Google’s Mobilegeddon algorithm update last spring was just as big as advertised, according to the Wall Street Journal. Business websites that didn’t invest in mobile friendly websites experienced the pain of non-compliance in higher costs, less traffic and lower ranking while mobile friendly websites got a lift.

Just a word of warning — Google isn’t done “training” website managers on the best user experience on mobile. Just a couple weeks ago, it announced a new penalty for mobile websites using full screen pop-up ads that cover the entire screen and encourage the user to download an app.

Not a good user experience (UX), says Google. And Google is all about good UX.

Why is this a big deal? The consumer’s crush on smartphones and tablets isn’t abating. Mobile friendly web design is just the beginning, the first date if you will.

Consumers appreciate a website with a pretty face, but it has to have more than that. If your website is all flash and no substance, you won’t hold the consumer’s attention for long.

Marriage of Convenience

It’s true that customers don’t want to pinch and scroll and, absolutely, a website needs to make sense for mobile users. But that’s just the bare minimum for a good mobile experience.

As part of the logical progression to a more mature love affair with all things digital, consumers are looking for interactive tools that make their lives easier. In other words, they’ve moved past the infatuation stage to a more practical, real-world relationship.

Even beyond the SEO benefits, digital tools must truly add convenience and value to be effective. For instance, if you use your digital powers to drive customer service inquiries away from the call center or your sales team to a chat window, make sure your team can support that function.

If the wait time for a response from your website still is too long, and your responses still are not helpful, you will not realize any value from adding those tools, and you may very well lose customers in the process.

Needs-Based Tools

Appointment setting tools, e-Commerce and online registrations were the first wave of online tasks widely adopted by consumers. Now consumers have the same expectation to achieve these tasks securely from their mobile devices from wherever they happen to be.

Tools that make the brick-and-mortar shopping experience more convenient by letting customers try something in the virtual world before plunking down hard-earned money are popular. For example, Sally Hansen, a beauty supply company, recently launched the new ManiMatch app, which lets consumers scan their own hand with their mobile device, then get color suggestions and test various shades of nail polish on that image before they ever purchase the product.

The same kinds of technology let consumers test new colors of siding or paint on their home, pick out new cars with a variety of options, and visualize how other custom-built products will appear. Other tools allow consumers to start the diagnostic process or price a complicated project, moving them further along the buying cycle before they make contact with the business.

When every website is mobile friendly, and they all start to look alike, value and ease of use will become the big differentiator for consumers. Those businesses that offer online tools and services that are compatible with their customers’ needs and respect their time will enjoy long-term relationship with their customers.

l Regina Gilloon-Meyer is a content marketing specialist for Fusionfarm, a division of The Gazette Company, (319) 368-8530,, @Regiimary


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