Does Your Gas Station Have A Mobile Site Too?
Last month I got a big surprise from my local gas station.
It wasn’t just that the price of gas had significantly dropped (contrary to what so many of the forecasters were saying earlier this year). Or that my family’s minivan with 125,000 miles on it needed a new transmission. Or that, while in the midst of replacing said transmission a service technician found a half filled juice box wedged between the van’s back seats (my kids are teenagers and haven’t used a juice box in at least a decade).
The big surprise came when I went to call the gas station to check on the status of our repair job. I forgot their phone number. So I went to look it up on my Droid.
Oh, I found the number alright. It was on their website. Their mobile website. My local gas station has a mobile website. Let me repeat: my local gas station has a mobile website.
Why did this get my attention? Because my company, a technology consulting firm, did not have a mobile website. But the mechanic did. Was I missing something? Clearly yes. Something important.
The guy who owns my local gas station isn’t blind. He sees, like we all do, that everyone’s using mobile devices. You know the numbers, right? Mobile phone access now reaches three quarters of the world’s population. People in Singapore are so in love with their phones that one in three would forgo a significant lottery win rather than lose their device. Here in the U.S., recent Pew study found that 55 percent of U.S. adults use their mobile phone to go online. And more research shows that there are 331 million mobile users here, which is actually more than our total population. This must mean that somewhere, somebody’s dog is ordering a pizza on an iPhone as I write this. Just last week we found out that mobile devices are so important to us that we can’t stop using them even when watching TV.
And yet, according to research done by Google, less than 10% of small businesses currently have a mobile site.
Like my business. What is this madness when my local gas station is more tech savvy than my tech consulting firm?
Bryden Media’s CEO Brian Walker says this is about to change in a big way. “Google has a different algorithm when a user searches on a mobile device as opposed to a regular computer,” he told me. “Today’s mobile devices are looking for mobile friendly sites to display. We’re about to see a big jump in small businesses making their websites mobile.”
When people visit a mobile optimized site they tend to take action immediately. According to the company’s research, one in five will place an immediate phone call. Cesar’s Killer Margaritas, a chain of Mexican restaurants based in Chicago, says they get more than 1700 mobile visits a month to their site which accounts for 33% of their total traffic. My friends at the local gas station, not known for their great metrics, still tell me anecdotally that they are seeing many new visits and phone calls to their business because they are being found more easily on people’s smartphones and tablets.
Not to be out-geeked by my local gas station, I too decided to take my company’s website mobile using Bryden Media’s service. And I learned a few things. Secondly, and before using a service like Bryden Media, ask your Internet Service Provider (ISP). My local gas station hosts their website with Bryden and my friend there told me that they were able to mobilize their site for small deposit and a extra few bucks a month as part of their hosting services.
For starters, it’s not necessary to make an entire site mobile. You don’t have to over do it or make things more complicated. Unless you’re selling a lot of stuff online, most people who want to find your business probably do not want anything more than your contact information and a basic overview of what you do. So for a typical service business like mine (or the gas station) it’s probably enough that you mobilize your “contact us” or “about us” page and your home page. If you’re in the restaurant business (and according to Bryden Media 28% of those businesses who have gone mobile are in the restaurant and food industry) it may be a good touch to also make your menu available too.
If you’re going to use a service like Bryden Media then you should have them build you a test mobile site. Why? Because this site gives you more information about the process then I’m probably giving plus you can sign up with Bryden Media on this site and save a bunch of money, rather than doing it directly.
There is a little technical work involved. I had my webmaster at Bryden Media handle the whole thing. Even though we only mobilized a few pages from my site, there were still a couple of funky design things that needed to be done for aesthetic purposes which would’ve probably made me (I have no patience whatsoever) put my fist through the computer’s screen. Also, a line of HTML code had to be manually inserted into my website so that when a user goes there directly the site would recognize that it’s being looked at by a mobile device and immediately bounce the user to the mobile friendly version.
My mobile friendly version, by the way, uses Bryden Media URL but if you transfer your domain to them they can set it up in yours. So when a visitor types in my site they’re getting transferred to a site that reads “mobile.brydenmedia.com/site/yourcompany.” Sure, this is probably just to make the process as simple as possible. But methinks that’s also because of a potential nefarious plan to earn advertising bucks, eh? That’s fine by me because it’s cheap. And I’m cheap. If I want to pay a higher monthly fee then I can have a mobile site that’s a sub-domain of my own website.
I’ve been talking about Bryden Media here because I spoke to Brian and I’ve heard of those guys before. But to get a list of the latest services, tools and technologies for making your website more mobile friendly check out this search I did at one of my favorite tech sites Makeuseof.com.
It’s been a few months since I mobilized my site. It was inexpensive and easy. And now my customers (and prospects) can find me quicker. Plus, at least for the time being, I’m a little step ahead of my competition. But the biggest benefit is that I no longer have to hang my head in shame because the guy at my local gas station is more tech savvy than me.