How Mobile Traffic Should Be Changing Your Online Marketing Strategy

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According to a recent study conducted by Walker Sands Communications, mobile traffic is growing in leaps and bounds. But is your online marketing strategy ready for the jump to a mobile world?

Mobile technology is changing the way consumers access brands and information. No surprise there. But according to a recent study by the company I work for, Walker Sands, the number of web users leveraging mobile access is growing at an exponential rate.

Walker Sands’ Q3 Web Traffic Report, a quarterly measurement of web traffic across a range B2B and B2C companies, reveals that mobile traffic accounted for more than 10% of total web traffic in Q3 2011 – up from just 4% in Q3 2010.

With mobile traffic experiencing a 153% year-over-year gain, it’s critical for online marketers to understand the ramifications of an environment in which smartphones and small screen devices now represent 1 out of every 10 online brand connections.

Most people are well versed in the growth in smartphone sales, but few consider the impact of this on their own site. Companies think only the most sophisticated consumers are browsing on a smartphone. Our study shows that across every industry, even traditional ones like construction, manufacturing, and logistics, mobile now accounts for a statistically significant percentage of all website traffic. Any business with an online presence should be planning strategies for this channel.

Small Screen Mobile Strategies for Online Marketers

The Q3 Web Traffic Report also revealed that the vast majority (87%) of mobile web traffic originates from small screen smartphone devices.

Although tablet browsing is experiencing gains, the tablet experience mimics the PC experience, making it particularly important for online marketers to develop strategies geared specifically toward small screen web traffic.

  • Flash. Smartphones (and tablets) are notorious for their inability to render flash. Consequently, you may want to limit the time and resources you invest in sophisticated flash features, many of which aren’t visible to either search engines or mobile channel customers.
  • Navigation. Navigation is more complicated on a small screen device than it is on a PC or tablet. Many mobile devices simply can’t navigate dropdown menus and other features, so it’s important to provide secondary navigation options and deep links to accommodate your brand’s growing mobile channel.
  • Display. Effective mobile optimization requires marketers to display text in a manner that is suitable for small screens. If users are forced to scroll horizontally to read text or perform other viewing gymnastics, your may sacrifice your ability to connect with a tenth of your online customer base.
  • Conversion. Ever tried to complete a long, complicated form on a mobile device? It’s no fun. Mobile users are even less likely than PC users to complete a form when it requires them to fill out a dozen fields or decipher a Captcha. Streamline your conversion process and design forms that are useful to mobile channel users.

Moving forward, it’s expected that mobile traffic will capture an even larger share of the online channel, especially for brands that execute email marketing campaigns. For marketers, the trend toward increased mobile traffic underscores the need to review your online assets and proactively implement steps to make your site more mobile-friendly.

About the Author

John Fairley is the Director of Digital Services at Walker Sands Communications, a full-service marketing and public relations firm focused on delivering growth for business-to-business clients.

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  1. Flash is bad for SEO and for mobile. The search engines can't see any of your website built in flash, so if a lot of your content is that way you're losing all the potential SEO value of it. And flash on mobile devices almost never works the way you want it to.