising is there is far less click-fraud on mobile, and certainly less telemarketers clicking on search ads and wasting budget.
We’ve also found mobile display advertising to be an incredible value right now. There is a tremendous amount of advertising inventory relative to the number of advertisers, and the pricing is very low. Here are stats from a recent campaign we ran that had very narrow targeting in a local competitive market:
The Click Thru (tap through?) rate was extremely high relative to desktop display, and given the tight targeting, a $1.12 CPM (cost per thousand impressions) is very competitive. We’ve seen as low as $.12 CPM on more broad campaigns. Think about it: Most mobile sites and apps that have advertising show 1 or 2 ads at the most. Unlike traditional desktop display where the eye is pulled in dozens of directions, mobile display ads are the only ad on the screen, taking up sometimes 20% of the real estate.
While mobile advertising is a great delivery mechanism and an incredible value, it is essentially worthless to do without having a compelling mobile experience for the visitors it is generating.
Now what should I do?
If you don’t have any mobile version of your website – Consider a full website redesign and insist on having a responsive design framework.
If you have a standalone mobile site - Keep it up, but when you pursue your next web design make sure it has responsive design.
If have a responsive site – Pat yourself on the back! Make sure it is well-optimized for search engines and consider mobile advertising… and enjoy the new business it generates!
Also, leave us a comment and share your thoughts on mobile marketing and responsive design!