Though many of us still remember the days when we used to consult those large dictionary-sized phone directories, a new generation of consumers does not. This new generation, born in the era of Internet and instant information, knows only to turn on their computers and lets Google do the rest of the work. However, in this age of constant technological innovation, another paradigm shift is coming: with the advent of mobile browsing and smartphones, consumers can now access the internet from anywhere, be it in a shopping mall, on the streets, in a park, or even at home. With a plentitude of information displayed neatly at their fingertips, the potential consumer demand for information is endless. But what of the supply side? What do Canadian businesses offer to their customers in terms of mobile-accessible information? A proper understanding of this new mobile generation can greatly benefit small and medium businesses hoping to make their name heard.
Canadian businesses have the luck of having access to the fourth-largest smartphone penetration in the world. Estimates put 40% of Canada’s 25.5 million mobile phone subscribers as having upgraded to a smartphone, with about 40% and 31% using RIM and Apple smartphones, respectively. Smartphones are becoming more and more important for Canadian consumers: about 60% of smartphone users access the Internet every day on their smartphones, and 79% never leave home without it. The most prevalent uses for mobile browsing for consumers seem to be: searching for information on products or stores, looking for ways to save money (looking for coupons or price comparisons), and researching brand information. The numbers seem to collaborate: the most-accessed website on mobile happens to be Google Search, with the erstwhile Google Maps coming in at number 8. About 26% of mobile users researched products before buying them, and about 36% of mobile users end up making a purchase. This trend is not only for large corporations, however. As much as 87% of mobile users search for local information, and 89% take some sort of action based on these searches, be it visiting or contacting the business. It is therefore very important to assure that your business has maximum visibility in search engines, as 69% of mobile users look no further than the first page of internet search results when looking for information.
In addition to actively searching for products or stores, mobile browsing can also be a very important tool for marketing a business. In fact, as much as 86% of mobile users notice mobile ads, and the mobile ads the most noticed are on websites (46%), apps (45%), and those derived from search engines (34%). Though many businesses focus on search engine advertisement, it would seem more appropriate to focus on site ads for mobile consumers. One source of ad placement that is sometimes forgotten is for social networks. Indeed, Facebook is one of the most-accessed websites on mobile, and a good 74% of mobile users visit social networks, and 47% of those, at least as once a day. Thus, it is becoming more and more important to focus on social media marketing as part of a balanced marketing strategy, especially when geared towards mobile users.