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Opportunity Knocks

[ 0 ] Apr. 4, 2011 | SBO Editor

U.S. businesses are neglecting the needs of consumers accessing websites from mobile devices, according to research released by 1&1 Internet Inc., www.1and1.com, a global leader amongst web hosts.  From a study of 818 small- to medium-sized companies, 50 per cent have never checked the appearance or functionality of their website for Smartphone users.

Of companies that have, 43 per cent admit their website has a reduced appearance as well as reduced functionality.   And, 57 per cent of businesses have not optimized their websites for mobile usage and have no plans to do so.  Despite widespread adoption of mobile browsing by Americans, the data reveals less than 1 in 3 SMBs recognize that their sales or brand could be enhanced with a more mobile-friendly website.  Many companies could be alienating mobile online consumers and risking their own growth.

US businesses have worked hard in recent years to create visibility for themselves on the Internet and adapt to the needs of the online consumer.  At the same time, there is clear evidence that more people are browsing the web on the go with devices such as the iPhone, BlackBerry or Android phone.

IDC, a global provider of market intelligence, predicts Smartphone shipments worldwide will jump by 55 per cent this year – 10 per cent more than projections it made earlier this year.  However, research from 1&1’s ‘SMB Mobile Website Audit’# finds that a worrying number of US firms may be at risk of losing the audience they worked hard to acquire as consumers now switch to browsing the Internet from a mobile device.  While only 60 per cent of small business owners have used a mobile device to surf the web in their private lives, half have not yet checked the appearance or functionality of their own business website using this method.

The smaller screen and touch functionality of mobile devices can often make it necessary to adapt the design of websites. Furthermore, a significantly higher number of operating systems and browsers have to be supported as compared to local hardware like PCs.  From companies that have examined their web presence from a mobile device, 43 per cent admit their website has both a reduced appearance and reduced functionality on a mobile device. Worryingly, only 12 per cent of firms were confident they have optimized their websites for mobile usage, while 57 per cent have no plans to do so.

Oliver Mauss, CEO 1&1 Internet Inc. said, “Many websites have not yet reached the Smartphone age.  As a result, small firms in particular can miss a massive opportunity.  Businesses must ensure that when their website is viewed on a mobile, it loads promptly, functions correctly and comprises an attractive and fitting representation of them.”

American business owners today place a low importance upon whether their website can be used comfortably from a mobile device.  Only the minority of owners (28 per cent) believe that a mobile-friendly website would positively impact sales revenue, 30 per cent recognize a link to brand enhancement and feel it could provide access to a broader range of customers.  56 per cent of owners agree that an optimized website could make a difference to the overall visibility of a business.  The figures suggest that complacency on the issue has the potential to place firms at risk of losing website visitors and failing to engage with consumers.

Thus, it is perhaps unsurprising that mobile-friendly website features are still not common place.  Remarkably, only 1 in 5 businesses have a location map on their website, or have location listings on popular search engines such as Google.  Some 17 per cent of companies were submitted within local business directories.  Only 4 per cent offer eCommerce functionality optimized for a mobile device.

Interestingly, the level of optimization for mobile devices varies on an international scale. Spanish business owners are most likely to have checked their website for mobile usage (58 per cent), while German companies are the least likely (31 per cent). French companies have made the most efforts to optimize the design of their websites (13 per cent). German companies were most apathetic to the issue, with 50 per cent foreseeing no potential benefit at all to their business – in stark contrast to UK firms, 23 per cent of which believe a mobile-friendly website could lead directly to enhanced brand value.

Mauss added, “On-the-go web access is a strong trend, one that can be used to every business’s advantage. Organizations of all sizes must ensure they are online whenever and wherever the consumer needs them.”

In order to help business website owners to benefit from the boom in mobile internet surfing, 1&1 currently offers professional Web design software which can be paired with its Web hosting packages.  Adobe Dreamweaver CS4 and NetObjects Fusion 1&1 Edition allow easy creation of a website optimized for mobile viewing.  Adobe Dreamweaver CS4 includes the Adobe Device Central module that enables testing for the latest mobile devices. In doing so, users can ensure their website is fully optimized for mobile visitors.   •

NEW RESEARCH FROM GLOBAL WEB HOST LEADER SAYS

• Half of US Businesses Fail to Check Their Own Website from a Mobile Device

• Two thirds of SMB owners use mobile Internet in personal lives.

• Only 1 in 5 companies believe a mobile-friendly website could boost sales revenue. (See the feature for more details.)

About 1&1 Internet Inc: 1&1 Internet Inc. is a subsidiary of United Internet, a profitable public company with a market cap of $3 billion. 1&1 was founded in 1988 and hosts more than 11 million domain names, while more than 70,000 servers run on the company’s five state-of-the-art green data centers. 1&1’s global community is approximately 9.5 million customer contracts strong. The company’s U.S. headquarters is located in Chesterbrook, PA. For more information, please contact the company at www.1and1.com or 1-877-GO-1AND1. They have a wide variety of services for a small biz.

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Category: Magazine, Small Business Opportunities, Small Business Opportunities July 2011