Readying Mobile-Ready SMB Websites

Web traffic in the United States will be evenly divided between desktops and mobile devices as soon as 2015. Are your clients’ websites ready? By Esther Shein

Depending on whom you ask, anywhere from less than 10 percent to as much as 23 percent of businesses currently have “mobile device-friendly” websites that are optimized for access, rendering, and readability on a tablet or smartphone. At the same time, 10 percent of all Web traffic now originates from mobile devices. And one thing's certain: That figure is only going to grow.

“Mobile websites are a great entry point into satisfying consumers' hunger for consumption of information and commerce on-the-go,” says Justin Chambers, mobile strategist at Lextech Global Services, a mobile technology strategy and development company in Lisle, Ill. “As mobility becomes even more ubiquitous, for many customers the mobile experience will be the only one they have.”

Indeed, countries like India have already reached the inflection point where mobile and desktop Web traffic is evenly divided, and the United States is expected to arrive there by 2015, according to Itai Sadan, CEO and co-founder of DudaMobile Inc., a maker of customized mobile website templates headquartered in Palo Alto, Calif. “That means businesses have to think about their mobile strategy, and VARs who are earlier in the adoption cycle should be the ones helping small businesses to get ready [for] that point in time [when] most of their visitors will be coming from mobile devices.”

Already, in fact, 30 percent of restaurant searches are done on mobile devices, Sadan says. Other vertical industries with strong mobile website needs include professional services - such as legal and accounting - healthcare, travel, and automotive.

SMBs are especially good candidates for mobile website services, Sadan observes. According to data from search giant Google, he notes, 40 percent of all searches involve people looking for businesses in their geographic vicinity. “So if you're a local business it's very important for you to be found,” Sadan says.

However, channel pros should guide their clients through a careful consideration of what they hope to accomplish with a mobile-friendly website, as there's no single reason to have one, according to Laurie McCabe, a partner at analyst firm SMB Group Inc. That means helping clients figure out how their customers want to interact with them on a mobile device. Is it to make purchases and appointments, or to get information? If it's a combination of things, McCabe says, a mobile website is usually a more effective solution than a mobile app.

“The important thing is to be thinking about how you're going to do this over time and find someone to work with who can be a trusted adviser to you in this area and help you go at the pace that suits your needs without breaking the bank,” McCabe says. Right up a channel partner's alley.

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