08/02/2012 07:54 EDT | Updated 10/02/2012 05:12 EDT

If You're a Business and You're Not on Mobile, You're Doing it Wrong


According to Comscore, 40 per cent of Canadians own a smartphone. Not only are smartphones ubiquitous, they've changed the way we live and become an extension of ourselves. If accidentally leaving your smartphone at home leaves you with a serious case of separation anxiety, you're not alone.

Working in the digital space, I've never put much stock in the argument that mobile dependency is a bad thing. Our little handheld computers are powerful tools that keep us connected to our social networks, our schedules, those little apps that make our lives more convenient and easier to live by, our memories and our to-do lists. They allow us to settle trivia bets with friends, find directions to that new place, check the final score of the game or find out behind-the-scenes gossip about our favourite shows.

They provide "snacks" of information to consume on the go. You would think that brands would be scrambling to establish their mobile presence. Surprisingly, this is not the case. Despite mobile use skyrocketing, 75 per cent of 225 brand websites we surveyed had no mobile presence whatsoever. A handful have hard-to-navigate miniaturized sites, many were in Flash (which doesn't work on Apple's mobile products) and a scant 15 per cent have a proper mobile optimized site. Few brands realize that Google eliminates sites that are not mobile optimized from its search algorithm. In order to stay competitive, brands need to catch up with consumers and meet them where they live -- their smartphones.

Here are a few crucial opportunities brands are missing out on by ignoring mobile:

1. Ignoring mobile = Ignoring your opportunity to connect with customers

Engaging customers in a two-way digital world is at the heart of brand building. When a customer seeks your business out on their mobile phone and you're either nowhere to be found or can't provide them with the information they need, not only are they unlikely to recommend you, they're likely to look to your competitor. Most important here is considering local information like where a store is located, and the contact number, because this customer is generally on the go.

2. Losing an opportunity to customize offers and create brand ambassadors

Don't lose sight of what a smartphone can do -- offer your customers location-aware specials and check-ins, allow them to post reviews and photos on their social networks, and, let's not forget, call you.

3. Frustrating users with miniaturized sites

A miniaturized site is better than no mobile site -- but just barely. Don't make your customers strain their eyes and fingers trying to zoom and scroll. Consider out of the box solutions like Mobify, that can quickly mobile optimize key sections of your site, while you develop your mobile website strategy that integrates with your Content Management System and publishing strategy.

4. Lumping themselves in with the 75 per cent

When it comes to mobile, consumers are way ahead of brands. That so few brands have a mobile presence provides a tremendous opportunity for leadership and to be one of the few brands who do mobile well.