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  Comments (4) Total Sunday Apr. 20, 2014
 
Why The Tourist Drove Past Your Business
Commentary: Business is Personal
You've probably seen this AP image contrasting the crowds at St. Peter's in Rome over the last eight years.

2005 vs 2013 mobile phone use

Note: Print readers, see the image at http://www.flatheadbeacon.com/images/uploads/Changes2005vs2013-294x300.png

The first photo was taken by Luca Bruno in 2005 during preparations for the public viewing of Pope John Paul II's body - almost two years before the iPhone was first announced.

The second photo was taken by Michael Sohn in March 2013 as the crowd waited for the first balcony appearance of a newly-elected Pope Francis I.

No matter how you feel about smartphones, the mobile browsing experience, the quality of smartphone photos, the always-connected lifestyle and how these things relate to your personal life, ignoring the business impact of the widespread adoption of these devices is done at your peril.

So what?
Seems like just yesterday that I did a series of speaking gigs with groups of local business owners about social media, getting found via local web search, the growth of mobile and the impact of these things on local businesses. Fact is, it's been closer to 18 months since that series concluded.

To their credit, some have picked up on what we talked about and are interacting with their prospects and clients via social media. At least one local business that I frequent offers occasional coupons for subscribers to their text message (SMS) based opt-in list.

While most local business sites display acceptably on today's tablets, the story is altogether different on a phone, where a smaller number have made efforts to improve the experience of a website visitor using a phone. Let's refresh why it's important.

First impressions
Again, you must set aside your personal likes/dislikes about these devices because it isn't about you. It's about your customers.

If these customers are tourists whose first impression - and purchase decision - is tied to the usability of your site on their phone, it's worth considering whether your site is helping them (and you).

You might be thinking "Well, they have smartphones, but do they use them for that?" It's a good question. I can tell you 25% of visitors to the Columbia Falls' Chamber website are using mobile devices - a number that grows every month. I've been told churches see an even larger percentage of mobile users.

So what do you do?

A mobile website checklist
Let's talk about mobile website basics:

  • Do you have a website that is actually usable on a phone?

  • Does it clearly describe what you do, when you are open, how to get there (using Google Maps, et al) and how to contact your business?

  • Restaurants, is your menu visible on the phone or does it appear on a phone as tiny print because it's in a PDF intended for desktop users?


To start this process, claim your business on Google Places for Business and setup a Facebook Page (not a Facebook user account) for your business. Both of these will give you a basic summary presence on mobile devices that includes hours, contact info and location.

Compare these two mobile search results:







search result without google placessearch result with google places


Note: Print readers, see http://www.flatheadbeacon.com/images/uploads/beaconpic.png and http://www.flatheadbeacon.com/images/uploads/dmbdgoogle.png.

The one on the left (without a Google Places listing) is tougher to read on a phone and requires additional screen taps to get answers to the basic questions listed above.

The one on the right (with a Google Places listing) gives you everything you need to make the next choice. One tap to call, get directions or view their site.

Which of those do you want your prospects to see?

Why'd they drive by?
When your website makes it easy for mobile phone users to learn about your business, it helps them decide what to do, where and when to go, and how well your business fits their needs/wants.

So why did the tourist drive past your business?

Three reasons:

  • They didn't know your business exists, or they didn't know enough about your business

  • The info they found didn't help them make a decision.

  • The info they found helped them make a decision to go elsewhere.


The last reason is acceptable. You shouldn't expect everyone to be your customer, much less to stop in simply because your business is easy to learn about and find online.

Want to learn more about Mark or ask him to write about a strategic, operations or marketing problem? See Mark's site, contact him on Twitter, or email him at mriffey@flatheadbeacon.com.
 
On 04-10-13, Gators commented....
I say Whitefish and Bigfork are the places that seem to get it right.  Business people are friendly and want my business.  One place to eat that rocks is Pocketstone.  Thanks for all you do.
 
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