What would you do if I told you that nine out of 10 customers would turn around and leave your business unless you took down the giant sandwich board at the entrance? Yep. You’d toss that board to the curb without batting an eyelash. Now what if I told I that nine out of 10 customers would leave your website if it wasn’t mobile-friendly? That is exactly what Google has told us, and smart owners are taking action to survive and thrive in these increasingly mobile times.
Step 1: Flip the mental switch on digital vs. brick-and-mortar
If you take nothing else away from this guide, it should be the realization that your online business and your brick-and-mortar business are one and the same. If you want to be a small business that does big business, you can’t afford to think any different. Just as you would never expect to do big business if your your staff was rude, and you had no information posted inside, you can’t expect to do big business if no one can find your website, feel good when they get there, or easily find what they need when they click around.
And your digital assets are becoming more and more important.
According to a recent Nielsen survey, your prospective customers aren’t just doing more of their shopping online; they’re turning to the Internet to research your business and evaluate your products and services — regardless of whether they take next steps online or in person.
Step 2: Optimize your business for mobile. Do it now.
Since you were smart and driven enough to launch your own business, the above nine out of 10 stat is probably reason enough to optimize your website for mobile. But if it seems like an aspect of your business that you can put off until you find some spare time, consider this: Google is going to punish the procrastinators.
Google wants its users to have a good experience, just like you want visitors to your brick-and-mortar business to have a good experience. If it’s going to point a lot of searchers (future business) to your website, you’ve got to provide them with a good experience, too. If you don’t? Google will not send future business your way.
If you’re not sure whether your website is mobile-friendly, there’s an easy way to find out. It’ll take about 10 seconds. Just follow this link and type in your URL.
Step 3: Host a mobile app for your business
This might sound like an advanced step, but rest assured it’s not. In fact, a survey by ContractIQ found that 62 percent of businesses now have mobile apps or are developing one. Why so many? Apps are like having a fun, helpful, enticing mascot follow prospective customers around 24/7. And they’re there not just to keep your business top-of-mind. Some other reasons getting a mobile app makes sense:
- Business owners can get more customers to engage with their brand using an app.
- Apps can provide information and support features, all offline.
- Apps can enable prospective customers to take action like register and book appointments, lowering demands on your onsite staff.
- Apps are so widespread now that they are affordable to many small business.
Step 4: Invest in Mobile Advertising
As a business owner, you already know the importance of advertising. It’s been an essential business tool since humans dreamed up money. And just as your strategy has expanded from flyers, print ads and radio spots to include online advertising, online advertising has expanded to include mobile advertising, helping businesses reach a wider audience wherever, whenever.
A recent report found that people now spend more time consuming media on their digital devices than they do on their computers, illustrating that things have already “gone mobile.” But let’s pause for a second and answer the question you might have (no shame in it): Exactly what is mobile advertising?
As consumers volunteer more and more information about themselves on social media: age, gender, location, likes and dislikes, etc., local businesses are able to better cater to their targets. This means you have a chance to create a relevant, personal experience for prospects through ads, increasing the chances that clicks (or taps) on those ads will be of value. Put another way: They’re less likely to be a fluke and therefore a waste of your precious ad spend.
Mobile advertising can take the form of mobile display ads, SMS (text) ads, mobile video ads and applications. They can appear on mobile websites and on social networks. They can even get bundled into game downloads.
Step 5: Revamp your local listings pages
The best time to turn a searcher into a customer is when they’re actively looking for your goods or services. And if they’re searching with a mobile device in hand, they could be on your doorstep within minutes. You want them to choose your business, and you don’t want them to get lost along the way.
Whether they’ve landed on your listing from an online search, specific network such as Facebook or Foursquare, or in an app like Google Maps, you’ve got to make sure your local listings pages are up-to-date and enticing so customers end up on your doorstep and not a competitor’s.
To find out which listings are most important, and where to go to update your listings accordingly, here’s a great resource. Remember, though Google looms large in our minds, you can’t ignore Bing, Yahoo, and even the good old Yellow Pages, which adapted to the digital age and still count, darnit!
Some key things to remember:
- Are your hours of business still accurate?
- Is the location (or locations) listed still right?
- How accurately do your photos represent your offerings and what you’re known for?
- Have you read and responded to your online reviews?
Though your future customers have already “gone mobile,” now is a great time to Invest in mobile optimization to reap the many benefits today and tomorrow.