We all keep hearing how hot mobile is.
AllthingsD reported a few months ago that mobile now accounts for 20% of all internet traffic in the US. Yup, you read that right, 1 in 5.
The simple fact is, if you are doing business on the internet, and you do not have a plan to account for your mobile users, you are leaving money on the table.
I understand it is hard. It’s like those bushes in front of your house that keep growing, unmanacured. You know you need to do something about it, but for now you have gotten use to not being able to see out those windows.
Some businesses still don’t even have a website. Believe it or not, Network Solutions reported [PDF] that only 50% of small businesses have websites. When I say you need a plan, I am talking about businesses that need their websites to do business.
If a significant amount of your sales or leads come in through your website, now is the time to make that funnel mobile friendly, because your competitors might already have beaten you there.
Putting Your Mobile Plan In Place
At Social Fresh we are dealing with this issue right now. We are pretty comfortable with our emails being read easily on mobile. But as for the rest of our mobile plan, we have some work to do. As we put this plan together, I thought I would give you an inside look and encourage you do put together a mobile plan of your own.
There are five sections of your mobile plan that should be considered. Three of these are mandatory: email, mobile website, and mobile media. The final two are optional. Consider them the extra credit: mobile app and text message subscribers.
1. Mobile email
Email is a big part of Social Fresh. Thousands of you enter your email in our sidebar and get our blog posts straight to your email inbox each day. Even more of you sign up for our webinars, ebooks, conferences, and training. We like to send out free resources to our list and then occasionally let them know when we have a premium product that goes on sale.
If our customers get our emails but cannot read them, click on them, understand them, then our whole business model breaks down. This is true for many businesses. And many of us are rightfully investing in email marketing.
For Social Fresh we have moved almost exclusively to text based emails. Yes, we lose a bit of pizazz, but we gain clear communication. Text based emails are handled pretty well on all mobile devices. If you are using a big blocky complicated email template, you might be writing off all of your mobile readers.
Some smart phones handle template emails well, like an iPhone. But many do not. The iPhone, for instance, is the only mobile OS that automatically turns on email images. Also, think of all those non smartphones out there. They all get email, but not many of them will display your image heavy email well.
And you can make your emails still look interesting while using text only. Here is a glimpse at the Social Fresh daily blog post email.
Is it beautiful? I am ok saying no. But can your eye quickly find a link to today’s article? Yes. Is it easy for fingers to find and click the links? Yes. We use background colors to make the text more like a button. See an unsubscribe button in red, today’s article in orange, and for good measure a green read more button.
There is additional text for our web based email readers, but our mobile users still get a good experience.
I am not claiming our solution is perfect. I am not even claiming that you cannot use images on mobile. But consider your options. And of course test.
Amy Porterfield does a great job with her emails. She uses a simple template that is sized just right for mobile and yet shows up well on web based email browsers too.
Another thing to keep in mind with some email templates is that they get the sizes wrong. Even in gmail, the most popular web based email, I get emails all the time that are too wide or break down with how Gmail handles their formatting.
Text never breaks down.
As with each of these mobile plan steps, test for yourself. Test on an iPhone, Android, Windows phone, and Blackberry. See what your emails look like today. Ask yourself what your mobile readers really want to click on in your mobile emails and make that task easier.
2. Mobile website
Making your website friendly for mobile is becoming a required task. Luckily, many content management systems today have plugins that make it easy for your website to display perfectly on today’s smart phones and iPads. We use WordPress, and WPtouch is a plugin I would recommend for many. Some of these free plugins work better than others.
A good example of one of these WordPress themes in action can be found over at Chris Brogan’s website. And yes, you have to visit his site on a mobile device to see it.
Today SocialFresh.com, and all of our websites, do not have mobile versions enabled. But we are getting there. We have a design and we are ready to release that design in the coming months.
If you have the resources, I would put together a very simple custom design for your mobile site. A great example of a custom mobile theme can be found over at Jason Falls’ website (Social Media Explorer). It is very mobile friendly and focuses on fewer calls to action than his full website. If you do not have these resources, I would investigate the free plugins available to you through your website’s content management system.
For Social Fresh, we want our readers to easily jump from article to article, as well as easily enter their email address. So we are designing a mobile theme that focuses on exactly that. It will cut out many of the site’s links, things like About and Contact. And instead focus on our content.
Figure out what you want your mobile website visitors to do and focus on a mobile version of your site that makes this task easy.
This takes a bit more work than making your email mobile friendly, but can be a very important audience.
3. Mobile media consumption
This is a smaller step when compared to your website, but often an overlooked one.
Simply put, make sure all of your content is working well on mobile devices. If you have a video on your site, can mobile visitors easily watch it? If you have a large infographic is it readable on smartphones?
You know the feeling, you are on your smartphone and wind up on a blog post whose entire purpose is to get you to watch this cool video. And yet, there is no video, or it is cropped weird, or just will not play.
Allowing your mobile readers to get full access to the content you are creating is important to maintain the full experience for everyone.
Test your media formats on different mobile devices. Use Youtube and Vimeo and custom solutions. And add links below videos and infographics so mobile visitors can click through to a better media source when they have trouble.
4. Mobile app
It is slowly becoming clear that we prefer to use mobile apps, compared to mobile websites. It is simply a better experience.
Now investing in a custom mobile app for your business is a large commitment. It will usually run you a few thousand dollars at a minimum and much more if you are building something tailored for your customers.
If you can, invest in a mobile app. Mobile users will use both your app and your mobile website. But an app sets you apart. If you can separate your business from your competitors by getting an app installed on your customer’s smartphone, it can be a big awareness and access advantage.
Here is the one problem though. Most apps suck. Especially brand apps. Unless you are a media outlet or publisher, it cannot just be a sleek version of your website. You want to create a utility when building a mobile app, and ideally one that they turn to daily.
5. Text message subscribers
Text messaging is not only a teenage addiction, but it is built into every modern cell phone device available. And it is, of course, native to mobile. Meaning you do not have to worry too much about whether your text messages are formated for the right phone or OS. They just work.
Some even believe that text message marketing, or SMS marketing, should be your first mobile marketing step.
SMS is very similar to email. You build a list and then nurture that list. If you are a retail store, event series, local restaurant, SMS messages can be very useful for sharing news about a sale or special benefit. Even B2B or media companies can use SMS messages well to share industry news and breaking reports.
Having a list of SMS subscribers gives you a powerful access to your customers. and one where there is far less competition than there is in most email inboxes. If you have your email mobile plan in place and you want to take the next step, look into companies like JA.TXT for more info.