A Moving Target: Are Mobile Devices Costing You Business?

There are multiple parties involved in the B2B purchase decision. While several parties have the ability to influence the purchase decision (e.g., purchasing personnel), those with the ability to make the decision are typically very busy, often spending significant time on the road, in airports, in meetings. They may not be tethered to their laptop, but most are inseparable from an iPhone or BlackBerry.

While these decision-makers may not initiate purchase research, they often receive purchase recommendations of others via email, and these emails contain links to sellers’ sites. What could be easier than clearing some emails or doing a couple quick searches with Google Mobile while waiting for the next plane? In the next 10 minutes, an executive could form her initial perceptions of your firm based on what she sees on her iPhone. Are you happy with what she’ll find? Do you even know what she’ll find?

Years ago, we were finishing the build of a new, optimized site for a client. The client wanted the site’s primary navigation to be in Flash. So we incorporated other ways for search engines to get to the site’s content from the home page. We also had plenty of html-based intra-site linking within the copy of the site’s pages. One night, I wanted to check the team’s progress on the site. I grabbed my BlackBerry. I quickly found that the only way a mobile user could actually get into the site from the home page was through html links for things like the site map and privacy policy. While I could get to all the content, it wasn’t a pleasant experience, to say the least. The next day, we began to make changes to speak to the mobile user.

Last spring, the Pew Internet and American Life Project released a study on the use of mobile devices. As of December 2007, 19% of respondents had used their mobile device to access the internet; 7% said they did so regularly, on a typical day. Certainly, these numbers have gone up dramatically since then, and they’ll continue to do so.

If you don’t know what mobile users will experience when they visit your site, you should take the next five minutes to find out. How does your site display? Are there features of your site that don’t even load? Is your site’s primary content easily accessible to mobile users? Are mobile visitors drawn to take desired actions with the same persuasion and ease as desktop users? How long does it take for your site to load? How are images displayed? How easily can mobile users navigate? Is your site engaging to mobile users? Based on what you find, you should either make some changes to your site or create a separate experience for mobile users.

You can also use your analytics to see what mobile users are doing. Most analytics programs allow you to see what platforms visitors are using. You can see what percentage of your visitors are using Safari, Firefox, IE; a Mac or PC; and even XP or Vista. But you can also see how many visitors are using Safari on an iPhone, and you can segment these visitors to determine if their behavior is different from more traditional visitors. How do the bounce rates compare? How long do they stay? How deep are the visits? What are the conversion rates? Wide variance from traditional visitors may indicate the need for changes.

When you look at your analytics, you may be tempted to discount this population because they have far less average page views than traditional visitors. Just remember, your site (not the visitor) may be the primary reason for this. You also may be tempted to discount the importance of this population because mobile users are a small percentage of total site visitors. Keep in mind this population is going to do nothing but grow.

How does your site look on an iPhone?

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.

Related Topics: B2B Search Marketing Column | Channel: Search Marketing

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About The Author: is Managing Director of Proteus SEO , which specializes exclusively in B2B search engine optimization, and Proteus B2B, which specializes in repositioning business-to-business companies and their brands. You can reach Galen at gdeyoung@proteusb2b.com and follow him on Twitter.

Connect with the author via: Email



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