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Mobile Web Usage is Growing Faster than Google Expected

mobile phones through the yearsEric Schmidt, CEO of Google, recently did a keynote in which he described the rate at which mobile device usage is growing, and moreover how folks are turning to the mobile web for information, entertainment and shopping faster than anyone at Google expected. There are certain topics in the tech industry as it relates to small businesses that are "sometime soon" topics. What I mean by that is there are some awesome tools that a small business can apply now to jump ahead of the curve (and benefit greatly as a result), things like QR codes, location-based services and tablet computing devices like the iPad. Then there are more pertinent aspects of the web and technology that, if you haven't already explored or developed a strategy for you're missing the boat. The most obvious among these are establishing a brand on the most popular social networks, but now more than ever it's increasingly important to have a mobile strategy...after all, that's how your customers and prospects are trying to interact with you!

In the video to the right Eric Schmidt discusses some of the growth rates they saw as it related to this year's super bowl. Some of the most impressive stats are:

  • There are over 200 million mobile YouTube playbacks per day.
  • 78% of smartphone users are using their phones while shopping.

The first stat stuck out to me because I had originally considered writing a post today about how powerful YouTube can be as a marketing tool, but the second one is staggering if you're trying to market to customers. He also covered the rate at which mobile search (searches made from a mobile device, such as a phone) are out-growing desktop searches (searches made from a computer). In a way, this makes sense. What do people always have on them these days? Their phone. It's simply more convenient to use the device that's in your pocket to search on Google than it is to run back to a computer, especially considering that the mobile search experience rivals that of the desktop. In fact in some cases I think searching with a phone is easier than using a computer, because many devices allow you to search by voice command rather than by typing.

Food for Thought

It's easy for me to shout the importance of supporting mobile from the mountain tops, but what can you do right now to find out if your small business is mobile friendly? The most important thing is, assuming you've already developed a user-friendly website, visit it from a mobile internet-enabled device. If you have to, ask a friend or family member to do the same (after all, it's always good to get an unbiased opinion). Make note of how browsing the website from a phone compares to using the desktop version. Keep these questions in mind:

Do you have quick access to relevant information?
Put yourself in the shoes of a customer, are you able to get access to information that would be relevant to your purchasing experience without too many clicks or redirects?

Is it easy for me to contact someone?
Okay, the customer has found the information they're looking for, now how can they take action on it? If you're selling a product are they able to access a mobile e-commerce store? If they have a question can they contact someone with a form or are there call-outs with a number to call or text? The average joe's patience can wear thin if not, and that can mean the difference between a new customer and a lost client.

Is the site "finger friendly?"
More and more mobile phones and tablet devices are using touch screens which don't give as much precision as a mouse pointer does. Do you find it easy to click on buttons and links with your finger, or are they too small? Is text formatted properly or do you need to do a lot of zooming in order to find what you're looking for? Ease of use is extremely important from a mobile device's smaller screen, and nothing's more frustrating that clicking the wrong part of a website because the item you're after is about the width of the customer's fingernail!

If your answers to those three questions were yes then congratulations, it sounds like you or your web marketing firm has implemented a useable marketing platform that has the potential to generate leads! If your answers to any of the questions were no, then it's probably time to re-evaluate your mobile strategy and join us in 2011, the year when the mobile web is far from a "sometime soon" strategy.