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.

 

“It’s a Wonderful Web” 2013!

cb-ipadThe first edition of our “It’s a Wonderful Web” e-newsletter for 2013 is out. It includes the following articles:

  • 2013: The Year of Anything is Possible
  • Special Offers!
  • Free 1-Hour Audio: Web Radio Interview
  • Luscious Links

If you’re not already a subscriber, click here to read it online.

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 “Wonderful Web” ENews: “New is New Again”

The new edition of our “It’s a Wonderful Web” enewsletter is out. It includes the follow short stories:

  • It’s All About YOU (including Paul Simon quote)
  • New Marketing in Another New Era
  • Whipping Up Lower Cost Websites (fresh offer)
  • Make Your Marketing More Effective
  • New Custom-Designed Client WordPress Websites
  • Is Your WordPress Website Safe? (new services)
  • New News About NewMarU (update on our educational site)
  • Luscious Links: More Useful Info, Just a Click Away (valuable!)
  • Quick Hits: About the New Enews Format

If you’re not already a subscriber, you can read it online by clicking this link.

New Custom-Design WordPress Website | Conscious Order

We love delighted clients almost as much as we love delightful clients. Annie Rohrbach—whose new book, Conscious Order: Clear Your Mind, Leave Clutter Behind has just been published—qualifies as both delighted and delightful.

ComBridges created an uncluttered design (no surprise there) and implemented the website in WordPress including her new blog and our usual array of WordPress plugins (a.k.a. the “ComBridges Custom Cocktail”) that will enable our Internet marketing services that are to follow as well as other functionalities.Conscious Order, Annie Rohrbach's new website

Part of ComBridges’ creative services also included production of an audio Guided Visualization that is offered free when web

site visitors subscribe to Conscious Order’s new email newsletter.

We were pleased to have collaborated on this project with Leslie Keenan’s Printed Voice publishing company.

Please visit http://www.consciousorder.com to check out our latest website design project and to learn more about Annie’s new book.

I’m sure we all could use some help with decluttering. I know that I could! 😉

Entry Level WordPress Website, Another Web Design Success Story

It’s obviously a good thing that ComBridges is known for high quality web design. But sometimes it can get in our way because people think that they can’t afford us.

However, we do have a streamlined “Entry Level” WordPress website design package. And, it was this offering that has led to our latest web design client success story, Six Palms Media, Inc. Within the scope of this package, we did a quickie logo design that took their first draft logo to a whole new level; and we used a customized version of a WordPress theme to give Six Palms a solid, professional look that they are proud of.

Better than anything else we can say, I think Six Palms Media’s president, Peter Goodman tells his website saga best:

“Jon Leland at ComBridges is my Internet hero. After two web designers who either couldn’t deliver what they promised or went bankrupt halfway through building my site, I found ComBridges. Right away I knew I was dealing with a seasoned professional who not only understood my needs from a design standpoint, but is a web marketing guru as well. Jon built me a great site in no time and is using cutting edge marketing tools to make sure it’s seen. It’s so nice to deal with a grown up in an industry plagued by hacks, incompetence and do-it-yourself debacles. Bravo for a job well done. I look forward to benefiting from your expertise in the future.”

If you’d like to learn more about our Entry Level websites or any of our other offerings, we’d love to talk!  Please contact us here.

We just love happy clients 😉

Just Published: New E-Newsletter & New NewMarU Webinars Start 3/18/11

Just a quick update, in case you missed any of this new stuff…

We’ve just published the March, 2011 edition of the ComBridges “It’s a Wonderful Web” enewsletter which includes Internet marketing insights focused on the importance of authenticity, updates on the new webinars at NewMarU.com, my upcoming keynote adventure to New Zealand, ideas & suggestions for WordPress enhancements & maintenance, the latest on Facebook marketing, and more.

ComBridges It's a Wonderful Web enewsletterClick here to read “It’s a Wonderful Web” on the Web…

And speaking of NewMarU, we start tomorrow, March 18th at 11am PT with our latest installment of webinars on Internet marketing and online PR. There’s a lot more coming soon too.

Please click here to visit the NewMarU courses page to check out our latest online programs…

Thanks in advance for your interest and I look forward to hearing from you. I hope you can join us at NewMarU and please share this information with your friends and colleagues if you are so moved. Thanks!

NewMarU is Live. Off to Hong Kong!

A couple of quick pieces of news:

1. We’ve just launched the ‘beta’ site for our exciting new venture, NewMarU.com, New Marketing University. Please check it out.

2. I’m on a plane this AM to Hong Kong to speak at “Web 3.0 Asia”

Details about both are in our last “Wonderful Web” enewsletter.

Catch ya on the flipside. 😉

New Wonderful Web E-Newsletter Covers WordPress, Video & Groovie Links

Our latest “It’s a Wonderful Web” e-newletter is out and available for your perusal. It includes:

  • An overview of our latest learning experiences regarding WordPress security and how you can protect your WordPress website
  • Our latest video production success, a “book trailer” for an important new client book, “Dry Run: Preventing the Next Urban Water Crisis”
  • Linky goodness called “ComBridges Connections” with an assortment of valuable links, insights and my latest video commentary on the “cord-cutting” that is making major waves and big changes to the cable TV industry, thanks to online video’s continued explosion.

Please click here to read the latest edition of “It’s a Wonderful Web: News & Views You Can Use.”

Are you a subscriber? If you’d like to be one, the subscription box is in the right column of this page –>>

Or, to read and/or sample past issues, you can access our e-newsletter archive by clicking here.

Thanks!

Jon

Am I Your Go-To Guy? (a self-awakening)

One advantage of having a coach who is also a client is that her testimonials not only flatter me, they make me think.

Here’s what Christy Strauch, author of Passion, Plan, Profit: Twelve Simple Steps to Convert Your Passion into a Solid Business, said about me and my work:

I think Jon knows better than anyone how to help businesses use the Internet as a powerful marketing tool. Wherever you are in the process of developing your Internet presence, Jon can tell you exactly what you should do next. He will enable you to take advantage of the latest (sometimes bewildering) array of tools, from blogs to Twitter, from Facebook and LinkedIn to YouTube videos. From my experience, Jon is the guy to call if you want to market your business more effectively; and, as a bonus, because of his openness, you will learn from a real visionary every step of the way.

What stopped me in my tracks about this statement was the “Jon knows better than anyone.” It’s a strong statement, and when it came on the heels of another flattering statement by another client, Rick Weinstein of Life Insurance Services for Charitable Giving, I had to self-reflect further:

The go-to point player for the Cleveland Cavs is LeBron James. Simply stated, Jon Leland is the go-to player if you are a profit-seeking entrepreneur who wants to leverage the power of e-commerce. Better yet, Jon is a people’s person. He’s no nonsense and a master communicator. I view Jon as a life-long partner, not a vendor; and I am pleased to wholeheartedly recommend him.

LeBron James! Yikes. I was humbled and inspired at the same time. And, I’m not just tooting my own horn because together these quotes added up to a personal wake up call. Thanks to my willingness to listen to my clients, I realized that I have not been positioning myself well given the levels of my expertise and experience.

I honestly know that I am able to be that “go-to guy.” I am so much more than just a website designer/developer. I am someone who can tell virtually any client of any size company what they should be doing next with regard to their web presence and their internet marketing. But, unfortunately, up to now (at least recently), that is not how I’ve been telling my story. Hello? Mr. Leland calling Mr. Leland. Wake up!

So, yes, we do websites, but I also want you to know that these days we’ve evolved ourselves into WordPress experts. As a result, we offer a carefully evolved approach to using WordPress as a CMS (content management system). We’re calling this custom “cocktail” of plug-ins and configurations, “We Do WordPress Right!” But most people, even some of our clients, don’t know that yet.

Furthermore, we have initiated a brand new set of internet marketing packages which include support for blogging and social media marketing. (Please contact us to receive a confidential copy of these offerings and get the “go-to guy” on your virtual team. 😎 )

I’m done with just being a website designer who also does internet marketing. It’s time for me to re-own my expertise as someone who has honestly been on the cutting edge of new media all the way back to the early ’70’s—before the term “new media” was invented—when founding a narrowcast radio network was “new media.” (Read more about the other new media/new marketing innovations I’ve been involved with for literally decades in my online bio.)

I hope my “self-awakening” is inspiring to you as well. Have you been under-selling yourself? What story should you be telling about yourself that you have not been telling?

And, of course, if I can be your “go-to guy” that helps you build a truly successful web presence, I’d be delighted.

My apologies for the shameless self-promotion, but I needed to say this “out loud.” Thanks for listening.