From smartphones to tablets, mobile devices are increasingly dominating the time consumers spend consuming digital media. And it’s really no surprise – we all know it was already in 2015 that mobile search surpassed desktop searches. In certain emerging markets, like Indonesia, they’ve completely skipped desktop adoption and pressed fast forward on mobile-first with 91% of digital time spent on mobile. But what are consumers really doing on their mobile devices? And more importantly, how can small and medium businesses (SMBs) take advantage in order to drive more business?

Mobile App Usage is Skyrocketing

Recent estimates show that in 2018 the average US adult will spend an average of three hours and 35 minutes per day on their mobile devices, and 90% of that time will be spent in mobile apps. Business owners know that consumers are increasingly mobile first and that Google continues to push mobile-indexing — so they need to take action if they want to grow online. But what can SMBs do to ensure a strong mobile-first strategy?

Small businesses could consider a native app. The adoption of apps has been on a steady increase — with dedicated apps being developed for just about every kind of need, from communication (messaging/calling) to entertainment (music/video/games) to practical functions (flashlight, calculator and weather). Here comes the but. Investing in an app is expensive. A native app could easily take up a significant portion of an SMB’s otherwise limited budget, and the competition to get users to adopt them is tough. Furthermore, the reality is that most apps get deleted within a week of getting downloaded, which further makes it a risky investment. However, there is a viable alternative.

A New Future for the Mobile Web

Innovative mobile-first options are emerging for SMBs based on web technologies that are significantly improving the usability, speed, and quality of the mobile web. Progressive Web Apps (PWA) and Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) are two big technology initiatives that are increasingly being promoted by Google to improve the mobile experience for users. They also represent great opportunities for SMBs to market their business on the mobile web. Unlike prior frustration with the mobile web being slow and less user-friendly than apps, these new technologies tackle these challenges head on and also deliver app-like functionality, including offline access and full-screen experience websites.

A Realistic Solution for Small Businesses

With an improved mobile web, it’s important for digital service providers to help their SMB clients understand how to leverage these new technologies to their full potential. A fundamental part of this is helping them understand a strong mobile strategy doesn’t need to be expensive, and that their existing website can be leveraged to build a strong presence on the mobile web.

Let’s look at the opportunities PWA provide for example. SMBs may not be able to offer their customers an app, but with PWA they can make their website directly accessible via an app icon on mobile home screens and offer more app-like functionality, such as a full-screen experience and offline access. Website platforms increasingly offer this functionality out of the box. This means no custom development, and that PWA can be enabled within a few minutes on SMB websites to quickly provide mobile visitors a more engaging experience no matter what their internet connection may be.

Source: Google, 2018

As the mobile web becomes more dynamic and user-friendly, SMBs will be able to execute a mobile-first strategy within their digital budget and skill set – and based on a familiar digital marketing asset – their websites. And as the saying goes: Be where your customers are. Delivering a richer mobile web experience is an important investment in acquiring the modern consumer.

Editor’s Note: The Tech Adoption Index blog accepts guest submissions from individuals in the small business software community who have something of value to share, from tips on sales execution to new ideas on go-to-market strategy or thought-leading pieces on the future of the SMB market. If you have an idea for a guest post, please contact Charles@TheLSA.org.

 

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