Developing Mobile Marketing Websites

PDAs and most smartphones with full web access can promote your website or deliver content such as news, sports, blogs, video, and games. Users can use Wi-Fi or subscribe to a data plan from their cellular providers.

Some 40 million consumers now use some type of mobile device for web surfing; about one-quarter of them have paid for items by using their mobile phones, and 13 million have accessed retail sites. A mobile-friendly site that viewers reach is more likely to lead to conversion, so you must design your site in line with the ways that people use their smartphones.

Viewers can access mobile sites while watching TV, riding in a car (not while driving), or while shopping in a store. They can see TV commercials and determine where to buy products; conduct competitive research to ask a retailer to match another’s price; or search for and download coupons. Increasingly, users are interested in using their mobile phones to scan bar codes and purchase items to avoid long checkout lines.

Most websites designed for use on a full-size screen translate poorly to smaller smartphone or PDA screens. Graphics-heavy sites take too long to download, especially on 3G networks or slower; text-intensive sites are difficult to read; and sites with deep layers of content are often difficult to navigate. Creating a positive experience online, is one key to mobile success.

Having a .mobi top-level domain (TLD) name or mobile platform isn’t necessary in order to create a mobile site. However, purchasing a .mobi TLD (such as http://yourcompany.mobi) via your domain name registrar or using a mobile subdomain designation (such as http://m.yourcompany.com) is a visible cue to your users of your existence as a mobile maven.

Follow the best practices for mobile sites, established by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), to ensure your success.

Special third-party providers develop dot-mobi sites and can help you plan a wireless marketing campaign. The only limits are your imagination, your budget, and the presence of your target audience.

Unless you’re part of a large corporation or developing an app as a freestanding destination (a game specifically designed for mobile players, for example), you’re better off using a standard mobile platform that runs on all phones. Your programmer can also develop a mobile site by using a cascading style sheet; most phones automatically detect the appropriate version.

Keeping up with version changes for all competing mobile operating systems — such as Android (Google), BlackBerry (RIM), and the Apple iOS — is quite difficult. For most small businesses, the process of developing several custom phone apps for a website is time-consuming and expensive and probably not worth the effort.

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