It’s not a secret that we are becoming a global community of smartphone worshipers. With increases in adoption year on year looking more and more like phone numbers, the mobile web is, without doubt, the new frontier for online business. And as with any new frontier, there will be those who understand the terrain and find riches and those who don’t … who find rocks.

Web adoption itself, back in the 1990s and early 2000s, was, without question, a phenomenon. Developers hurried out the latest and greatest, funds flowed, bubbles grew and investors got very rich, or very poor, very quickly. It was a time of rampant speculation about future consumer demands & behaviour which spawned the greats such as Amazon, Ebay & Google and spurned the not-so-greats – you might have to, er, Google boo &

So how do the current adoption rates of the mobile web compare? It is 8 TIMES FASTER. Yes, 8 times. And this isn’t just idle traffic either. Online consumers are no longer the wide-eyed Neanderthals most of us started out as, marvelling at moving images on our computer screens, they are now informed, impatient and nimble and the mobile web is rapidly becoming their new playground.

In a recent survey of mobile web users conducted by the Compuware Corporation; 71% said they expected websites to load as quickly on their mobile phones as their desktops with 74% only willing to wait five seconds or less for a page to load. 46% were unlikely to return to a website which they had trouble accessing via their phone and 34% said they’d likely visit a competitor’s mobile site instead.

The Front Runners

While the highly negative impact of an inadequate mobile presence has been demonstrated, for businesses that are doing it right, it seems there is a similarly dramatic, positive pay off. A recent study by web analytics solution, KISS Metrics, showed that a site optimised for mobiles is able to generate almost double the average traffic per user than sites which haven’t.

And it’s not just the user engagement numbers which are enhanced; the research suggested that, on average, visitors are 51% more likely to actually do business with an online retailer if it has a mobile site.

Given the compelling evidence on the benefits of mobile optimisation, why is it then that, the results of a study carried out by Magus in partnership with Investis, show that still only 20% of the UK’s largest corporations are currently providing support for mobile devices?

No time for hare and tortoise analogy

The apparent lack of endeavour by business to get mobile-ready seems less about lethargy and more about the following;

  • The sheer speed of growth of the mobile web has meant that even larger businesses with strong strategic focus and awareness of the opportunities are struggling to keep pace with a domain that is evolving so rapidly.
  • Businesses are having to re-educate themselves and take time evaluating how to best transfer the functionality and consumer experience they have painstakingly developed for their desktop sites, to the different priorities and requirements of their mobile visitors.

Where do we go from here?

As is commonly the case, businesses with foresight and gumption who adopt early will see the greatest benefits in the gold rush. With the current speed of changes taking place with the mobile web, it seems that even brand new enterprises, which enter the field fully understanding the mobile game, will likely enjoy huge rewards while recognisable heavyweights which don’t catch on quickly enough, might well see themselves disappearing out of view.

Go. Mobile. Now

Unlike the early days of web adoption where getting a company web presence was potentially time consuming and extremely costly, getting a website optimised for mobiles these days can be cheap and quick. With DIY services, a mobile site can be created from an existing website dynamically within minutes and then modified wherever required. While some businesses will want nothing less than an all-singing bespoke solution, the DIY approach can ensure an almost immediate branded mobile presence.

Keep mobile in mind – always

Web content is, even now, often created with a one-size-fits-all mentality. In order to properly engage the differing priorities and requirements of mobile customers, consideration must be given to creating stand-alone content which is mobile specific and tailored to those on the move.

Create your own mobile strategy

Marketing to mobile users is still a relatively new technology and therefore data remains scarce on its power and ROI but, with over 13% (and growing rapidly) of ALL UK web traffic now coming via mobile devices, it deserves serious consideration in any in-house strategy.

And if after all of this above you remain unconvinced, take it from someone who’s had his share of online success, Google CEO and Chairman of the Board Eric Schmidt who recently heralded “mobile first in everything” as the new rule at Google. Enough said.