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The benefits of a mobile-friendly website in an increasingly mobile world cannot be overstated. In 2014, a study by comScore revealed that Americans spend the majority of their time consuming digital media within mobile applications, accounting for 7 of every 8 minutes of overall media consumption. Additional findings by Pew Research in 2015 showed nearly two-thirds (64 percent) of U.S. adults own a smartphone. Seven percent of those smartphone owners are “smartphone-dependent” because they do not have home broadband service and have limited options for going online other than their mobile device.

Smartphones are the go-to device for Internet access. Clearly, there’s no longer a question of whether mobile marketing is important; statistics indicate it is important. Further, it must be. While mobile usability was a factor in Google’s search algorithm for years, as of April 21, 2015, Google required websites to be optimized for mobile users or fail to be found in a search. As Google stated, “If your site’s pages aren’t mobile-friendly, there may be a significant decrease in mobile traffic from Google Search. But have no fear, once your site becomes mobile-friendly, we will automatically re-process (i.e., crawl and index) your pages.”

Being found during an online search is vital and a tremendous benefit for any company’s website. However, there are other benefits of a mobile-friendly site. Here are more:

Improved user experience

When a user accesses your site on a mobile device and he or she does not have to enlarge text or shift the screen to see content, you immediately engage that user. In common terms, the mobile site is “user friendly.” When a site is “user friendly” on a mobile device, the customer can just move forward with their actions in a way that meets their expectations and not spend any time thinking of about the nuts and bolts of the site. Thus, it is important to note that when converting or building a mobile-friendly site, load time, formatting and function should receive proper attention. Sites that are too difficult to read, load too slowly, freeze, crash or function in a way the user does not expect causes abandonment.

Research by KISSmetrics found 60 percent of mobile Internet users encountered at least one problem while browsing on a mobile device. The biggest issue (73%) was that the site was too slow to load. Abandonment increases in seconds. By four seconds, 25 percent of users leave. By six seconds, it jumps to 30 percent abandonment. To help speed up load time, use CSS instead of image files. CSS data is smaller in size than image file data. If you do use images, reduce the dimensions.

Because every phone and every screen is not the same, use a fluid layout. This allows the website to expand or stretch. Ditch Flash; use HTML and/or javascript instead. Consider the data URI scheme to embed data into HTML or CSS. This way you do not use any external files, thus reducing the number of HTTP requests. Use image sprites. These are collections of images within a single image. If, for example, you combine three images into one image, you reduce the number of server requests from three to one.

Rise in engagement

The research by KISSmetrics indicates “a mobile-optimized site is able to generate almost twice the average traffic per user than sites without mobile optimization.” For online-only retailers, they note that a mobile site can “increase consumer engagement by as much as 85 percent.”

Having a mobile-optimized site is also a way to target an audience, one that is mobile. Take advantage of this targeted group to facilitate business and generate greater returns and profits.

Create content that is specifically tailored for mobile devices. This improves the user experience and increases conversion rates. Testing and monitoring metrics helps determine what is and is not successful.

To reduce bounce rates, make the mobile site as “sticky” as possible so users stay. With touch-based mobile navigation in mind, make sure all important information and links are visible (30 to 40 pixels in size) and easy to click. A single column layout and mobile-friendly dropdowns make for best navigation. Keep the content precise, make the user experience seamless and offer mobile-exclusive features where appropriate such as direct call numbers.

Better conversion rates

Getting mobile traffic is one thing, but converting the user is into a customer is another. A study by Millward Brown, the world’s second largest market research organization after Nielsen Company, found that on average, consumers use 2.6 devices online to convert. That is because the way people use a desktop computer is different than a tablet or their phone. To get a better conversion rate from mobile device, research and understand what the customer is seeking on each device. What are the different things they expect from a desktop view? What can you then deliver on a mobile?

Having a mobile-friendly website puts a business ahead of the competition. Having a mobile-friendly website that works well, keeps the user engaged and converts them into a customer helps a business consistently beat the competition.

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