We all know mobile optimization is important, but even so, only 16% of marketers have developed a mobile strategy aimed at customer engagement, according to a CMO Council study. And only 14% said they were satisfied with the way their brands are accessing and leveraging mobile.
There is a lot of conversation on the internet about mobile websites for B2C, but mobile friendly website design for B2B companies is becoming increasingly important.
We recently had the opportunity to work with a B2B company in the healthcare software field that called us to see if we could help them build a mobile-friendly website. Their concern wasn’t their standard website. That website worked fine on both desktops and tablets. Their big concern was smartphones and how their website looked on the small screen of these devices.
As you might expect, we asked a lot of questions before determining what help they actually needed. If you’re the VP Marketing or Marketing Director of a B2B company, you should be asking these same questions before engaging a vendor to make a mobile-friendly website.
Why are you focusing on mobile now?
Why mobile? And why now? We want to understand what’s driving this conversation. Did the boss just say, “We need a mobile website,” or do they have some data that makes having a mobile website important? In the case of this client, they had seen their mobile traffic increase from 10% to 14% of the total traffic in just four months between January and April of this year.
Additionally, their buyer persona research revealed that their target buyer used a mobile device to access the internet on commutes to and from work, in the evenings, and on weekends.
What are the existing constraints?
This company was a HubSpot user and had migrated their existing website to HubSpot’s Foxboro theme. Although they were pleased with the look and functionality of their website, there were areas of the site that didn’t look on smartphones and they were concerned that this was having a negative impact on functionality and their lead generation process.
Their existing design company had told them that these issues couldn’t be rectified within HubSpot and they should develop a separate mobile site for smartphone users. They contacted us to see what this would cost, but I wasn’t sure yet how to advise them.
Three options for B2B mobile websites
There were three possible ways to go:
- Fix the current site
- Build a separate mobile website.
- Rebuild their current website to be 100% responsive to device size and automatically adjust for each different device.
They had been told that option 1 wasn’t doable, so they were looking at options 2 and 3. Since we’ve been beta testing HubSpot’s new Content Optimization System (COS) over the past 2 months, we helped them understand that soon there would be a 100% responsive platform right in HubSpot where they could redesign their entire website and have a single website that would work well for desktop users, tablet users, and mobile users. Since this new platform is coming in 2013, it really didn’t make sense to hire us to rebuild their entire website now, as it would be better (and much less expensive!) to wait a few months and use the new toolset when it was available.
That left option 2, building a separate website for small mobile devices. We have done some of these sites, and the problem that always arises is they now have two websites to maintain, the desktop site and the smartphone site. Most marketing departments are already overburdened and don’t have the bandwidth to support another website — and this was the case with this client.
No options left — now what?
With obvious reluctance, they let us turn the conversation back to option 1, fixing the existing site. They reassured us that their web firm was adamant that the Foxboro theme was the problem and that this couldn’t be fixed. I agreed with them on Foxboro being the problem. . . and decided to ask some more questions.
What exactly needed to be fixed?
We wanted to determine what the minimum acceptable solution would be, so we asked what exactly needed to be fixed and we walked through their website with them, each of us consulting our smartphones to see how things looked.
It was obvious that the homepage needed a lot of help. The design that worked so well in the desktop view, could most politely be called a mess on our smartphones. The header also needed some work and the 5-column footer wasn’t going to be functional at all on a smartphone. Finally, the buttons for submitting forms were too small and there were a couple problems with images on the site.
So that was really good news! We determined that most of the site worked well on smartphones and that there were a limited set of issues that needed to be resolved. (Which they again reminded us couldn’t be done in the Foxboro theme.)
The feasibility study and ultimate solution
It looked to us like all of these issues really could be fixed within their existing theme, and we proposed a quick feasibility study to determine if we were correct. The ideal deliverable from this study would be a sample page of their website that looked good on smartphones. They liked this approach and immediately agreed to the feasibility study.
A couple days later we showed them the working sample page, with all the identified issues resolved, and they were thrilled. We then implemented these changes sitewide for them. The net result was that for a total cost of under $1000, they were able to use their existing website on all mobile devices and retain all the important user functionality across all devices.
Along the way, we discovered an issue that they weren’t aware of that was probably costing them at least 30% of their website traffic. Needless to say, they jumped on that issue right away and now have more traffic across all device platforms and feel they got great value out the whole process.
Does your mobile-friendly website work the way you want?
Have you looked at your mobile traffic lately? (Google Analytics is great for this.) You’ll probably see that your mobile traffic is increasing month over month. How does your website look on mobile devices? Check it out on a tablet, an iPhone and an Android phone. Check it out on a Windows phone if you have one available. While it’s not critical that the website looks the same on each of these devices, it IS important that your website retains its usability and functionality across all these devices.