With the dawn of Google’s mobile friendly update, the decision of whether or not to have a mobile site is no longer an option.
Last month’s algorithm change has not yet have had an impact worthy of the nickname ‘Mobilegeddon’ – and it’s important to remember that mobile friendliness is just one of many variables that Google considers – but it’s clear that going forward, user-experience on mobile devices will have more & more impact.
We wanted to discover how consumers usage of mobile & mobile devices to find local businesses has changed. We ran a survey on this topic in 2013 and last month (April 2015) we pushed the same survey to 900 members of our US consumer panel.
We asked 7 questions related to their mobile browsing habits, preference for Apps vs Browser, what types of business they search for and what they expect from local business websites. Below are the full results with comparison to 2013 (where applicable).
How many times have you used a mobile / mobile device to find a local business in the last 12 months?
- 23% have not used a mobile device to search for a local business (vs. 39% in 2013)
- 70% have searched at multiple times in the last 12 months (vs. 54% in 2013)
- 38% have searched at least one time in a month (vs. 30% in 2013)
The standout stat is that drop in the number of users who have ‘Never’ used a mobile to find a local business. 23% said they never had compared to 39% in 2013. This 16% decrease shows that a lot more consumers are using their mobiles to find local businesses than in 2013.
In addition, more consumers are searching on their mobiles on a more regular basis. 38% have searched at least one time per month (weekly or daily), compared to 30% in 2013. And 70% have searched multiple times this year vs 54% in 2013
This greater adoption can be put down to a multitude of factors. Penetration of smart phones and our reliance on them is a huge factor. Also improvements in both apps & browsing experience have made the ‘discovery’ process easier & more akin to desktop search. To some extent the increase in small and medium businesses having mobile optimized websites has played its part in raising expectations.
In the SMB Internet Marketing Survey 2014, we learned that 66% of small & medium businesses do have a mobile optimized website, versus 59% in 2013.
The importance of having a fully mobile optimized site cannot be underestimated.
Which types of local business have you searched for on your mobile device?
- 58% have searched for a restaurant / cafe on a mobile device (vs. 31% in 2013)
- 32% have searched for a general shop on a mobile device (vs. 31% in 2013)
- 27% have searched for a doctor / dentist on a mobile device (vs. 15% in 2013)
As more consumers use mobile devices to search for local businesses, they also search for a wider range of businesses. In 2013, the most searched for local business on mobile was a pub / bar (32%), but in 2015, over half of all consumers have searched for a restaurant / cafe. It’s becoming far more commonplace.
The types of businesses most searched for on mobile are those that are most commonly used on a daily basis. Restaurants, general shops, doctors, dentists, clothes shops, pubs, bars & hair salons are businesses that offer immediate transactions & require little forward planning.
The local business types that are less searched for are those with lower frequency visits or which which require greater research before purchase. Accountants, attorneys, estate agents & driving schools are examples of businesses that are searched for less.
Which type of mobile service do you prefer to use when looking / searching for a local business?
- 50% prefer to use a mobile internet browser (vs. 44% in 2013)
- 40% prefer to use mobile maps (vs. 45% in 2013)
- 10% prefer to use mobile applications (vs. 11% in 2013)
More consumers (50%) prefer to use a mobile internet browser when searching for a local business online, and this has increased 6% in the last 2 years. Less consumers now prefer to use mobile maps or applications.
I found it interesting that usage of Local Apps was so low. There has been an explosion of local apps in the last 2 years with many high profile successes like Uber. Local-community apps like Yelp, Foursquare & Tripadvisor have invested heavily in their mobile apps and by all accounts succeeded in luring lots of their users to download them.
But still, 50% of those who look for business via a mobile device prefer to use a browser. Google has certainly worked hard to improve the browsing experience, but they’ve also enhanced the Google Maps app at the same time. Perhaps there is some inertia on behalf of consumers who rely on a browser on their desktop to gain access to local & maps results. Possibly they don’t want to limit their search to just Maps results and want a broader set of results to choose from.
What information is most important to you when you’re looking at a local business website on your mobile?
- 52% say that a physical address is the most important information
- 47% say map & driving directions
- 44% say opening hours
- 37% say a phone number
More than half of those searching for a local business on a mobile device consider the physical address to be the most important piece of information on the website. After that, consumers want to find map & driving instructions, the opening hours & a telephone number.
This highlights that mobile searchers are primarily interested in contacting a local business or visiting them. It also suggests that mobile users who reach a local business site have already made up their minds to use them (so don’t need the ‘hard sell’) and they just want to know how to get in touch. This chimes with the findings of a similar survey last year (by NeustarLocaleze) which found that a whopping 80% of searches on mobile result in a transaction.
In 2014 we did a similar survey to this, but we looked at what local consumers want most from a local business website on a desktop. We discovered that Product, Price, Place & Phone number were “the four P’s” for local business website success.
So when we compare Mobile vs Desktop we see that desktop-based users are hungry for more product detail & pricing information so they can evaluate a business, while mobile users are further down the purchase funnel and ready to buy.
Which factors are most likely to STOP you from using a local business when you’re viewing their website on your mobile?
- 38% of consumers are put off by having no map or address displayed
- 35% of consumers are put off by having no phone number displayed
- 29% of consumers are put off if the business isn’t local to them
Similar to the previous chart, we can see that consumers on a mobile device are looking for information that helps them contact a business. If these requirements are not met, then it is likely that the consumer will get frustrated & you could lose them.
Looking back again at our 2014 research into desktop usage, we see that for desktop searchers, having no phone number, price list and poor content are major ‘turnoffs’ for local customers.
Content is perhaps more important for desktop searchers, but still 28% of mobile browsers suggested it was a make-or-break feature. Make sure there’s quality content available on your website, but also ensure that mobile visitors can quickly find the contact & location information that they require.
Which of these statements about accessing local business websites from your mobile applies to you?
- 38% are impressed when a local business has a website designed for mobile (vs. 25% in 2013)
- 33% believe all local businesses should have websites designed for mobile (vs. 25% in 2013)
- 17% do not expect a local business to have a mobile friendly site (vs. 53% in 2013)
- 12% are put off using a local business if their site doesn’t work well on mobile (vs. 38% in 2013)
As more consumers use a mobile device to find a local business, so too their expectations grow. 33% of consumers believe that a local business site should be designed for mobile devices and a further 33% are impressed when they find a local site which is optimized.
Further evidence of this shift in expectations is the drop in numbers who ‘Don’t‘ expect a local business to have a mobile optimized site. In 2013, 54% of respondents said they didn’t expect a local business to have an optimized site vs. just 17% in 2015.
Interestingly (and a little contradictory), only 12% are put off from using a local business if their website doesn’t work well on mobile (vs. 38% in 2013), suggesting that even though consumers are more discerning about their mobile experience, they are perhaps not ready to dismiss every local business simply because it’s not mobile optimized.
Are you more likely to contact a local business if they have a mobile optimized site?
- 61% are more likely to contact a local business if they have a mobile optimized site
- 38% do not believe a mobile site is important for a local business
If a local business has a mobile optimized website then not only are they more likely to be found by mobile searchers (see ‘Mobilegeddon’), but they are more likely to convert those consumers that actually visit their site.
Google’s mobile update has ensured that in the long term, only those businesses which are ‘mobile friendly’ will get found in Google search results. But even direct visitors or consumers using alternative Search Engines will be more likely to contact that business if it is optimized for a mobile device.
Consumers no longer give a smaller local business a ‘free pass’ on their website quality. The expectations are growing and if a business doesn’t adapt for mobile devices then they will inevitably lose out to competitors that do.