"If someone is searching for your business on their phone and it takes longer than three seconds for your site to load or for them to get the content they want, research shows they will look elsewhere."
Annette Tonti is the CEO of Providence-based mobile technology company MoFuse Inc. As CEO, Tonti is responsible for the company’s business strategy as well as the overall execution in a fast-growing mobile market.
Prior to her position at MoFuse, Tonti was co-founder and CEO of Bluestreak Inc. and executive producer of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Media Laboratory. She also serves on Rhode Island’s Small business Advisory Board and is a mentor for the BetaSpring startup accelerator program.
Tonti talked to Providence Business News about the company’s recent “State of the Mobile Web” report, mobile web versus smartphone apps and the importance of a strong mobile website for businesses.
PBN: You just recently released your first “State of the Mobile Web” report, why did you decide to compile this data and what do you think companies have to gain from knowing it?
TONTI: We know that mobile users in the U.S. are spending more and more time on their mobile phones. Fifty-nine percent report spending over 40 minutes a day browsing the mobile web and over one-third of mobile searches are local. Companies want to capture this opportunity to connect with consumers when they are actively seeking information. With thousands of mobile websites using the MoFuse mobile web content management platform, we have access to data that will help companies better understand mobile web browsing behavior such as when they are browsing, how long they are spending on a mobile site, what information they are accessing, and what features are most popular.
Our goal at MoFuse is not just to help organizations go mobile, we want to help them be mobile more effectively. Future editions of the State of the Mobile Web report will take a deeper dive into consumer behavior and look at certain industries to help companies better optimize their mobile presence.
PBN: Which industries had the most mobile web activity, according to your report?
TONTI: We noticed a big gap between the number of pages visited on a publisher, entertainment, or government site versus industries representing small businesses. What this tells us is that local and small businesses really need to optimize their mobile site to put the most critical information within three taps. Simply making your entire desktop site content available via mobile isn't necessarily going to provide the best experience the mobile user is looking for.
PBN: Why is it so important for companies to focus on mobile web?
TONTI: There are many reasons but number one is search. One half of mobile searches are looking for local business information and 9 out of 10 smartphone searches result in an action -- such as a phone call, store visit, or online purchase. If someone is searching for your business on their phone and it takes longer than three seconds for your site to load or for them to get the content they want, research shows they will look elsewhere.
PBN: What's the main difference between having a good mobile website versus having a company smartphone app?
TONTI: Let's start with cost and resources. The average small or local business doesn't have the expertise or the budget to build a native smartphone app, whereas a mobile website can be created and customized very quickly, at a very small expense. An App must be built for the actual device, that means an App for Iphone, and a separate one for Android, Blackberry etc.
Discoverability is also key! Search is the number one activity on mobile web, when you have a problem with your car, you are probably not first going to the App store to find and download an app. You would more likely just go to Google on the mobile browser and search for car repair in your area. If you have a mobile website you will rank higher on search! It’s really a compelling reason for every business to get mobile now.
PBN: What is some advice you have for small business owners who aren't necessarily tech savvy?
TONTI: Don't let that stop you. Your customers are mobile and you need to be too. Our MobileNow or Jumpstart service is a great way to get started and doesn't require any technical skills. We also offer Build-it-for-You services if you just don’t have the time to build it yourself.
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