Why an unresponsive website is the new ‘Yellow Pages’ ad

Mobile Usage

Remember when the number-one, must-have piece of marketing collateral for consumer-facing businesses was the annual ad in the local ‘Yellow Pages’ directory? Be you a big department store, or a self-employed plumber, if you wanted to be visible to local consumers that particular heavyweight directory was one of the standard ways to be a real contender.

How times change! Who could have forecast that internet search engines – typified by the all-conquering Google – would have all-but replaced physical directories when it comes to finding local suppliers of goods and services, not to mention their national and global reach? But such sea-changes are destined to become commonplace as rampant technology and worldwide user-behaviour trends increasingly impact on our ‘normal’ way of doing things.

Take websites. Virtually every business knows it benefits from having one, but how many were launched, briefly admired by the owner, then left to quietly stagnate through being ‘adequate’? What was fit-for-purpose even five years ago can, like the directories of our parents’ generation, be a liability if it’s not in tune with your customers’ current and foreseeable habits.

A recent Mobile Mandate report from OC&C Strategy Consultants, Google and PayPal throws up some fascinating forecasts for smartphone usage by 2020, the early signs of which are already having a major impact on the way we view commercial websites:

• Two-thirds of all UK online retail sales will be actioned by smartphone – that’s £43bn a year

• 80% of all online retail purchases will, in some way, involve a mobile phone 

• UK retailers have been relatively slow in acting to improve customers’ online experience via mobile devices, tests on leading players’ sites finding them between 10–25% slower to load than those of their US counterparts (Google’s own research claims that conversion rates can be increased by 27% by improving load times by just one second)  

• In 2016, £1.25bn was spent by UK shoppers while in-store – £500m of this with a different retailer than that being visited (the infamous ‘Showrooming’ effect that frustrates retailers so much!)  

One of the key takeaways from this research seem to be that mobiles are now very much tried and tested, relied upon to use for serious online transactions, with speed of access and easy viewing of websites being vital to meet user expectations. Websites that are slow to load, or unresponsive to the various screen sizes and proportions of mobiles and tablet devices being used to view them, are no longer good enough for customers who will skip to an alternative supplier’s site at the touch of a button.

Although this research and these forecasts are retail-based, business customers are consumers too and their expectations of online performance will only go up and up. No-one can afford to be complacent about the rise of online browsing via mobile devices – it’s a real trend that is not going to go away.

Does your website give visitors a great user-experience regardless of the device they’re using to view it? Or is it destined to join the old-fashioned directories as something that used to be the way to do things before times changed?

(Footnote: See this interesting article about the situation in the US, confirming mobile usage habits and the need for speed when it comes to accessing sites... http://www.retaildive.com/news/why-retailers-need-to-rethink-what-they-think-about-mobile/439157/ )

 360 Brand & Digital is a Norfolk-based marketing consultancy that specialises in inbound marketing methods, covering most forms of digital marketing that make customers receptive to seeking you out, rather than you having to track them down  www.360brandanddigital.co.uk

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