Mobile Apps and Mobile-Friendly Websites for Business: 
The Next Big Thing in Internet Marketing?

Shortly after Internet accessibility via mobile phones started to take off, marketers started to encourage businesses to build mobile versions of their websites. But there is always a gap between innovations and those who follow up in order to take advantage of the latest technologies.

mobile-friendly website with responsive WordPress theme

ComBridges’ new mobile-friendly website design uses a responsive WordPress theme

But, now that there is a meaningful volume of web visitors checking out every website (yes, even yours!) via mobile devices, spanning this gap is becoming more of a requirement. And yet, there are still a very significant number of businesses who don’t have mobile-friendly websites. The really bad news, particularly for those who are falling behind, is that the gap is widening between those who are meeting the demand for mobile-friendly web communications and those who are not. The good news is that there are a new generation of business communication tools arising in the form of apps and new kinds of websites that make meeting this need increasingly accessible. Illuminating these trends with specific examples is the purpose of this blog post.

The Mobile Web is Exploding

These changes are unquestionably dramatic. While the Web was born on desktop computers, it is obviously no longer simply a desktop medium. By May 2012, fully one tenth of the world’s web traffic was arriving on your digital doorstep via mobile phones and tablets. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. It’s the “developing” world that is truly leading the charge. In those countries where cell phones have long outnumbered landlines, more than one-half of web use is now coming via mobile devices. This demand for mobile delivery is now forcing the issue and providing further fuel for the shift in how websites are designed. In this environment, for a company to ignore the need for the mobile-friendly delivery of its Web content not only limits that company’s engagement opportunities because they are essentially “dissing” a significant segment of their audience. In the US alone, mobile is now estimated to be about 15% of web traffic. Bottom line, this form of resistance to change (or upgrades) will also exclude that company from a significant component of how the next billion people will get online.

Chinese woman with iPad

Photo by Robert May, April, 2013

Not Your Father’s Website Design

Web development for the mobile age itself is advancing quickly. One of the latest innovations is called responsive website designs. Because responsive designs automatically adjust their layout to suit the device being used, they offer a relatively simple solution that can eliminate the complexity of having to create a separate mobile-friendly version of your website. But this means that those—like my company recently—must invest in a redesign in order to keep pace with the mobile revolution. But that’s not all. The pace of change does not slow down. It accelerates.

Span the Gap with an App

Now, at least for marketers who are committed to the leading edge of engagement with social media savvy users who love their mobile devices, a responsive design may not be enough. Mobile apps are yet another important innovation because they combine the emergence of ever-expanding Web access via mobile devices with the ability to communicate directly, in a native form (i.e. within the mobile medium) via customized business-specific functionalities from Facebook feeds, to special offers, to location-based components.

A recent article by SmartMediaTips on mobile statistics points out that over 50% of an individual’s time spent on a smartphone is spent using apps. In 2011, smartphone users downloaded 17.7 billion apps, and this number is expected to increase to 108 billion by 2015. As a result, more than 300,000 apps were developed in the last 3 years. In a sense, apps are the new websites (just like “60 is the new 40.”)

The good news is that some newly developed Web-based SaaS (software as service) resources are make building basic apps far more accessible and affordable than previously imagined. The result is a new trend in mobile marketing: the development of business apps that can be used by companies of virtually any size. Of course, many large, enterprise-level businesses have already jumped on the app bandwagon, including banks, Starbucks, Google, and even Walmart’s new checkout app. Now, there are mobile apps for the rest of us.

Mobile Apps vs. Mobile Websites

A business mobile app means that your website can be programmed to offer mobile users an interface for your website and social media content that is all the more friendly, not only with a vertical layout that fits a smartphone screen, but with an interface that features icons (rather than web-style text links) that are also a natural for the touch of a screen. Thus, an app offers more than a responsive website design. An app gives your business a mobile presence that can put local or social media interactivity in a more prominent position. In particular, an app allows your loyal customers and followers to retrieve content, like audio podcasts or video commentaries for example, that are more conveniently accessed while on the move. Likewise, Facebook posts and tweets, which are commonly accessed via mobile, can become part of your business app’s featured content.

One logical strategy is use the app to make your social media marketing and content marketing outreach more accessible. For example, when individuals are standing in line at the bank or at the grocery store, with an app at their fingertips, they will much more easily be able browse through your Facebook posts. In fact, they are certainly more likely to visit your Facebook Page while on your app rather than from Facebook’s own app where they are far more than likely to be distracted by their family’s photos, etc.

Likewise, if you host a contest, offer a coupon or some other form of promotion, those who get involved with your app can much more quickly check contest updates from an app and receive automated notifications (with permission of course). The app makes waiting for your responsive website to load, asking the user to find the contest page, then wait for that page to load, etc. seem prosaic. An app simply makes any interaction with your web content immediately available with a simple touch of an icon, rather than forcing a web page and more complex navigation through the smaller screen.

Learning from Experience

Small Business mobile app example

ComBridges’ Facebook Feed in our test mobile app

By way of example, as a boutique web design and marketing agency, our company, ComBridges used to have a mobile-friendly version of our website that was visible via smartphones. This was developed using a WordPress plug-in called WPTouch Pro. Recently, we have redesigned and relaunched our own site with a responsive WordPress theme.

What opens up the opportunity for a small business like ours (and so many others) to have its own app is online software services like Conduit.com’s Mobile. While these apps do require a small, additional monthly hosting fee, they are easy for developers like us to implement. So much so that some do-it-yourselfer small businesses could even build apps on their own. It’s a work in progress, but if you have a smartphone, you can preview our first generation mobile app via any mobile device at combridges.conduitapps.com.

You will notice that what you see on our app looks very different than what you see on our website. It’s designed for mobile interaction. In fact, thanks to Conduit, much of the content is automatically derived from our Facebook Page, Twitter feed and more. As you can see, many of our social media pages are featured along with easy options for contacting us, including click to call functionality.

Greeting the Mobile Future

According to Morgan Stanley, 91% of individuals who own smart phones keep their phone within reach 24/7. And 5.1 billion of the 7 billion people on earth own a mobile phone. With these numbers in mind, why wouldn’t every business want to make it easier for their customers, blog readers, Twitter or Facebook followers to engage with them via a mobile app?

Another benefit is that if you develop your business app now, before the gap widens further, you may well be seen as an innovator. At the very least, you will prove yourself smart enough to get an early jump on the next wave of mobile marketing strategies, rather than letting the gap widen between you and your competitors, as well as between you and your customers.


Jon Leland is author of “Internet Marketing: 8 Key Concepts that Every Business MUST Know” and is the president of the boutique web design, video and Internet marketing agency, ComBridges.com. He was assisted in this article by Tara Hornor who also writes for PrintPlace.com, an online printing company.

 

Just Announced: My New Online Course on Internet Marketing

I’m thrilled to announce a brand new online course as part of our NewMarU.com start up:

Start with a Solid Foundation: 
Building on the 8 Key Concepts of Sustainable Online Marketing

There will be four one-hour state-of-the-art online sessions, all within a two week period. Here’s the dates

  • Tuesday Nov. 6th
  • Thursday Nov. 8th
  • Tuesday, Nov. 13th
  • Friday, Nov. 16th

All at Noon PT, 3pm ET (9am next day in NZ)

Helping people to do Internet marketing right is why I wrote my new book, Internet Marketing: 8 Key Concepts Every Business MUST Know.

NOTE: This will be a small group. There will be time for you to get your questions answered personally, and I will also give you direct feedback on your progress and step-by-step accomplishments as you grow your own online presence.

Each one-hour sessions will have a specific area of focus:

  • Session 1: Know Your Fundamentals
  • Session 2: Choose Your Building Blocks
  • Session 3: Be Your Best By Using Best Practices
  • Session 4: Marketing Fueled by Your Own Sustainable Energy

Please click here to learn more! And please let me know if you have any questions whatsoever. I’d love to see you there.

Wishing you every success,

Jon

Latest Review of Our New Internet Marketing Book is Awesome

We are thrilled with this new review on BlogCritic.org of Jon’s new book, Internet Marketing: 8 Key Concepts Every Business MUST Know.” Among other clear and articulate nuggets, Tara Hornor says:

“The author, Jon Leland lays out a systematic approach to marketing that both encompasses a strategic vision for authenticity married with practical, functional tactics.”

Internet Marketing is a short read at about 85 pages, but you’ll find that every page is packed with powerful information. It’s a distilled version that could be hundreds of pages if Leland wanted to fill the book with fluff. Instead, he provides a very refined and focused piece that is brimming with uniquely centered and balanced approaches to both big picture strategy and down-to-earth tactics for Internet marketing.”

We are grateful. She got it! 🙂

Read the full book review

Learn more about the book

Order Now from Amazon in Paperback or Kindle Edition

Radio Interview: Listen Now to Better Understand the New Marketing Landscape

I was delighted to be interviewed by my friends at the Hoffman Institute Foundation on their Hoffman Connection Internet radio program hosted by VoiceAmerica. It was fortuitous and synchronistic that the interview was scheduled (as it turns out) on September 11th, just one day after my new book, “Internet Marketing: 8 Key Concepts Every Business MUST Know” went live on Amazon (and on what would have been my mother’s 99th birthday.)

The energy was sparkling, it seemed to me, over the course of this hour-long program. With interviewers Hoffman Institute co-founder, Raz Ingrasci, and Hoffman teacher and psychotherapist, Ed McClune, we explored some of the main ideas in my “8 Concepts” including the role of authenticity in marketing (not an oxymoron), the different types of Internet marketing (SEO, PPC and social media), what makes New Marketing different from Old Marketing, how I decided to self-publish the book, and much more.

I hope you enjoy this free audio program and I sincerely look forward to your feedback. Thanks for listening!

Just click below to listen now, and feel free to use the share link as well! 😉

New Internet Marketing Book is Out + Radio Interview Tomorrow/Tuesday

New Book: Your Primer on Internet Marketing
This is a special day. My new book, “Internet Marketing: 8 Key Concepts Every Business MUST Know,” which has been in the works literally for years, is available as of TODAY on Amazon.com, in both a Kindle and a full-color print editions:

Kindle   +   Full-Color Print
 

The back cover reads:

Welcome to the most practical and concise introduction to Internet marketing available.

This book’s top-level conceptual overview opens a whole new world of online opportunities for both those who are just getting started as well as those who may be struggling to find traction. After clarifying the inefficiencies of Old Marketing, “Internet Marketing: 8 Key Concepts Every Business MUST Know” illuminates the fundamentals of New Marketing with clarity, the author’s palpable enthusiasm and even a bit of humor.

Enjoy the ride. The toothpaste is not going back into the tube. New Marketing is here to stay and because it will continue to evolve rapidly, the sooner you get involved the better.

Internet Radio Interview on Tuesday (and On-Demand)
To kick off the book launch, I’m psyched about being on the Hoffman Institute’s Internet radio show this Tuesday at 4pm PT. We’ll talk about my new book, “Internet Marketing: 8 Key Concepts Every Business MUST Know,” authenticity in marketing (not an oxymoron), and give away free copies of the book.

What Everyone Should Know About Their Online Presence Radio Webcast
Date & Time: September 11, 2012, 4:00pm PT
Where: via webcast at http://www.hoffmaninstitute.org/radio-show/ (click this link to listen anytime via their archives)
Guest: Jon Leland
Interviewers: Raz Ingrasci & Ed McClune
Program Description: In this age of social media and connectivity, you may be wondering just what exactly your image looks like in cyberspace. And if you are, it is a critical question to ask. This week on the Hoffman Connection find out everything you’ve ever wanted to know and SHOULD know about your online presence. Jon Leland, Social Media and Marketing guru joins us to share tips, facts and the latest need-to-know information on how to put yourself out there!

Hope you can join us.

If you have a blog and would like a guest post excerpt from the book, or would like to do your own interview, please let me know!

Social Media Goes Visual: Why Pinterest is More Than You Think

NextGen Social Media

Pinterest is much more than the latest and greatest “hot” new social network. Because of it’s visual nature, I believe that this upstart social network reflects the next generation of socially networked communication. In the current and coming stages of the evolution of the Web’s social revolution, the written word is no longer sufficient.

In case you haven’t tried it yet, Pinterest is essentially an online vision board. It lets people “pin” images that they find inspiring, useful or beautiful and then share their collections of images—called “Boards”—with others. When people “re-pin” the images, they are essentially “retweeting” or sharing visual communications in a state-of-the-art social media style.

This naturally compliments the ways that video and photo sharing have become majorly important. In fact, the array of visual communication innovation that we are seeing right now is indicative of the dawn of a new age. The web has quickly become a more dynamic visual medium. Text and hyperlinks were a foundation, but only a beginning. And we are still in the early stages.

Let’s Get Visual!

This trend isn’t new, but it does make a big difference. For example, Facebook power users know that when you share pictures, not just text updates, it fuels increased engagement in a big way. In other words, you get more “Likes” and comments when there’s a visual component to what you post.

Elsewhere, Tumblr has extended the Twitter-powered popularity of micro-blogging in a much more visual direction, and the popularity of using Instagram to share and talk about photographs is also surging (and is poised for major new expansion when the Android version of the Instagram app is released soon). ReadWriteWeb even reminds us that it is this mobile-phone-powered digital photography trend that slew the former photo corporate dragon: Death by Smartphone: How Mobile Photography Helped Kill Kodak.”

And then there’s YouTube which recently announced that 24 hours of video is uploaded to their site every twenty-four seconds. The video visual media explosion is so dramatic that YouTube itself produced this quick little 45-second video in an attempt to make its mind-boggling growth comprehendible:

If doesn’t clarify this explosion for you, Time Magazine recently ran an article, The Beast with a Billion Eyes, which characterizes YouTube as “the most rapidly growing force in human history.”

Blogger/consultant/author Jay Baer  says: 

“This is the year that photos challenge writing as the lingua franca of the social webIf you’re not taking and posting pictures to dedicated photo networks and cross-posting (when appropriate) to Twitter and Facebook, you’re missing out on a huge opportunity to grow your network and see the world through the eyes (or cell phone cameras) of thousands of new friends.”

The fact that the verb “pinning” has been showing up in conversations that aren’t even specific to Pinterest is a huge testament to the fact that people are captivated. If you think about how many times a day the verb to “google” is used to mean “search,” you can see that we’re on to something.

Why Is This Important for Business?

According to the Wall Street Journal, traffic to the Pinterest website has grown tenfold over the past six months. In January, the number of visitors on Pinterest was already almost a third of that on Twitter.

But Pinterest’s impact of web traffic may be even greater than Twitter’s. Based on a recent study conducted by Sharaholic, Pinterest drove more referral traffic to sites in January than Google+ (with 100 million users!), Reddit, YouTube, LinkedIn and MySpace all combined. Those are big-time numbers for the new kid on the block.

But, is there really room for another player in the social media VIP room? New York Times technology columnist David Pogue in his review, A Scrapbook on the Web Catches Fire, gives three good reasons why there definitely is:

  1. It’s clean. No ads, no pop ups, no blinking anything. It’s a pure and relatively simple rest for the eyes.
  2. It’s personal. Broadcasting isn’t the focus, rather your own interests take center stage in an authentic way.
  3. It’s humble. Pinterest Boards are about beauty, inspiration, information, passion, not self-absorbtion. It’s not, “Look at how great I am!” It’s, “Isn’t this GREAT!”

The blogger Beth Hayden sums it up well when she says Pinterest can  “…start making your social media strategy more beautiful, one little pin at a time.” When you add to this the fact that the early research seems to show that it will also make your social media marketing more engaging; and, when done appropriately, it will also help connect you to your constituencies at a deeper level: What’s not to like?

——

Our Other Pinterest Post:

Luscious Links to Unlock Pinterest: Free Resources Show How to Pin Your Marketing

Social Media Makes the Old New Again: “If You Don’t Have Something Good to Say…”

A recent viewing of a Yahoo! video of Seth Godin reminded me that the social media “sea change” is much more than an incremental shift. It is literally a game changer. (FYI, this was also the subject of my latest TheTVNews.tv video commentary.)

It’s no wonder that so many people are either being diverted by “get rich quick” scam artists or trying to stuff social media strategies into some kind of  “same-ole-media box.”

In order to make sure that your social media marketing time is well spent, here are some provocative questions inspired by some respectable authorities that I hope will help you approach your social media marketing in a meaningful, satisfying and successful manner. After all, A Billion Dollars Isn’t Cool. You Know What’s Cool? Basic Human Decency :

  1. What’s the Difference between the Engagement Game and Actually Being Engaging?
    The Difference Between Engaged and Engaging” — a blog post by Danny Brown
  2. Why are Facebook “Fans” and YouTube Video Views a Meaningless Statistic?
    AdAge: “Sorry, but Counting Facebook ‘Fans’ or Video Views Won’t Help Your Brand
  3. What’s Wrong with Us? Are We Lazy or What?
    Social Media Fatique” — a blog post by Chris Brogan

Creating meaningful social media means moving beyond this “Social Media Fatigue.” And, it’s not going to happen unless we, as Brogan says, take the opportunity “to make something interesting and worthwhile, to be helpful, to empower others, to encourage and inspire others.” (In an earlier blog post, I called this “Leading with Value.”)

As our grandmothers used to say, “If you don’t have something GOOD to say, don’t say anything at all.”

Bottom line, real relationship building—which is what social media marketing is (or should be) all about—comes down to communicating your “basic human decency.” Now that’s “really cool.”

The Fast-Track Intro to Internet Marketing | Free Webinar Tues 1/18/11

For those of us who more or less “live” online, it’s kind of amazing how many businesses and entrepreneurs are still struggling to understand and benefit from the amazing power of Internet marketing. If this is you, now there is a great way for you get up to speed, for free!

Jon has given his one-hour workshop, “What Every Business Should Know About Internet Marketing” in locations from Kona, Hawaii to Silicon Valley (as you can see in the video clip on Jon’s keynote speaker web page). Now, as just one of the benefits of registering for the free level of New Marketing University, NewMarU.com, this information-packed hour is being offered FREE via the Internet and phone conference lines on Tuesday, January 18th at 10:00AM PT / 1:00PM ET. Click here to register now >>

This useful and informative webinar includes a complete overview of the three main areas of Internet marketing, including:

  • The “Super Market-Trends” that have radically leveled the marketing playing fieldJon Leland at Web 3.0 Asia in Hong Kong
  • The two essential strategies upon which all successful internet marketing campaigns are based
  • The three main types of internet marketing: search engine optimization (SEO), pay-per-click search engine advertising (PPC) and social media marketing (SMM)
  • A comparative analysis of the time requirements for implementation, the kinds and quality of results, and the cost-per-lead that is derived from each main category
  • Valuable tips, tricks and resources that are based on real world experience

Why are we producing this event for free?

  • Jon LOVES to share information and people love learning this material. It’s important!
  • It helps to expose the expertise that makes ComBridges such a valuable marketing partner.
  • This is a “free sample” of things to come. We are working on a new educational website to be called “New Marketing University” that will have many more programs. We hope you’ll like this program enough to become interested in more. To learn more, please register now.

Mark your calendars for Tuesday, January 18th at 10:00AM PT / 1:00PM ET. We hope to see you there.

>> Please Click Here to Register Now <<
It takes just 30 seconds, really! And, even if you can’t make it live, by registering you will make sure that you get the link to the free recorded version.

Or view our 1-page PDF with the generic course description below . . .
What Every Business-Onesheet 03.25.10

Search Engine Ranking Factors Clearly Illuminated


For those of us who work (either for ourselves or for clients) is pursuit of organic or natural search engine rankings for targeted keyword phrases, there is a slew of information out there about both the on-page and off-page factors that contribute to these rankings (as I explain in my internet marketing ebook: “EBiz Express: What Every Business Should Know About Internet Marketing“).

I’m writing not only to make this shameless plug, but also to share a new resource that I just found that aggregates the opinions of an impressive selection of experts in order to indicate which of the various factors carry the most weight (according to these experts). As something of an expert myself, I found this interactive page to be informative and useful. Thus, I recommend to you:

SEOmoz’s Google Search Engine Ranking Factors V2

Enjoy.

The Digital Ad Biz Beginning to Sprout & the Seed of an Idea

We are way too early in this to be talking about blossoming, but the sprouts or seeds that are the revolution of the advertising business going totally digital, totally accountable, totally targeted and totally interactive are HUGE!

I cover the basics in my internet marketing ebook, and today’s New York Times covered how Microsoft is trying to catch up with Google in this arena. This is a good article packed with perspective.

At one point, this NYT article emphasizes how advertising-supported free media is winning out over subscription models by pointing out that, “In recent days, two prominent news Web sites — The New York Times and The Financial Times — said they were scaling back attempts to charge subscription fees for some of their content.”

And then Microsoft CEO Steve Balmer says, “As much as people sometimes like to pick bones with advertising, people much prefer an ad-funded experience to one that they pay for.”

Hey, isn’t this the guy who runs a software company that sells more software (and software upgrades) than any other company on earth?

He continues: “Even the basic software that we’ve delivered for so many years — if it can be ad-funded in the way it gets delivered to consumers, it probably will be ad-funded.”

In other words, free ad-supported digital media will rule, and digital advertising will blossom into channels of humongous proportions… proportions that make Google as it exists today seem small.

Bottom line, they all agree that it’s ALL going digital and this will change everything. Personally, I’m interested in building an advertising “on-ramp” for small businesses… A web application platform that would guide small business users so that they could leverage the advantages of the new media & advertising world. This is seriously needed by millions of small companies.

Like I’ve been saying for years, we need communication bridges spanning the grand canyon gap between people and technology… Anyone want to play?