It took 38 years for Radio to reach 50 million users, 14 years for TV, 4 years for the internet...it has taken just 1 year for users of smart phones who use the internet to reach 1 billion. That is revolutionary growth that simply cannot be ignored.
A revolution is a fundamental change in structure within a short period of time, the pace of growth in mobile internet usage can only be described as such, but you still have time to get ahead of the competition. Mobile usage is growing much faster in Japan, closely followed by the USA, with Europe still relatively slow on the uptake, presenting a great opportunity for British business. There are already 20 million mobile internet users in the UK, averaging 172 internet searches per year, both figures are growing by roughly 50% year on year.
Mobile has revolutionised the social networking world, making communicating, observing and buying quicker, easier and more automatic than ever. Where most marketing methods have seen a reduction of impact, the use of search engines and social platforms have increased and with growing 36% of the UK population now owning smartphones (23% browsing the internet daily), the mobile revolution is already well upon us, with sales of smartphones and tablets now dwarfing sales of laptops and pc's.
But what does this mean for business?
Auto Trader enjoy 900,000 visits to their website each month, stats have shown that 45% of these visits are coming from mobile, and many of these are when a prospect is stood on a garage forecourt - using Auto Trader to price compare and negotiate a discount with the garage there and then. Tesco have developed an application that uses GPS to help a customer identify specific shelf locations for their shopping list. 58% of hotel bookings occur within 20 miles of the hotel thanks to mobile web. Paddy Power now takes 10% of all bets via mobile. There are an average of 274bids per second on ebay in the UK from mobile. Where some businesses have taken the mobile mantle, many are as yet still un-prepared.
When it comes to retail, mobile touches every part of retailing, not just Ecommerce. Mobile enables information to be shared so quickly, often the customers in stores know more than the staff and as in the Auto Trader example, use this knowledge to make informed buying decisions. But it is in the world of Ecommerce where mobile is set to make a huge impact. Analysts predict that £3.3 billion will transact in the UK by mobile in 2013.
So how do businesses take advantage?
Well if you retail it's clear and with the advances in mobile technology you may think that you don't have to do anything with your website to appeal to the growing mobile spenders. Savvy retailers are developing apps and mobile friendly sites to enhance their buying experience. Though a smartphone will display a website as you would see it from a pc, statistics show that mobile users prefer not to pinch and expand the screen, soon getting frustrated with slow reaction times and accidental selections. In the UK 79% of British businesses do not have a mobile optimised website or app, the ones that do are making hay while the sunshines. Businesses that have a site that is optimised for mobile, combined with keyword marketing that includes the word mobile (eg for cheap holidays click from your mobile) are demonstrating huge increases in click through rates from mobile devices.
Even if you don't trade online but you operate a consumer focussed business, mobile is validating the use of local search, with 1 in 3 mobile searches including a geographically specific keyword. Google is clearly prioritising it's index to local results and now with mobile being used in location, all businesses should have their local area covered, your traffic can only increase.
If you are a business of any kind, you simply cannot ignore the importance of mobile. We all have one, it rarely leaves our side and we spend billions each year in the market. In 2010 in the US alone, $1billion was spent on mobile accessories, $15billion was spent in app stores and a predicted $119billion will be spent on mobile commerce in 2015. Europe is still developing, but as usual we won't be too far behind this consumer driven revolution.
There is still time to not be left behind, don't ignore the mobile revolution.
Various sources were used in the production of this article including Comscore, Mobilesquared.co.uk and Google.
Ascensor are a web design leeds agency, we develop online marketing strategies that include mobile application development and software.
Andrew J Firth