Column

Mobile Matters

Consumers Have Gone Mobile

Consumers Have Gone Mobile, But SMBs Still Aren’t Following

by: | May 21, 2012

Small business owners may say they believe in the potential of mobile marketing, but a new survey conducted by digital services firm Web.com suggests few of you are putting your money where your mouths are.

Sixty-nine percent of small businesses across the U.S. tell Web.com they believe mobile marketing is critical to their company’s growth—a positive indication that entrepreneurs are coming around to the game-changing opportunities that the mobile channel offers.

But at present, only 26 percent of SMBs have a mobile-friendly website (i.e., a site with the same layout and content as their desktop web presence, simply adjusted to render on smartphone screens). Even more disheartening, just 14 percent maintain a standalone mobile-optimized site with content and capabilities optimized expressly for the smartphone platform. On top of that, more than 61 percent of SMBs don’t even have a mobile search strategy, effectively making themselves invisible to on-the-go consumers seeking nearby places to shop, eat, or grab a drink.

But instead of focusing on the negative, let’s accentuate the positive. Among that 14 percent of the SMB population that have rolled out a dedicated mobile website, a full 84 percent report an increase in new business activity directly connected to their mobile marketing efforts. Asked by Web.com to name their top three reasons for investing in mobile marketing, 38 percent of these small business owners cited a desire to provide better service to their existing customers, followed by attracting more local customers (36 percent), and gaining a competitive advantage (34 percent).Going Mobile With Small Business Infograph

Whatever their specific motivations, all mobile-minded SMBs are just going where their customers are: Digital research firm comScore reports that 234 million Americans ages 13 and older used mobile devices in March 2012, with half of them accessing their phones’ browsers.

“With more and more consumers specifically searching for local businesses on their mobile devices, it is imperative that small businesses invest in a mobile presence,” said Web.com chairman and CEO David Brown. “Having a mobile presence can be a huge competitive advantage for small businesses trying to attract local customers by instantly introducing a potential customer to their business’ products and services in a mobile-enhanced way.”

So, what’s stopping other small businesses from embracing mobile marketing in full? No surprise: It’s time and resources.

Sixty-four percent of the 500 small business owners who participated in the Web.com survey said they double as their own one-person marketing team, severely limiting their ability to build and maintain a mobile presence and also keep on top of their other day-to-day responsibilities.

There’s a happy ending, however: Despite the financial and logistical challenges limiting small businesses from elevating their mobile profiles, 64 percent of respondents told Web.com they intend to increase their mobile spending in 2012. Only 33 percent said their mobile investment will remain the same as last year, and 3 percent plan to spend even less on mobile than they did a year ago.

Will the naysayers change their tune when 2013 rolls around, and even more customers have made smartphones and tablets the fulcrum of their digital lives? Time will tell—assuming those mobile-unfriendly companies are still in business a year from now, of course.Marketing Zeus

Posted in: Campaign Development, E-Commerce, Geolocation, Local, Mobile Advertising, Mobile Development, Mobile Matters, Usability

About the Writer:

Jason Ankeny is the executive editor of the FierceMobileContent and FierceDeveloper e-newsletters as well as a regular contributor to Entrepreneur magazine and the website All Music Guide. Additional credits include efforts for publications including Rolling Stone, Wax Poetics and No Depression, along with liner notes for a number of album releases. He lives in Chicago.

View Full Bio »

More Columns