Are you a ‘responsive bandwagoneer’?

To be or not to be – responsive or not…. Should responsive (adaptive) web design be the standard even when there may be user experience reasons to go with alternative web design standards?

Surprisingly, not many businesses (or their agencies…) know the answer and instead there seems to be a ‘sheep’ mentality where many jump on the band-wagon (or off the cliff!) of developing a responsive or adaptive site without really understanding if its the best approach for their business.

Fundamentally, I believe there are two important areas that should first be considered before the development of mobile for your brand; data and content.

Data, or rather the insights the data provides, will provide crucial information about how your customers or prospects are using your website and mobile site (if you have one in place) for content requirements; device and OS segmentation, location etc.  A site audit will provide you with this information.  The insights of such an audit may reveal that you require a phased approach to a longer term optimised web and mobile solution as the current web IA (information architecture) may have fundamental UX issues for example.

Content, whilst we know is a key area tend to overlook the importance.  Typically what information are customers expecting when they use different devices.  If they want in-depth information from your website but their mobile consumption is more about location based services or specific information or transacting, then rendering web content to a mobile request may not be appropriate and will only serve to irritate them as they have to scroll down until they find what they are looking for.

Looking at these two areas will already begin to point the way to the preferred solution for your customers with one of following 3 mobile SEO solutions:

Dynamic Serving, Responsive Web Design and Mobile URLs.

It must be emphasised, the argument of single URL vs multiple URLs is now redundant with Google introducing switchboard tags (Google can understand which site should appear when regardless of  URL site structure) therefore responsive web design should not be championed because the assumption is that its better for SEO!

Adapted from mobile specialist Bryson Meunier, the following give you a guideline as to whether mobile URLs or dynamic serving are preferred options to responsive web design:

1.  When the desktop doesn’t contain categories mobile searchers are looking for e.g. specific model types

2. When the desktop site doesn’t contain keywords mobile searchers are using e.g. you mobile searches may use the term ‘nearby’ which is less likely on laptop which doesn’t have GPRS

3. When responsive web design increases load time significantly

4. When target audience primarily use feature phones or when specific mobile features are required to complete task e.g. scanning or camera

5. When it prevents innovation that improves the user experience e.g. J P Morgan Chase mobile solution

The following chart from Bryson Meunier clearly visualises this:

The ideal mobile solution is a hybrid of responsive web design and mobile only pages, but that’s ideal not necessarily what’s best for your business.  So, do you know which of the three your business has developed and if so is it the best for your customers?

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Best practices for mobile marketing with QR codes

Quick Response codes (QR codes) are similar to the barcodes used by retailers to track inventory and price products at te point of sales; the key difference between the two is the amount of data they can hold or share. When you scan a QR code with your camera-enable Smartphone you link to digital content on the web; activate various phone functions including email, IM and SMS and connect the mobile device to a web browser.

This comprehensive article by Angie Schottmuller of Search Engine Watch gives 14 best practices on QR codes for marketers including FREE tools to generate QR codes, management tools to track scanning analytics, relevant content and more.

Strategically QR codes have been used to gain market leadership for businesses as seen in this video of Tesco in South Korea  By strategically using QR codes they solved a daily chore for time poor customers creatively by allowing “the store come to the people” through virtual stores.

Result:

  • The number of new registered members rose by 76%
  • Online sales increased 130%
  • Market leader in online market and close 2nd offline

Tesco South Korea [Video]

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2011 Top 3 selling cars: Ford Fiesta, Ford Focus and Vauxhall Corsa

SMMT released 2011 car registration details today.  According to the figures 2011 new car registrations fell 4.4%, however the 1.94 million units was slightly ahead of the 1.92 million forecast.

2011 Top 3 marques were Ford Fiesta 96,112 units sold, Ford Focus with 81,832 units sold and Vauxhall Corsa 77,751 units sold.

“Last year proved to be a challenging year for the UK motor industry,” said Paul Everitt, SMMT chief executive. “Weak economic growth will make trading conditions tough in 2012, but record numbers of new and updated models, significantly improved fuel efficiency and exciting new technologies will help to encourage consumers into showrooms.”

Whilst it’s evident 2012 will see tougher trading conditions, there are definite opportunities for Dealer Groups to get consumers into their showrooms starting with the online showrooms where their research begins!  Consider your mobile strategy, as we know mobile retail is continuing to grow, according to Comscore datagems 1.7million mobile subscribers consumed automotive content on mobile devices.

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Would you close your doors for business for 2 days out the week?

I’m certain we all know the answer to that – NO!  What a stupid question you may say… True, but many retailers are unwittingly doing just that.

According to the Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB) retailers without mobile optimised sites are losing out on nearly one-third of business based on new m-commerce research.  Alex Kozloff, Senior Mobile Manager at the IAB, describes this as businesses effectively closing their doors for two days out of the week.

Asked if a retailer’s website was not working on their mobile device, respondents answers were as follows:

  •  20% would buy from a competitors mobile site
  •   8% wouldn’t bother at all
  •   2% “other”

We can see from these stats that if your customers will benefit from your lost sales if your mobile site doesn’t measure up.  Survey also showed 40% of users believe m-commerce is the easiest way to buy products and services, so it’s less about experimenting with new technology and more expected service from brands.

In my blog on key learnings from Mary Porta’s retail review it’s evident that mobile is a key factor for changing the retail landscape.  In November Google launched ‘GoMo’ their mobile push for retailers to mobile optimise and those with well optimised mobile sites will benefit from higher mobile search rankings

“Consumers are ahead of the industry and clearly want to use mobile optimised sites to purchase products, so the solution lies with the retailers,” say Kozloff.  Does your mobile solution measure up?

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An Automotive View on Mary Porta’s Retail Review

My Guest blog for Mobile Web recently featured on Carnival of the Mobilists #255 Outstanding blog short list.5 retail recommendations for automotive from Mary Porta’s Retail review

The blog focuses on the influence mobile has had on consumer buying behaviour which has and is transforming the retail landscape.  There are five recommendations on how the Dealerships in automotive industry can develop their mobile retail channel.

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