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Trends in Mobile Marketing

Here’s a scenario with implications you might want to think about. Picture a site-selection professional who receives a message from a client while out of the office. The client is in a hurry to obtain comparative information about available industrial lands – from your community and another.

The site selector gets to work on her mobile device. She calls up your investment-attraction website as well as your competitor’s. Unfortunately your site’s information is impossible to find on the tiny mobile screen. Ah, but the other community has a website designed for access by a mobile device and the needed information is quickly found, copied into an e-mail and sent to the client.

The site selector promises to send information to the client about your community later, as soon as there is time to find it using the computer in her office. The client is in a hurry, though, and will already have judged whether the first community’s offerings fit the bill. Now, what is the most likely outcome of this search?

Mobile Friendly Economic Development

The fact is that mobile devices are the primary tools of business today. Everybody is on the move and carries a device. Nobody wants to wait for information. Nobody wants to miss an opportunity. Is your economic development department missing the opportunity to make your website available to people in motion?

According to market research site, more than 250 million Americans carry mobile phones, which is more than 80 per cent of the population. Of those, 54.5 million access the Internet regularly from their phones. A third of young adults regularly access Facebook and Twitter from their mobile phones.

There is plenty of research to show that the world is going mobile. Research firm Gartner expects the number of smartphones worldwide to triple by 2014 to about 850 million.

The popularity of web access via mobile devices means that investment attraction sites need to be mobile friendly. Does this mean, however, that your economic development department should build an application that site selectors can download to their devices so they can have your data handy at all times?

Probably not. It would make sense if your audience were always looking for maps, restaurants, or movie theaters because those are things a person might do multiple times a month. But it’s not realistic — at least not yet – to assume that a site selector will be walking around with a smartphone full of community economic development apps.

Much more realistic is to assume that a site selector or business prospect will use a web browser most of the time, providing them with a mobile friendly version of your website lets them know that you mean business.

Mobile Property Hunting

You can follow the example of the Greater Oklahoma City Partnership. Its property locator site, gives viewers all kinds of detailed information and search options about Oklahoma properties, ideal for use on a big screen – but not on a mobile device.

So the Partnership offers a mobile website with the same information, but designed to help corporate real estate professionals and site selectors on the fly. If you access from a smartphone or tablet, what will you see? Not the complex map on the desktop, but a series of easily visible options, using text and boxes arranged in an elementary series, that guide the visitor in a search for properties by type, size or location, or to see profiles of the various communities within Greater Oklahoma.

Eric Long, research economist of the Greater OKC Partnership, comments, “Being able to view available properties or pull a demographic report from your mobile phone while in the field is incredibly convenient and beneficial.

“Using Google Analytics, we have already noticed a large number of site visits to OKCEDIS from mobile devices,” Long reports. “We anticipate that mobile traffic as a per cent of overall visits will continue to grow in the future.”

Keeping It Simple for Mobile Investment Attraction

The Greater OKC site illustrates some design principles that are currently considered to be best practices for business-oriented mobile sites:

  • Keep it simple. Make sure that the user is not overwhelmed with too many options and does not have to constantly scroll up and down.
  • Use ample white space. Particularly when showing links, give viewers an easy chance to hit their target without clicking on something they don’t want.
  • Limit images and graphics. Images take longer to appear on a mobile device than on a desktop, and users typically don’t want to wait for them.
  • Prioritize your content. What do your viewers really want to see? Measure the hits on various pages to determine what the favorites are, then highlight those topics.
  • Determine the optimal resolution for your content. A resolution of 240 x 320 pixels is the industry standard, but make sure your content can be viewed clearly when expanded.

There are technical aspects to mobile websites as well, and we will discuss some of those in this series and provide examples of effective mobile sites and campaigns. Most important, as always with web initiatives, is to design and implement a mobile investment attraction site with the strategic aim of supporting your economic development goals.

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