Jan 13, 2010

More on Mobile Marketing

Back in August, I mentioned a Pew Internet Report which found that approximately one third of African Americans access the Internet through a cell phone or other mobile device.  I recommended that lawyers serving African American clients make their websites and blogs mobile compliant to facilitate easy access via a hand held device. 

Now, I realize that I should have expanded my advice.  Because even if only a tiny portion of your target clients currently access the web through mobile devices today, very shortly, many more will.  By 2013, mobile phones will overtake PCs as the most common Web access device, predicts Gartner Research.  Thus, as we move through the second decade of the twenty-first century, all lawyers will reap benefits by expanding their marketing efforts to the mobile arena, while those who fail to will lose out.

From Gartner's Press Release:   

the total number of PCs in use will reach 1.78 billion units in 2013. By 2013, the combined installed base of smartphones and browser-equipped enhanced phones will exceed 1.82 billion units and will be greater than the installed base for PCs thereafter.

Mobile Web users are typically prepared to make fewer clicks on a website than users accessing sites from a PC. Although a growing number of websites and Web-based applications offer support for small-form-factor mobile devices, many still do not. Websites not optimized for the smaller-screen formats will become a market barrier for their owners -- much content and many sites will need to be reformatted/rebuilt.

While 2013 is still three years away, lawyers are better off getting out in front, rather than scrambling to play catch up.  So what can lawyers do to expand their presence in the mobile online world?  Below are four ideas:

1.  DO design websites and blogs with mobile use in mind.  The
Online Marketing Blog recommends keeping fonts basic, stripping out images to optimize loading time, remove third party services from side bars and focus on delivery of content.   For those running WordPress based blogs, design for mobile devices is even easier: you can use a WPtouch iPhone
If you run a WordPress blog, you can use a
Word Press iphone theme plug-in to automatically create a small-screen friendly version of your blog.

2. DO develop content with search in mind.  As web access goes mobile, find-ability will be critical.  After all, users aren't likely to have the patience or agility to run Google searches and scroll through results on a 2" x 3" screen that downloads slowly.  Moreover, a significant percentage of mobile users will be searching for local assistance:  consider, for example, an abused wife who's left her home and needs a lawyer to file a restraining order or a businessman arrested for DUI.  In both of these scenarios, the prospective client will be searching for a lawyer away from home and will want to find someone within a specific jurisdiction.
The Online Marketing Blog suggests focusing on local directories (a topic I wrote about here) to improve find-ability in mobile search:

The best way to ensure you are found on mobile devices is to make sure your site is in all the local search directories with full and accurate profiles. Places like Google Local and Yahoo local probably receive more traffic from users who want to find business in a certain area. When I've used my phone to search the web, I was searching for specific businesses to visit.  Social networking through mobile is also popular and through links, can drive web site traffic. A combination of search and social is the direction where I see the bulk of mobile traffic going.

3.  DO explore creative ways to establish a mobile presence, but DON'T be tacky.  Fort Lauderdale, Florida based lawyer, Jason Turchin just released the free iphone MyAttorney app, reports the Florida Sun Sentinel.  Granted, the MyAttorney feature which enables cell phone users to call their lawyer at the touch of a button arguably meets the tacky test.  But in my view, MyAttorney is redeemed by inclusion of useful tools, such as a checklist of what to do in an accident and a feature for submitting a case inquiry and uploading and submitting photos.

4.  DO get moving on video  Nearly a year ago, I wrote about the importance of video to online marketing.  As user access moves to mobile devices, video marketing takes on even more importance.  For some users, reading text on a mobile device, can prove cumbersome even at an optimized site.  By contrast, video is much easier to view on a phone, and users can still listen even if they have difficulty seeing the video, they can listen.   Most mobile phones already integrate YouTube seamlessly into their design, and consumers have grown adept at watching videos on the small screen.  Chances are, they'll be equally adept at listening to education-based videos or scrolling through video interviews with attorneys on their phones as well.      
Are you good to go in this decade's on-the-go marketing world?  And if not, what are you doing to prepare?