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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Mobile ‘browsers’ ultimately become buyers…

51% of automotive mobile browsers go on to make a purchase, according to the recent report (2012) released by Nielsen Research xAD and Telmetrics.  This survey leveraged actual observed mobile behaviour matched with survey responses to understand mobile consumption and the consumer patter-to-purchase.  The survey covered 3 target industries:

  • Automotive
  • Travel
  • Restaurants

Another key insight was measuring how mobile can impact a purchase decision.  Surprisingly, 62% of potential automotive buyers had not made a decision during their initial use accessing an app or website with their device.

The significance of this shows us that potential buyers can still be influenced into making a purchase of a particular brand with a particular dealership during their initial mobile (re)search, moreover 51% of automotive mobile browsers go on to make purchases, however is your brand or dealership geared up to deliver on customer expectations across multiple devices?

It’s simple, catch up to the 21st century needs of your customer or lose the business to your competitors!

Many experts argue that marketers (and dare I say agencies) have too great a tendency to view standalone apps and ‘adaptive’ design (also referred to as responsive design) as one-size-fits-all solution (magic wand!) to their digital problems.

With this in mind here are 3 key things to consider for your mobile site:

  • User Experience: When adaptive design works it’s great.  However, if you’re just pushing the same content out over multiple devices it totally ignores the usage profile of those devices, for example you may find the image of a car is not fully displayed and gets cropped when viewed on a particular mobile device compared to the website or tablet.  Ensure you understand the differences between web and mobileweb and what the customer expectations are of multiple devices.  If a customer is just getting the same stuff beautifully resized for different screens/devices, you could well be annoying them and you don’t want to do that!
  • Content: One of the biggest fallacies of adaptive design is that it somehow acts like ‘Aladdin’s magic lamp’ – it magically makes content work on mobile.  Adaptive design on its own does not equate to an optimised mobile or table solution! Caveat emptor! (buyer beware).  Mobile is about immediacy, if a prospective buyer is accessing branded content via a mobile, then the likelihood they want corporate spiel is low – they’re probably just looking for a phone number, address or some location based service.  This means rendering the the same content from your website possibly won’t be what they’re wanting.  Content on mobile is often bite-size and specific.  On the other hand if they are on their sofa watching a movie and whilst perhaps surfing on their tablet, they would probably be more receptive to a fuller site; a more in-depth experience. eBay have a really good mobile site, it’s easy to view your watch list, place a bid and communicate with the buyer/seller.
  • Metrics: it can’t be said enough; measure, measure, measure!  The uniqueness of mobile is the ability to specifically target customers.  However, in order to do this one needs to measure the right goals (actions you intend the customer to carry out e.g. click to call, send an enquiry etc.), understand the data and apply it.  For example, how does a customers content needs vary with different times of the day.  If they hold an executive position and juggle the demands of family life, they may be more likely to consume child related promotions before 9am, whilst being more receptive to other personal related promotions during the day.  Needless to say metrics and reporting go hand in hand, and it’s important that you can provide your senior business stakeholders with the relevant key data to access via tablet, mobile or web.
Try and fail fast – test various design and content format and measure to see what works most effectively for your business.


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What will todays 1 year old want when they buy a car?!

I’d like to think that my little cousin is ecstatic about me visiting because he loves me to bits 🙂 but I think the reality is he loves my iPad more!!  I’m really in trouble when his 3 year old brother get his hands on it or worse still my phone!!  This is the reality of ‘digital kids’.  They’re growing up with the benchmark of tablet functionality so pretty much expect nothing less.  So what will their technology expectations be when they drive their first car?

According to Intel’s Staci Palmer, by 2013 the car is predicted to be the third most connected place people spend time and by 2016 there will another crucial factor in the purchase decision: how connected is my car!  Because of this, in The Telegraph’s article The connected car: coming to your street soon  it’s reported Intel has invested $100m over the next three to five years to act as a catalyst for innovation and to build relationships with manufacturers.

As we know technology is reshaping the way we research, engage, connect and purchase.  The question is will the gap increase between the digital experience manufacturers and dealers offer and what customers expect?  It’s one thing looking ahead to what todays one year old will expect (and rightly so), but at the moment so many fall short of even the basics in providing todays customer with an optimised multi-device and location experience.  In the UK its reported that 70% of businesses are not mobile optimised – shocking!  According to IAB research, if your mobile site hasn’t loaded within 3 seconds your customer has gone to a competitor!  It’s becoming more important that the online showroom experience is more consistent with the offline bricks-and-mortar showroom experience.  Are you turning away potential customers online?

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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.


  • 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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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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To app or not to app

The on-going debate continues about whether businesses should invest in apps or browser-optimised mobile sites.  The view is very much dependent on whom you ask.  It’s worthwhile noting some stats from a recent IAB UK (Internet Advertising Bureau) survey.

Retailers without mobile optimised sites are losing out on over a quarter of potential business, according to new research on m-commerce conducted by the Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB). Alex Kozloff, Senior Mobile Manager at the IAB, describes this as businesses effectively closing their doors for two days out of the week.

The majority of respondents preferred to buy a product or service from a mobile website (40%) with only 17% preferring to use an app. While average spend was also higher on websites standing at £20, compared to an average of £13 on applications.

When considering where to invest in app development or a mobile browser site, go back to the basics; is it about targeting prospects with location based services, or are you looking to improve your existing retention programme, what’s your likely ROI, do you have a clear mobile strategy.   Econsultancy has a great article with 3 simple yet effective rules – common but good sense!

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