As you plan your digital strategy, there’s a good chance you’ve been hearing – or thinking – about mobile websites. After all, 73 per cent of Canadians have smartphones and a growing number of people are exclusively using mobile devices to access the internet – that’s right, some people are no longer using computers at all.
Those numbers may make a convincing case for building a mobile website but before you do, it’s worth understanding what a mobile website really is, and what it can do for your local business.
Mobile websites vs. mobile apps
Because both mobile websites and mobile apps are designed to be accessed from smartphones, some people may use the two terms interchangeably. But in fact, they are two entirely different things. A mobile website isn’t all that different from a regular website: it’s coded in a computer language called HTML, which can be used to display text, photos, video and other information, and users access the site from a browser such as Apple Safari or Google Chrome.
The key difference between a mobile website and a regular one is that mobile sites are designed to function and look best on a small (often touch) screen. Text and images may appear bigger or be laid out differently so that they look better on smartphones and don’t require users to zoom in, while menus and pulldowns may be slightly altered to work better on touchscreens.
While at one time, optimizing for mobile meant building a second mobile website, increasingly websites are responsive, so the design adapts automatically depending on where your website is being viewed. (To make this all even simpler, Yellow Pages’ website packages include a free mobile website, so every visitor who comes to your site will see the best version for the platform they are using.)
An app, meanwhile, is a unique interface that users must download from an app store and install onto their phones. Apps must be designed specifically for the platform in which they exist (for example, iOS apps for iPhones, and Android apps for the Google Play store). Depending on how they are built, apps may require an Internet connection to view content, or the text and images may be downloaded when the user is online and then accessed later.
A key advantage mobile websites offer over apps is that they are instantly available to mobile searchers, and don’t require prospective customers to download a special application before they can access your mobile content.
So why go mobile?
Well, aside from the growing penetration and use of smartphones in Canada, a website that is properly optimized for mobile can be a major boon for local businesses. Here are a few reasons why:
SEO: Recognizing that people are increasingly searching from their phones, Google has made algorithm changes that favour websites that deliver the best user experience on all platforms. In fact, they’ve gone as far as to delist sites that don’t offer a properly optimized mobile experience. That means if you don’t have a mobile website, your customers won’t be able to find you.
Your customers are searching from their phones: The data overwhelmingly shows that not only are people using their phones to find businesses, they are making offline purchase decisions quickly after searching for local business information on their phones. Data from ComScore found that 88 per cent of smartphone users conduct local searches. Even better, that same study found that 78 per cent of local searches result in an offline sale, usually within hours. Offering a mobile experience means you can also target customers with online search ads when they are nearby – even within blocks of your business (and research shows hyperlocal ads have a 50 per cent higher click rate, to boot).
Going mobile has never been easier: In addition to utilizing a team of design, development, user experience and copywriting experts to bring your website vision to life, Yellow Pages website packages include optimizing your website for mobile, so you can tap into the huge pool of prospective customers who use their smartphones with no additional cost or effort.
Don’t miss opportunities to connect
Mobile websites are an important and powerful tool for reaching Canadians on their smartphones – in fact, it’s more challenging than ever to reach consumers if you don’t have a mobile site. To help you out, we have a free guide to show you how a mobile site can help you reach more customers.