04/05/16

What Does Your Business Need to Do to Succeed in the Growing Mobile Marketplace?

We all know that our customers are glued to their smartphones. We all are, after all. But you may be surprised to learn exactly how much people favor their phones.

Almost 86 percent of the average person’s time online is done through their smartphone, according to mobile analytics firm, Flurry. What’s more, roughly 25 percent of smartphone users only browse the web using their phones, according to stats compiled by data center and security firm, Radware.

Arguably most important, mobile is where consumers are now making their purchases online. More than half of all e-commerce traffic now comes from mobile devices, according to Radware, and mobile e-commerce is experiencing 48 percent faster growth than traditional e-commerce.

Having a mobile strategy is therefore quite important for any business, be it a Fortune 500 company or a small startup.

The trick is not identifying the importance of mobile, however. The real work is implementing a good mobile strategy. Here are five challenges that businesses face when adapting to this new mobile-first world:

1. Supporting Both Mobile and Desktop User Experiences

People might be browsing and buying from their smartphone, but it isn’t time to ditch a traditional website. We still use our laptops some of the time, after all.

This poses the challenge of supporting a digital storefront that both works on mobile and a laptop or desktop.

There are three ways your businesses can tackle this issue. First, you can build a dedicated mobile site and support both a mobile version and a desktop-optimized website. This often is too much work, though. Option two is using a responsive web design that adapts depending on the device viewing it; this is favored by many firms, especially small ones that don’t have a lot of resources. The third option is having a dedicated mobile app and a responsive site–which both brings wide scale compatibility–but also enables deeper functionality on mobile. This is the preferred but most costly path, however.

2. Including Interactive Mobile Features

Mobile users are a fickle lot. If you don’t give them exactly what they want, they go elsewhere. For instance, Localytics found that roughly 55 percent of mobile users will use an app five times or less. They also found that app retention rates are getting worse, not better.

Your business, therefore, must deliver a solid user experience for mobile users. This means more than just using a responsive website theme—it means also making the browsing experience easier by including features that lend themselves well to the mobile experience. Mobile must include easy payment options, interactivity with your business, map integration, and functionalities like click-to-call so customers don’t have to browse for very long to get answers.

“Mobile-first features like click-to-call can both give businesses a personal touch and make it easier for shoppers to make purchases or get their questions answered from their phone. Since click-to-call functionality is embedded into the app, there’s no need to leave it to dial a number and your customer connects with you while remaining within your app, making the experience seamless” notes Tony Zhao, founder, and CEO of real-time video chat provider, Agora.io.

3. Giving Users the Voice Functionality They Prefer and Expect

Among the functionality and features that mobile users expect, one of the most challenging ones is including voice interactivity. For all the innovation around multi-touch and other tap technologies, there’s also a strong pull toward voice-based interactivity such as Google Now and Apple’s Siri. Sites and apps that enable mobile users to interact via voice are better positioned for users on the go.

Delivering on voice interactivity can be tricky, though. One way your business can square this circle is through the inclusion of real-time communications in their app or mobile site. Technologies such as WebRTC allow businesses to inject video chat, calling and video service among users with only a few lines of JavaScript. This isn’t quite the same as Siri-grade voice interactivity, but it is close and sometimes even better. Think Amazon Kindle’s “Mayday” video customer service button, for instance.

4. Keeping Things Speedy

Here’s a scary stat: When an app or website takes more than 3 seconds to load, 57 percent of mobile users will abandon the app or site, according to stats gathered by Mobify.com. Four out of five of these visitors will never return again.

Load times were important in the early days of the web, although lately developers have grown accustomed to broadband connections and visitors who are willing to wait. That’s not the case on mobile, however.

Your businesses can address this challenge by using content delivery networks that cache content closer to users. Your business can also use cloud hosts that can scale automatically when there are traffic spikes, and generally pay great attention to graphic sizes and load times.

5. Avoiding Network Connectivity Issues

Backend hardware that scales isn’t the only challenge for businesses fighting for mobile users. There’s also making sure that poor cellular connections and network bottlenecks don’t cripple features such as click-to-call or third-party functionality. Even 500ms of load time delay can increase customer frustration by 26 percent, according to stats by Radware. It also decreases engagement by 8 percent.

Ensuring good quality of experience is key to make this an effective tool. Businesses are meeting this challenge by insisting on hosting and cloud services optimized for variable network connectivity and the challenges of cellular connectivity. Agora.io, for instance, offers reliable voice and video by using a network of more than 65 global data centers that help bypass network bottlenecks. They also use patent-pending audio and video codecs for better variable connectivity performance.

Nobody said implementing a good mobile strategy would be easy. However, when done correctly, it’s completely worth the time and effort. If your business isn’t mobile, then you’re not where your customer is. What challenges have you had going mobile? How did your business overcome them?

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About the author

JT Ripton and Peter Scott

JT Ripton is a business consultant and freelance writer who has penned articles for The Guardian, Business Insider and Entrepreneur.com among others. You can follow him and check out all of his latest articles on his twitter page @JTRipton

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