Set your small business apart with a great mobile website experience.

Estimated Reading Time: 4 minutes

After reading this article, you will understand:

  • The difference between the terms mobile, mobile-friendly, and responsive
  • Why it’s important to have a good mobile experience for your customers
  • How you can give your business a competitive edge by improving your mobile presence

If you’re on the lookout for ways to find new customers and stand out from your competition, one often-untapped tactic to try is improving the way your business appears on mobile devices like tablets and smartphones. You’ve probably heard a lot in recent years about the rise of mobile. But in case you’re not clear on what that means for your business, let us break it down for you.

Scott MacNeill’s mobile-friendly website, built with Vistaprint Digital

Mobile, mobile-friendly, and responsive – what’s the difference?

When consumers began to widely adopt smartphones, marketers understood that websites needed to look different on those smaller screens, and with that the mobile website was born.

These mobile versions of existing desktop websites had larger buttons, simplified navigation menus, and layouts that suited smaller screens. While this led to a better experience for site visitors, it meant more work for the website owner who had to create and maintain two different sites.

While many website providers still offer separate mobile website builders, there’s a much more efficient way to provide your mobile audience with an ideal experience: responsive websites. A website that’s built with responsive templates will automatically resize certain elements and optimize its layout depending on the screen size it’s being viewed on. It’s the same website and the same URL, it just adjusts automatically to be mobile-friendly.

Just how important is mobile for small businesses?

You may be a small business owner, but you’re also a consumer. Think about your own mobile habits when trying to create a great experience for your customers. Chances are you open emails and click through to mobile websites, look for places to eat and shop on local search directories. You may even make certain assumptions about a business based on the way it appears in those mobile spaces.

And if so, you’re not alone. In fact, comScore found that consumers in the US spend 71% of their time online using a mobile device. That means that right now, lots of potential customers might find your website through a Google search, or look for reviews of your services on Yelp from a phone or tablet. If you haven’t already, now would be a great time to search for your business from a mobile device to see how you measure up.

How can a good mobile presence help you stand out?

One advantage of ensuring a great mobile experience for your customers is that it can help you stand out from competitors. Why? Well, there are lots of reasons:

  • Google values mobile. Google’s search engine algorithm (the way Google determines which websites show up first in searches) takes a website’s mobile-friendliness into account. Google (and other search engines) send “bots” out to crawl your website on both mobile and desktop, to determine if you’re providing a good experience all around. If so, Google will judge that your site is a good option to serve up to people searching for businesses like yours.
  • Your competitors may lag behind. Not all small businesses have a website in the first place, and even fewer have a website that’s mobile friendly. That’s good news for business owners like you, because it means you have an opportunity to really set yourself apart by offering a professional, user-friendly mobile presence.
  • Looks really do matter. In a study from Vistaprint last spring, 60% of small business shoppers said they would be not very, or not at all likely to visit or buy from a business with a poorly designed website. This demonstrates that having a professional appearance for your online presence (which includes showing up well on mobile devices) is not only good for your brand, it’s good for your bottom line.

What should you do next?

Now that you have some background about mobile websites and how having a good mobile presence can help distinguish your business, let’s talk about next steps. Use the list below as a checklist to help bring your business up to speed in the world of mobile:

  • Get a mobile-friendly website. If you’re just starting out, look for a website builder with responsive templates. If you already have a site, ask your provider if they offer mobile websites. If not, consider switching. It might sound like a lot of work, but it will be worth it in the end.
  • Submit your business to online directories. We know that people who search for local businesses are ready to buy, so make sure they can find yours. Start or claim your listings on Google, Yelp, and other directories.
  • Be active on at least one social media platform. You don’t have to be everywhere, but knowing how much time consumers spend with social media on their phones, you will want to make sure they can interact with you there too.

While creating a solid mobile presence for your small business might sound like yet another thing to add to an already-full plate, keep in mind that not all marketing activities are created equal – some (like mobile) can have a much greater payback than others. If you feel like you don’t have time to work on your mobile presence, it might be time to reshuffle your to-do list.

Spending a little time getting your mobile presence up to speed can help you appear higher in Google searches, allow local customers to find you when they’re ready to buy and create lasting relationships with your brand through social media. But perhaps most importantly, a modern mobile presence can really help your business stand out among your competitors.

Related articles

5 ways to make the most of your online storefront

Learn how to ensure you are translating the brand that passersby see from the street to your online presence.
Read more

8 merchandising tips for your website

A cornerstone to good merchandising is consistency. Find out what you can take from your website and apply to your store.
Read more