From accessing mobile money services, to messaging, ordering a taxi (or takeaways), and not forgetting calling - the mobile device has become one of the most important tools to millions of Africans on the continent. In a study of the Sub-Saharan consumer market, Ericsson’s Mobility Report shows that users in the region have shown a preference for using their device for a variety of activities that are normally performed on laptops or desktops, with seventy percent of mobile users in the sampled countries browsing the web on their devices, compared to the 6 percent who use desktop computers. They attribute this trend to the relatively low cost of mobile phones which means it’s accessible to consumers, especially those from the rising middle-class.
In other words, if you’re an SME in Africa without a mobile optimized website, you’re missing out. GeoPoll and World Wide Worxs’ recent Mobile Africa 2015 study shows that internet browsing via mobile phones stands at 40 percent. This is based on surveys in five African countries - Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa and Uganda. More than 50 percent of participants questioned in Ghana say they use their mobile phones to access the internet. In Nigeria it’s 47 percent, South Africa 40 percent, Kenya 34 percent, and Uganda just under 30 percent.
Globally, the number of people using the mobile internet reached close to two and a half billion at the end of last year. GSMA’s Mobile Economy Report predicts that growth in developing countries will help push this up 3.8 billion mobile internet users by 2020.
What does this all mean for you? You already have a website. You love your website. It looks great on a desktop. But remember that while your website might look great on a desktop, chances are it does not translate the same on mobile. The first step is to TEST the current mobile friendliness of your site. Still not convinced? Read on for three reasons to mobile-optimize your site.
YOU WANT AN EDGE OVER YOUR COMPETITION:
A mobile optimized site will help generate more traffic, boost customer engagement, which in turn will lead to increased sales. In a global survey of 4,800 SMEs, McKinsey & Company found that “across all sectors, companies utilising Web technologies grew more than twice as fast as those with a minimal online presence, generating more revenue through exports and creating more jobs.” The full “Lions go Digital” report that focuses on the internets’ transformative potential in Africa can be found HERE .
IMPROVED USER EXPERIENCE:
A visitor should be able to navigate around your site with ease. You don't want to have them scroll from left to right to view full contents, or zooming in just to be able to read the text. The better the experience, the longer they are likely to hang around, increasing the chances of stay converting them from visitor to customer. A mobile optimized site also means faster speed. Who has the time (or patience) to wait for a page to load? Some research reports showing that close to 60 percent of mobile users will abandon your site if it takes more than 3 seconds to load. Other are are more generous, saying users will wait up to 10 seconds before logging off.
GOOGLE WANTS YOU TO:
Earlier this year Google launched a new algorithm that favours mobile-optimized sites. Sites optimized for mobile devices rank higher when you do a Google search on your phone, meaning more people will be able to find you. In explaining the change, Google said it was doing it to help users “find it easier to get relevant, high quality search results that are optimized for their devices.”
There’s the wrong perception that creating a mobile optimized site is expensive. A number of service providers - including go.Africa.com - have made it super easy and affordable for anyone to get their business online in Africa. With mobile internet usage on the continent expected to increase 20-fold over the next five years (that’s double the rate of growth in the rest of the world!) having a site that’s not mobile-optimized just does not make sense.