5 tips to “mobilise” your business in time for Christmas

Ross McDonald, Head of Retail at Google Australia and New Zealand offers his five tips to ensure you don't miss out on the 25% of consumers researching purchases with mobile technology.

As My Business has reported, smart phones are becoming an increasingly prevalent and important marketing tool.

The good news, says Ross McDonald, Head of Retail at Google Australia and New Zealand, is that you can catch the mobile wave before Christmas with these five tips.

1. Do a “mobile health check”: is your website optimised for mobile?

A mobile-friendly site is a website designed specifically to be viewed and used on a smartphone.

It’s not hard to find out whether your site passes the test. Google provides a quick and easy tool that shows you how your current site looks on mobile and provides a personalised report on what’s working, and what could be improved (http://www.howtogomo.com/en/).

Alternately, you can grab the closest smartphone, open your company’s website in the phone’s browser, and start exploring. Can you read the text without squinting, zooming, or scrolling? Are any of the images slow to load on your mobile connection, or even broken? Do you have to pan around to view the whole page? If your answer to any of these questions is “yes” then your site isn’t mobile friendly.

A room in Google's Sydney offices.

Of course, if you don’t have one, you should...

2. Diagnose what you want your customers to do on mobile.

If you’re worried about the time or effort it takes to make your site mobile-friendly, don’t be. You don’t have to redo your entire website: just think about how your customer will find and use your site, and focus your efforts on the parts of your site that meets their immediate needs. Do they need to be able to browse through your goods and buy them online? Or do they just want a phone number and a map?

3. Build a mobile-optimised website.

Once you’ve decided what you want your customers to be able to do, it’s easier than you probably think to start building your site. For example, studies show that customers often use their smartphones to research, call, and visit physical businesses. That means that for many retailers, the best thing to do is create a mobile-friendly landing page with focus on the basics, like location, hours, and contact information.

You can use a free tool like Google’s mobile site builder, which lets you choose from 6 simple ready-for-mobile templates. The templates are lightweight – which means they load quickly – with “call to actions” (like buttons customers can click to call your business, or expandable maps) prominently featured. Alternately, you could choose a mobile site builder from http://www.howtogomo.com/en/#build-your-site.

4. Educate yourself about mobile ads.

If your mobile-friendly website is up and running, you can start thinking about advertising on mobile phones. Mobile ads offer lots of capabilities that more traditional digital formats don’t. For example: Google’s click-to-call ad format enables users to tap a phone number to call a business directly from within an ad. Hyperlocal features tell customers how close they are to an advertiser’s physical location, within the ad.

5. Build your mobile ads strategy – based on what your customers want.

Getting started is easy: if you’re a Google AdWords customer, you’re automatically opted-in to mobile ads on smartphones. If you’re new to mobile ads, ask yourself when your customer actually uses their mobile, and how you can best reach them.

For example, if you want to drive foot traffic to your store, location is especially relevant. Choose an ad format that includes directions and a map within the ad to direct prospective customers to your store with directions and a map within the ad. Or, choose a hyperlocal ad that shows distance information within the ad, alerting customers that they’re close enough to your business to drop by.

Our data shows that this Christmas, more people than ever will be looking for you on mobile phones. But Christmas is a marathon, not a sprint, which means it’s not too late to be early – yet.

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