It’s only in the past few months that I’ve started to take mobile websites seriously. The first time I realized the full potential of a “mobile-optimized website” was last year at the Wine Bloggers Conference in Virginia. They had their whole website optimized for mobile, something which I personally found particularly useful when is came time to check the seminar and guest speaker schedule. I just remember thinking: “Wow! This is so much easier to navigate!”
I have to preface this by saying that technology very rarely impresses me. Seriously. I’m a geek for the latest and greatest tech products and software, but since I was a kid I’ve never been impressed with the speed of progress we’ve been making. With that being stated, 2012 can go on record as begin the year when I changed my opinion on mobile websites from being: “nice to have” to being critical for the long-term success of wineries (and pretty-much EVERY business)! Hell, even the presidential nominees have started taking mobile seriously!
These are my top ten reasons, in no particular order, why wineries (and other businesses) NEED a mobile website:
#1 Your current website is NOT mobile-compatible
This may come as a big surprise, but mobile devices currently HATE your current website! Hate seems like a strong word, but they do. They hate it! The problem is that if your current website isn’t mobile optimized, it will be a complete NIGHTMARE for your mobile visitors to navigate, compared to one that is “mobile-friendly.”
I don’t know if you’ve ever viewed your website from someone else’s computer, but if you have, you’ll notice that it displays differently. I, for example, had to have a complete overhaul on this website when I realized that it displayed terribly on Internet Explorer. I found this out months after launching, because I always use Google Chrome, and I never noticed a problem until I viewed my website on someone else’s computer.
Because the screen on mobile devices is generally so much smaller, the aforementioned problem is only made worse, as users will constantly have to resize the screen, scroll around, and click into pages to find the info they’re looking for. The harsh reality is that if you are making your website visitors work to find your info e.g. email, phone number, address, etc., they will quickly get bored and go somewhere else.
#2 More consumers are purchasing mobile phones than desktop computers.
This should speak for itself, but it’s a fact which warrants a little further investigation.
Within the past few years, there’s been a huge shift in the way people access the Internet, in that handheld devices are seeing more use than ever. Wineries, even more-so if they have a tasting room attached, should pay particular attention to these statistics. The reason “brick and mortar” businesses should be extra concerned with their mobile presence, is that they’re the most heavily reliant on people walking into their actual business location. It’s therefore fair to say that they have the greatest number of users searching on mobile devices for their information i.e how to get there, hours of operation, contact phone number etc.
#3 Search engines have started indexing mobile websites.
This is HUGE, and was a real wakeup call for me when I read several articles stating that the major search engines have started indexing mobile separately from non-mobile sites. This is certainly going to continue in the future, only on a much deeper and involved scale.
Search is where it’s at, and if you disagree you need to wakeup!
A perfect example is just last week when I needed an electrician to come to our house after a lightening strike. I did the same thing most people do, and simply typed “electrician” into Google (on my cell phone, since the Internet had also been taken out by the lightening), and ran a search. The #1 and #2 results (which I clicked into first, again, as most people do), both had websites which were optimized for mobile. Now, is it just a coincidence that these websites appeared in the 1st and 2nd places on Google on my mobile device? Probably not! It’s already started happening!
The next major point is that if your business is running any type of Google Adwords advertising campaign, Google has started penalizing websites which send their users to non-mobile websites. This penalizing will come in the form of lower search rankings and also forcing users to pay more for each click.
#4 Wineries will be slow to embrace mobile technology.
Going back to my original point about the mobile website at the Wine Bloggers Conference; the fact that they had their website optimized for mobile spoke volumes to me! The one thing I have learnt over the past few years is that, when it comes to technology, wineries are behind the times. They shouldn’t feel bad though! My wife works in the jewelry industry and I don’t mind saying that they’re even further behind the times!
Wineries (and any other businesses) who start to take mobile websites seriously (at this early stage) will be yielding a serious competitive advantage, since I guarantee that it’s going to be at least a few years before other business start to catch-up!
I hear from wineries all the time who proclaim social media to be just a fad, and that they’re prepared to wait a few more years before “jumping on the bandwagon.” I have no-doubt they’ll probably take the same approach to mobile websites, but to blatantly ignore mobile is an extremely risky move!
The statistics have been reported (from numerous sources) that under 5% of businesses have their website optimized (in some way) for mobile. Whether businesses want to believe it or not, people are visiting your website every day from mobile devices. Just check your Google Analytics!
Sure you can wait a few more years to be absolutely sure that mobile is a “good fit” for you, but are you willing to lose customers between now and then because you didn’t take mobile seriously?
#5 People buy from mobile devices.
Just because you can’t remember the last time you made a purchase from your mobile device, doesn’t mean that it isn’t happening! According to research from mobile media firm JiWire, 79% of 5,000 people surveyed are fine paying online via their cell phones or tablets. They also, at least according to this particular piece of research, are still only spending fairly small amounts; but I have to admit that these amounts are still greater than I would have expected them to be!
Wineries have numerous opportunities to “sell” to people from their website, in the form of not just actual wine sales, but also email subscription signup and wine club membership. This is easy to achieve from a mobile website, but not so-much from your regular website when viewed on a mobile device.