With a mobile penetration rate in excess of 128%, there are more active SIM cards in South Africa than there are people. To date, some 10 million smartphones have been sold in South Africa and an increasing number of people are using their phones to browse the internet.

In addition, Samsung is set to supply half of the smartphones sold in Africa this year and aims to double these sales in 2014. A large investment such as this from a leading global technology leader, means that the mobile user market has been earmarked as one that is set to grow.

With an increasing number of South Africans using their mobile phones to browse online, it would logical to assume that we need to optimise our websites for mobile usage and access, but moreover, this would mean that organisations must ensure that their ability to attract mobile users becomes the central theme of their overall online marketing strategy.

In flew a Hummingbird…

Google recently released its most advanced web-search algorithm to date – Hummingbird, which depending on how you have approached your online marketing strategy, could impact how you are currently doing things. Hummingbird has been designed specifically around the habits and needs of mobile web surfers.

In a nutshell, the Hummingbird Algorithm requires that you employ content marketing best practices which are aimed at catering to the needs and interests of your target audience. Shareable, likeable, quality content that is truly engaging is what you will be required to create and share, if you aren’t already doing so.

This may or may not require a shift in how you are packaging your online message for your website visitors. If you would like a second opinion, or aren’t sure about how to develop your mobile marketing strategy, either contact us or take a look through our earlier posts such as: ‘The Equation for Engaging Content.

But before we go into any further detail regarding Hummingbird, let’s first try and understand the needs of this new-age mobile user that we are now required to cater for.

The rise of the mobile web surfer

Have you ever tried surfing the internet on your own mobile device or tried to navigate your own website? If you haven’t – grab your phone and do so right now!

Ask yourself whether your core message and USP (unique selling point) is crystal clear? Is your website engaging and easy to read? What do you find irritating about your own website and the websites of your competitors? If you were the customer, what would you like to see on your website?

Become a mobile web surfer yourself to help you understand the experience your audience is having and once you have done that, understand the following fundamental truths about the habits and preferences of mobile web surfer’s world-wide.

More engaged by visuals and audio content

Many of us are continually on the move, ridiculously busy with too many stringent deadlines to achieve and so very few of us really has the time to read these days! Consequently, the ability to communicate in a more visual manner is becoming increasingly important. More individuals are now consuming bite-size pieces of information, delivered in a way that they can understand quickly. An example would be an Infographic 1Infographic 2 . Other forms of visual and audio content include webinar recordings, photos, videos and micro-videos. These can be designed to pique interest and lead the individual on to more comprehensive information regarding the subject on either your website or blog.

Socially active

In South Africa, a staggering 85% of mobile phone users access Facebook using their phones. Ensuring that your website and blog content as well as visual media is easy to share to social media, is therefore imperative. In addition, review whether your posts read well on Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+ when using your mobile phone.

Hungry for features

In the days of old we typically created mobile versions of our websites in which functionality was stripped down and a fairly unappealing version of our website made available. Times have changed. A mobile user today expects to navigate your actual website – not your mobi-site and they expect it to work well with all the interactivity they would have on their desktop PC, so there is no question that your website must be mobile responsive e.g. www.capeleisuretours.co.za

Mostly use natural phrase search

This applies to web surfers generally, however we are seeing an increase in this trend from mobile users who mostly use natural language terms and queries, or ‘conversational’ search queries when they are looking for products and services online. Google is literally wanting to emulate a spoken query such as ‘how tall is the Eiffel Tower’?, or ‘is there a Nike concept store in Cape Town’? etc. We suspect with the recent launch of Google Glass, that the Hummingbird Algorithm is in part, intended to cater to voice based instead of keyboard based interaction with technology and the internet.

Catering to the mobile web surfer

Mobile-friendly design

This the most important aspect of your strategy. In the future, we will all need to employ a ‘mobile first’ approach in which we cater to the needs of our increasing mobile market first, and scale our websites up from there. Design considerations include what font to use, page layout, video formats used and the ability to easily locate and click on buttons and links.

Here are some key reasons from Google as to why it is imperative for you to design your website for mobile browsing: What Users Want Most from Mobile Sites Today

Engaging written content

Position yourself as the business that provides great answers to burning customer questions. Content is and will remain king and Google’s Hummingbird Algorithm continues to hone in on well written, good quality content that is easy to read using conversational, natural language. Nauseating superlatives and highfalutin corporate copy will increasingly serve to alienate, rather than attract customers. Detailed page content, whether this pertains to your blog or website could receive preference from Google, but ensuring that your content is easy to read for mobile users is imperative. Consider using bold headings and concise introductions which outline page content.

Diverse content

Remember that the modern audience at large, but especially mobile web-surfers, prefer varied content that is visually rich. Be sure to incorporate a diversity of content on your website such as an introductory and informational video, social media feeds, an app download (if applicable to your business), Infographics, a picture gallery and of course your blog.

The Last Word – Keep up or Miss Out

It has become imperative to stay on top of your game when it comes to the ever-changing marketing landscape today. Almost every company needs to employ some form of mobile marketing strategy but many don’t know where to start, nor how to continue. Frankly, it pays to have someone in the know on your side. If you don’t have the budget to employ a marketing person full time, then consider a digital marketing agency such as The Formula to help you. Your financial and branding returns will far outweigh your capital investment.

Should you require assistance to develop your mobile marketing strategy and increase your online audience – get in touch with The Formula. We have the resources in place to help you plan and deploy the perfect marketing strategy. Give Garth Dahl or Shiraz Khatib a call on 021 556 5661 or email us: info@theformula.co.za – our consultations are always free!

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