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Small firms urged to not neglect mobile-optimised websites

Wednesday, 24 April 2013 | By Michelle Hammond

Start-ups have been warned not to overlook the growing number of customers who use mobiles to access business’ websites, following a new poll that found that less than 10% of restaurant owners have mobile-optimised websites.


The research, conducted by Marketing 4 Restaurants, found that failed Flash components and unreadable text were among the common mobile-related problems encountered in the industry.


Marketing 4 Restaurants helps restaurant and café owners find and keep customers by building websites optimised for search and mobile devices, and integrated with Facebook and Twitter.


It also provides a database for restaurant owners to build up a marketing list.


The Melbourne-based business has released the findings of its latest Restaurant Website Visitor Report, which reviews all of the information from its customers’ websites.


Data from March 2013 was compared with data from May 2012.


The report shows 29% of all traffic to restaurant websites comes from mobile devices, while Safari is the most popular browser – it makes up 50% of all browsers, up from 37%.


But according to the report, less than one in 10 businesses actually have a mobile-optimised site.


Some of the problems encountered include Flash components that don’t work, text that is unreadable on mobile screens, and PDFs that are difficult to navigate on a mobile phone.


Fred Schebesta, director of comparison website Finder.com.au, says the extent to which you invest in a mobile-optimised website comes down to what type of business you run.


“If you are a hotel or a restaurant or a bar – they’re the ones that do need to focus on the mobile,” Schebesta told StartupSmart.


“In other businesses, where [consumer] decisions are done mainly from a desktop, mobile usage is not as high.


“So I think it’s important to clarify that and suggest there are businesses that are going to benefit but there are others that aren’t necessarily going to benefit as much.”


But Scott Robinson, director of marketing specialist Jack in the Box, says businesses that fail to optimise their websites for mobile risk losing a sizeable portion of potential customers.


“If I stood out the front of your bricks-and-mortar store and told every third person they weren’t allowed in the store, you would tell me I was an idiot,” Robinson told StartupSmart.


“Then why are you turning away 30% of the people that are coming to your website?”


If nothing else, Robinson says business websites should provide consumers with the business’ contact details.


“It’s not overly costly and it’s just enough to say, ‘We actually care that you want to talk to us on your handheld device while you’re on the run but we’re not quite ready to provide you with the experience you’d like, so just call us’,” Robinson says.


“Then the client’s been warned they’re not going to get a mobile experience.”


Marketing 4 Restaurants, meanwhile, is gearing up for the Advance Innovation Summit, after being selected for the Advance Innovation Program earlier this year.


Managing director James Eling is in San Francisco as he prepares for the company’s entry into the US market.


“I got here on Friday and have been conducting extensive research, which, for me, means going to a lot of restaurants and talking about how they do their marketing,” Eling told StartupSmart.


“It is a huge market here, so we plan to slice the market into individual states and conduct a trial marketing campaign in five states to see where we can get the early traction and then accelerate.


“We are looking to raise $500,000. We don’t really need the money – it is more about finding the right person or company to help us accelerate our global sales.”