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Starting an online business

16 October 2019

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Mobile-first in Google: Why it is so good

Mobile-first is a modern eMarketing strategy, targeting the audience that uses mobile devices. We live in the modern world, where the popularity of mobile phones reaches new heights every day. More than 1.2 billion peoples are using mobile devices as a primary web-surfing tool, and we must adapt websites, to please our potential clients. Here, in this article, I will tell you basic information about Mobile Marketing and all the benefits that this strategy can bring.

According to the Smart Insights, mobile marketing takes fourth place in the Top-rated digital marketing techniques 2017 list.

smart insights digital marketing techniques 2017

what is mobile-first website

When you are surfing the web on a mobile device, you may notice that some websites look more attractive and more functional, some of them download faster, despite the amount of content on them. The answer is how the website is optimized for mobile devices. 

Long story short: Mobile First strategy is about optimizing your website to the needs of mobile users. Functionality, design, user-friendly interface on mobile screens - these are the issues that we need to solve to bring the best possible experience to our potential customers. 

A website that firstly was created for big monitors can contain a lot of useful info, videos, animation, and even some wow-effects. Your landing page may be big and beautiful, but it hardly fits on the screen of the mobile devices. If you want that the customer saw all the information, then cut off most of the decorative parts on your landing page. Sometimes you need to go on compromises to increase the usability of your website.

Most of the companies, that love their website from the development stage, can not make such sacrifice, thinking that users will be okay with the current state of the design. But the answer is no, potential customers will not be okay with such an unresponsive website and will quickly leave your resource, coming to direct competitors that will offer them much more pleasurable experience.

Mobile Devices will account for 75% of global Internet use next year, according to Zenith's new Mobile Advertising Forecasts, published today. The mobile proportion of internet use has increased rapidly, from 40% in 2012 to 68% in 2016, and we forecast it to reach 79% by 2018.

Zenith - The ROI agency

That means that most of your potential customers are using mobile devices as a primary tool to search for information, and if they will think that your website is not as user-friendly as your direct competitor has, then think by yourself, where they will make an order?

Concluding this block, I can say that the mobile-first approach is that the site firstly must be created for small displays, and only after developing a mobile prototype you can add more details for a desktop version.

Mobile First - Advantages

If you decided to use this mobile-first approach, then you will receive a friendly website, that:

  • Ideally fits into the mobile screens;
  • Nicely looks on the wide desktop displays;
  • Has impressive download speed;
  • Contains only important info in the right places;
  • Rank better, due to Google's ranking factors.

Always keep in mind, that your website was created for users, therefore, each element must be thought out and functional. If you have an opportunity to optimize your website to smartphones, do it. Such an approach brings too many advantages, and cannot be ignored.

Content is King

Mobile displays are small, and you just do not have a place for animations (except animations for microinteractions), parallax effects and other elements that designers add just to add a wow-effect. Use all available space with maximum efficiency. Yes, this reduces the importance of design, but it does not matter. After all, in contemporary eMarketing, everything is ruled by the content. And this is exactly the most important advantage of the Mobile First strategy.

Content - the primary part of your website. Nothing will help if you do not have enough content. And here Mobile-First comes to the rescue. You will see everything you need, without the fancy elements that may hide the lack of content on your website. At this point, you will be free to decide whether you need new articles or you will cope with what you have at the moment.

Fast downloads lead to high positions

As you already know - Google loves mobile-first websites and gives them better positions in the ranking, but this is not all. After applying Mobile First you will get rid of some useless parts and greatly facilitate the "weight" of the site, which will increase the speed of its loading on various devices without a good internet connection. And it is not a secret, that Google takes download time as one of the primary indicators. So you can easily kill two birds with one stone: make your project user-friendly and increase your position in Google's ranking. That means that being engaged in Mobile First, you also do SEO optimization.

Mobile optimization today is so important that some companies even set limits on the internet speed to imitate slow data connections. Facebook, for example, even started a new initiative called "2g Tuesdays", when the UX (User eXperience) team is logging into the company's app through a simulated 2G network.

For that next hour, their experience on Facebook will be very much like the experience that millions of people around the world have on Facebook on a 2G connection.

Tom Alison - Facebook engineer

Mobile online sales

Every day people have less and less time to use a desktop computer, but the amount of money that they spend on online shopping only grows. And this means that people prefer buying mobile devices. Mobile shopping hits record numbers over Thanksgiving and Black Friday.

Thanksgiving recently breaks $2B in online sales, and 54% of visits came from mobile devices (44% - Smartphones; 10% - Tablets). But 15% of these mobile visitors still prefer to use desktop computers to seal the deal, only 39% of purchases were done from mobile devices.

Black Friday is not far ahead and in 2016 around 55% of all traffic came from mobile devices (45% - Smartphones; 10% - Tablets). And 48% of sales came from mobile devices.

As you can see these are pretty impressive numbers, and if you do not want to lose half of the potential customers, it is time to think about mobile optimization.

If you still do not convince in the usability of this approach, IBM created a special page where you access to online shopping trends.

ecommerce mobile retail data

Here you can find live U.S. Retail Data:

  • Online sales from Mobile devices;
  • Online Traffic from Mobile devices;
  • Average Order Value;
  • Conversion rate;
  • Page Views per Session;
  • Bounce Rate;
  • Abandonment Rate.

MOBILE FIRST - disADVANTAGES

The main problem is flowing from the main advantage - you just have no place where you can be creative. When you transfer a site from a small phone screen to a 27-inch monitor, your designer will have the opportunity to increase your logo, decorate the blocks, but in general, everything will remain in a minimalistic style. If you do not mind anything about it, then safely try out the Mobile-First web design, and receive many thanks from mobile users all around the world.

Another problem - you can abandon developments after a mobile version is ready. The great example is the famous social network - Instagram and it's desktop version, that does not have any differences from the mobile version. Such websites often called a Mobile Only and it could work only in extremely specified niches. So if you decided to use the mobile-first web development, then bring the matter to the end and make the site responsive for both, mobile and desktop devices.

Mobile First: how to?

You will have two main issues that you need to solve if you decided to apply Mobile-First:

  1. Design Philosophy
  2. Technical Issues

It is very important to consider these two issues separately, otherwise, too many questions will appear that will confuse you and will harden the very process of the developing of the website.

Design Philosophy

The hardest thing to understand, where most of the newcomers in the eCommerce are facing troubles. They want a gorgeous website, that looks fancy on PC, but most of them do not understand that all these decorative details cannot fit in the small displays of the mobile devices

The very Mobile-first web design philosophy is in creating your sale landing page as comfortable for the mobile devices as possible. This approach almost completely removes the ability to add various fancy elements that could create a wow effect, so carefully monitor the content of your landing page. Even if you cannot hold visitors' attention with designer tricks, you should interest them with the interesting info and the extremely high quality of the very content. But this is not the strict rule, and if you understand all the restrictions and limitations of the mobile resolutions, you can start from the desktop version, and only then adapt it to mobile devices.

The idea of this approach is that the mobile version of the site should contain the same message as the desktop version and that the users of mobile devices do not feel limited in functionality or convenience. 

Let's take as an example free live chat - Astratalk. As you can see, the core message remains the same, but the site itself looks different and much more friendly for mobile users.

astratalk mobile version

Technical issues

From a technical side, you can apply Mobile-First through a few ways, like identifying a user agent on the server and adaptive web design from the client-side.

We need to realize the difference between Adaptive Design, Mobile First, and Responsive Design.

Adaptive Design

The adaptive design takes already existing elements and adapts them to a mobile resolution, but it doesn't decrease the weight of these elements and this can lead to a slow download of your moneysite on mobile devices. 

In other words, Adaptive Design firstly downloads all available elements of the page and only then hides or rescales these elements.

Conclusion: Fewer decorations - same page download speed.

Responsive Design

Responsive design is almost the same as Adaptive, but the elements are scaled not only when you reach breakpoints. Responsive websites respond to the size of the browser at any given point. 

Conclusion: It adapts to the changes in the window on-line

Mobile-First Design

Mobile First firstly downloads the basic version of the website that was first developed to the mobile devices, any additional features, like styles, and additional functionality features can be enabled further, depending on the browser, the type of device and the resolution of the screen. 

Conclusion: Fastest download speed and impressive overall results.

Mobile FIRST EXAMPLES

Here we will look at how such brands as Hotwire, TurboTax, and Walgreens use Mobile-First, and how they beat their competitors.

First of all, these companies are well performed on all available mobile devices, and anyone can use the full functionality of a website, despite a device. Walgreens and TurboTax have an adaptive website with elements on the server's side, while Hotwire uses mobile URL-addresses. These methods allow users to access full functionality through several screens.

Advantages of mobile devices

If your website is adapted for mobile devices, then you can use all the pros of mobile devices, like the camera, GPS-navigation, etc.

Walgreens has a special app, that checking your position, and if you located in one of their shops, then you will receive special personalized offers.

Hotwire can integrate with smartwatches, like Apple Watch, and send reminders about the closest gas stations and the petrol prices when you return a car to the rental.

TurboTax created an app with which you can scan tax form W2 (deduction from the employee's salary) and import this data into the program, and even give direct access to a specialist through a video call.

Professionals about mobile FIRST

Even the brightest minds of Internet marketers have to recognize the dominance of mobile technologies in the e-commerce environment. Below, I gave you some interesting quotes from representatives of companies that already were considered.

Hotwire

Alex Otrezov, Senior Director of Paid Search Operations in Hotwire noticed that companies, that have a great experience in the apps will not meet any troubles if they decide to apply the Mobile-First Strategy. Users already registered in the app, so the company already has plenty of data to work with.

Since mobile application users are sufficiently advanced in the mobile, it was very important to adapt to the mobile platform for travel needs.

Alex Otrezov - Hotwire

TurboTax

Courtney Ferguson, senior product manager in TurboTax Mobile once noticed, that the world is rapidly changing, and companies should change too, to please clients and stay actual on the market.

Now, in the time of the explosive popularity of mobile devices, companies just cannot afford not to use the mobile-first strategy... We need to be where they are (customers), and create a compelling offer for them, quickly and often on a small screen format.

Courtney Ferguson - TurboTax

Walgreens

Benjamin Weiss, mobile product manager in Walgreens noticed that they pay the same attention to both the mobile version of the site and the desktop, but the important point is in providing unique opportunities within each channel.

Mobile FIRST - trends

Mobile marketing is developing fastly, and each year it follows various trends. The question is what trends it will follow in the upcoming one? 

Security

eCommerce is digging deeper into the mobile sphere, and mobile security issues just can not be ignored. Most of the apps are not as secured as they needed, so businesses and marketers will spend a lot of resources in this sphere.

geolocation

One of the best opportunities for mobile marketing is location-based marketing.

Location-based advertising is seen by 66% of respondents as the most exciting mobile opportunity, whilst 52% agree that wearable technology is an excellent opportunity for the industry. Furthermore, 56% of respondents plan to start advertising on wearables in the next 12 months.

Internet Advertising Bureau UK

Location-based Marketing is a mobile evolution of individual marketing, where each customer is treated as a separate person and being offered with unique proposals and conditions.

Merging with BIG DATA

Big Data is one of the leading eMarketing trends for the next year, according to the Smart Insights.

Big Data is a popular approach in the eMarketing, but what is it? The definition of the term lies on the surface: "Big data" means the management and analysis of very large amounts of data. It is information that can not be processed in classical ways due to large volumes.

Big Data can bring the next opportunities to you:

  • It will increase the understanding of your customers, through which you will be able to attract more audience;
  • You will find new ways to increase customer confidence in your proposal or brand; 
  • You will understand which projects your audience needs.

Big data is a very complicated marketing technique, and I will try to tell you about it in another article.

So the real question of this trend is how your business deals with big data, and how you can use it in pairs with mobile marketing.

Google amp

The AMP Project is an open-source initiative aiming to make the web better for all. The project enables the creation of websites and ads that are consistently fast, beautiful and high-performing across devices and distribution platforms.

Google AMP

Even now businesses and companies that already used AMP saw an improvement of click-through rate up to 90%, and marketers expect that AMP will be a major player in mobile marketing for next year.

Mobile Only social networks

Social networks like Snapchat, Instagram and WhatsApp are growing each year and marketers should take this into account, considering the strategy for 2017.

While Twitter celebrated growing its active audience by 9 million people in the first quarter of 2017, Instagram did a little celebrating of its own. The image-sharing platform owned by Facebook announced that it now has 700 million active users, more than twice the number of Twitter users. 

Felix Richter - Statista

speech recognition

Speech recognition is developing fastly and Google reported that around 20% of all queries on its mobile app was done through voice searches. So if your website is not yet optimized for voice search requests, it's exactly the time you need to think about adjusting your website to the needs of the customers.

Conclusions about mobile FIRST

If you decided to choose the Mobile-First approach then you will spend a lot of resources and time before you achieve expected results. But this will open your website to mobile users, and they will greatly increase the traffic, and, therefore, the conversion rate will be increased too.

In other words, if you adapt a website for mobile users, you will expand the audience and attract a lot more potential customers. And do not forget that Google is loyal to sites that are adapted to mobile devices and gives them higher positions, which will also affect the growth of traffic.

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