Have you ever come across elderly folks all frowny-faced and complaining about how it used to be so much better in the good ol’ (mobile-free) days? Or “90s kids” putting their phone aside for a minute to think back nostalgically about their Nokia/Gameboy/Cable TV childhood?
Or perhaps you belong to the above milieu yourself. Whether you’re Gen Z or baby boomers or any generation in between, you should cherish this extinction-headed breed of people – they’re the last ones in the history of humankind who’ll know life without cell phones. Because for the rest 26% of the world population under the age of 15 currently, one of their earliest memories would be being hopelessly attracted to a small screen.
That is the world that we live in today, an ecosystem dominated by giant LED building-sized displays to snug AMOLED palm-fit rectangles. These little blocks of immense technology have become our window to the world, wherever we are, whenever we want.
Naturally then, much of our shopping behavior today is governed by these always-in-pocket instruments of instant gratification. A fact, that 21st-century businesses haven’t failed to take notice of. That is why if you’re no stranger to the world of B2B, the phrase “mobile-first design” wouldn’t be news to you. There’s much that has been said about its merits, and much more that will be said.
But what is it really that makes making your website mobile-friendly so important? Is it a trend that’s too overhyped? Or is it really worth that coveted bang for the buck? It’s time to put those doubts to rest today, so let’s dive right in.
The Growing Reality For B2B Businesses
Here’s a truth that mobile-first fanatics won’t tell you: the majority of the B2B website traffic is driven by desktop platforms, especially when you compare with B2C. Business browsing takes place more in the workplace than at home, and companies don’t work on mobile.
B2B marketers of businesses doing well for themselves without a mobile-friendly website might scoff at the idea of throwing away money on it – and they won’t be entirely wrong either. But are a desktop-oriented customer space and at par conversion numbers enough for a B2B company from taking a mobile-first approach?
Here’s another undeniable truth: more and more buyers are turning to their phones for making an informed decision before going all-in on a purchase. According to a study from the Bolton Consulting Group on B2B mobile use, 80 percent of B2B buyers report using mobile at work. Additionally, 70% of B2B buyers said they’ve increased mobile usage a lot in the past two to three years, and 60% expect to continue to increase their usage in the coming years.
Here are a few more mobile stats researched by established businesses to really drive this home:
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> 80% of internet users own a smartphone. – McFadyen Digital
> There are over 4B unique mobile internet users in the world. – Educate Direct
> US adults spent an average of 3 hours, 23 minutes per day on mobile devices in 2018. – Statista
> Email recipients prefer to open emails on mobile devices. – Email Monday
> Over 80% of the top websites rated by Alexa are mobile adaptive. – Mobi Forge
> Mobile devices are used for over 40% of online transactions. – Think With Google
> A positive brand experience on mobile will make 89% of people more likely to recommend a brand. – Think With Google
> 46% of people would not purchase from a brand again if they had an interruptive mobile experience. – LinkedIn
While riding on subjective experience, traditional B2B marketers may not hop on the hype train around mobile, but the data shows that the hype is real.
Should You Redesign Your Website With A Mobile-First Approach?
The above stats make it abundantly clear that there’s a rising trend of internet users browsing the web on mobile. This means that B2B companies will continue to see a rising part of their traffic coming through smartphones. However, we must address the other side of the B2B coin as well.
For the most part, the desktop-dominance of B2B traffic is not going to go down any time soon. And it’s interesting to note that while the first touchpoint for a customer to your business will probably be a desktop visit, a mobile visit for a consumer brand can be the be-all and end-all that makes a customer decide whether they’ll ever return again. In short, not being mobile-first has a more negative impact on a B2C brand than a B2B brand.
But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t adopt a mobile-first approach in your B2B website design. Doing this has clear perks: it improves your site performance (since search engines give priority to mobile-optimized websites, and it helps your business stay ahead of the race when mobile search inevitably transforms from a new trend to a given norm.
Even if you’re on the lookout for a basic website revamp, integrating a mobile-first initiative can help it transition smoothly into a completely mobile-optimized website in the future. But if you’re going all-in for an immersive and impactful website experience that leaves the visitor open-mouthed, the best strategy would be to channel your resources into a seamless desktop experience, while keeping mobile second (but certainly not ignored).
When To Go Mobile-First?
Building a mobile-first website from scratch or redesigning your current one for mobile is a good step forward for your B2B business. But what’s more important is the timing of it.
One of the crucial aspects to consider is your business traffic. Analyze the data on how visitor behavior has changed since you first launched your website. Are you seeing an increasing trend of mobile users landing on your site, ideally inflating by 20 percent or more year-by-year? If your B2B site has a good chunk of traffic coming in through mobile, it’s a clear indicator that you should be strongly considering a mobile-first design.
Other landscapes in which a mobile-optimized site can stand out is in a competitive SEO scenario. If you’re in an industry where big companies already have an established presence – where it’s a gargantuan feat to show up in the top ten of the best keywords – a mobile-first design can give you a competitive edge, especially if your rivals don’t offer a fluid mobile experience. Search engines already give preference to mobile-first design and are being engineered to factor it even more in the very near future.
Here’s the bottom line: you should focus on the mobile way before it was traditionally considered in the B2B strategy. Sure, if you’re planning a brand new website, you can concentrate solely on desktop design first on the initial few iterations. But after the foundational stone has been laid and direction oriented, it’s highly recommended to bring in a mobile-first approach to the mix soon after ideation.
Implementing A Mobile-First Approach: The Pros & Cons
Making your B2B website mobile-first, like most things in the business world, is easier said than done. Apart from the predictable hiccups such as program bugs, faulty functionalities, security concerns, and delayed implementation cycles that will come during the execution phase – one of the biggest challenges you’ll face while strategizing is figuring out your mobile breakpoints.
Mobile breakpoints are the various screen sizes that a website design has to adapt to. With the flurry of screen sizes available today from phones to tablets to phablets, it can be tricky to build a mobile-optimized version that best-fits all of them. To compound the issue further, every category of phone size has several screen dimensions to be aware of.
Discovering the most common mobile breakpoints will let you know what to optimize your mobile-design for. You’d need to have the data on what devices your target customers use, what kind of feature-limitations they have, what mobile browsers do they prefer, what’s the most used screen resolution, and so forth.
A simple google search will not reveal consumer behavior unique to your business. Your business will need to harness the power of modern marketing tech to track, compile, and forecast how your users are interacting with your business. Data is power, and with the right stats at hand, you can direct your resources most efficiently for an instant-hit mobile experience.
Also Read: Marketing Tips To Make 2021 Your Year
The Pay Off
As we pointed out before, search engines are moving increasingly towards mobile-first design. With 221 million mobile searchers in 2020 in the US alone, people worldwide prefer tuning in to the internet through their smartphones. Search engine algorithms are now built to actively look out for mobile-optimized websites, and give them priority to up the customer experience.
This means that having a mobile-first website translates into a direct SEO boost. Web engines will crawl your site often, your customer reach will be bolstered, and the engagement and conversion numbers will see a palpable bump.
Mobile-first design also adds the advantage of faster access. When you keep mobile in mind, your website will have to be customized to reduce the image size, decrease content width, and make navigation a breeze. This will enhance the speed and performance of your B2B site as you scale up to desktop.
However, perhaps the biggest benefit of having a phone-perfected website is a consistent brand experience. Once you’ve engaged with a prospect, they’ll start moving through the sales funnel. At work, at home, while commuting or connecting, they’ll be referencing your site across multiple devices. When your brand experience is constant and seamless across devices, the user feels visual (and hence, mentally) safe that what your business offers is the key to their needs.
The Mobile E-Commerce Trends B2B Brands Can Derive Inspiration From In 2021
#1 – Progressive Web Apps
Progressive Web Apps or PWAs are a godsend for businesses who don’t have the budget to get an app built. A PWA is an app that magically transforms a website into a mobile application. It is one of the key emergent e-commerce trends that show no sign of slowing down. And why would it?
Businesses are always on the lookout for new ways to increase sales and improve customer experience, and in the past decade, a mobile-first approach has proven to be a key driver of new online traffic. But instead of having to launch a native mobile app that can be pretty costly to develop, up and coming brands are making the most of innovative PWAs to provide a complete mobile experience through the power of a browser.
#2 – Voice Search
It’s the age of voice search. A shout out across the room to Alexa, Google Home, or Siri for results on “the best ways to improve conversions” might end in them landing up on your website through a blog post. But here’s the roadblock – most B2B websites don’t feature voice navigation. This ends up in the hands-free user having to inconveniently switch to mobile to browse in person and complete a purchase.
As the world gets faster, little things that slow them down can cause big annoyance. Customers are short on patience, and time is truly money. Modern businesses realize this, that is why the investment on optimizing website content for voice search is on the rise. B2B companies can change the game by making their products and services accessible to be purchased via voice channels alone, with having the consumer to even navigate through a screen.
#3 – Social Media Market
Selling your business through social media is the theme of the 21st century. And everyone knows it, consciously or subconsciously. We’ve all spent guilty seconds, minutes, and hours mindlessly browsing through an endless media feed of ads custom-tailored to our unique tastes. What hitting store to store to shop means – especially in these times – has become the modern equivalent of mass e-market prowling on the internet.
In 2021, social sites will dominate the advertising scene (even more, that is), making it easier for consumers to scroll, shop, and connect with their friends and brands, at the same time. B2B businesses can make the most of these B2C-dominated platforms to bring their offerings to customers in ways that attract and compel, through the power of social media’s lustre and accessibility.
#4 – Mobile Transactions
For those still warming to mobile payments, one of the greatest concerns is the fear of the unknown. Is it secure? Does it work the way it works elsewhere? Isn’t this too convenient to be safe?
Most online businesses have addressed these concerns by directing their purchasing portals on mobile payment experts such as Google Pay, Apple Pay, or PayPal. This way, the consumers don’t have to face either the inconvenience or the safety concerns that come with renting your credit card info before every purchase.
Another mobile trend that is on the rise now and will continue it’s path to the summit in 2021 is mobile e-payments. B2B businesses will do well to invest in mobile wallets and one-touch purchasing, putting their customers’ minds at rest when they shop through their device of choice without lending a second thought about security worries.