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In the not-too-distant past, people depended on their computers to find out all they thought they needed to know. Each morning, they cranked up the desktop to take a quick look at everything from breaking news to baseball box scores to Facebook updates. And when they were away from home, they dutifully lugged their laptops along with them so they could keep up with what was happening in their world and around the world.

Cell phones, for the most part, were good for meaty or less-than-meaningful conversations with friends, family members and business associates. They were convenient and they were cool, but they weren’t indispensable.

A Billion and Counting

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That, of course, has changed, and in a big way. Drop by the local coffee shop, walk through your favorite restaurant, take a ride on a train or bus or even look around you when you’re stopped in traffic: many of the people you see will be using their smartphones for one task or another. In today’s ever-shrinking mobile world, more than half of the 337 million cell phones in the United States are smartphones. Around the globe, according to techcrunch.com, the number of smartphones has soared beyond the 1 billion mark, and, within three years, another billion are expected to go online. In addition, planet Earth is home to 75 million tablet users.

Many people, especially those who aren’t old enough to remember Vietnam and all four Beatles, no longer use desktops or laptops. They check their email, use Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest and handle banking transactions with their smartphones and tablets. And, most importantly to businesses trying to get their message out to as many potential customers as possible for the least amount of money necessary, people in increasing numbers are using their mobile devices and nothing else to surf the internet and shop online.

Hordes of Potential Customers

That’s why, if you’re in business to make money, it’s an excellent idea to launch a mobile site and make sure these hordes of potential customers can get to it easily and use it without a great deal of difficulty. According to a recent survey by Prosper Mobile Insights, 69.3 percent of mobile users never employ a desktop or laptop computer for at least one Web-based activity, while more than a quarter of them do all their online shopping with either a smartphone or a tablet.

Two Different Animals

Keep in mind that your regular website and your mobile site are two different animals, or at least they should be. The former can be as flashy and as exciting as you want it to be. Go ahead and impress people with your innovation and creative talents – or, rather, those of your web designer. But while you might want to show off with your regular site, remember that traditional sites are designed to be viewed on a large computer screen, not on a device small enough to fit in your pocket or hang snugly on your hip.

Your mobile site needs to be a simpler, more user-friendly version of your sales pitch. Get rid of the pop-ups and extra windows if you can, and do away with some of the graphics, text and menus you use on your regular site. Enticing and attractive images are great for your regular site, but keep in mind that the main job of your mobile site is to give people basic information about the products and services you offer.

For instance, if they’re driving around looking for an Italian restaurant, a sporting goods store or a good place to buy a camera, all you want to do is get their attention and convince them to come by and give you a try. Plus, it helps that mobile-friendly websites earn higher mobile search engine rankings.

As Simple As Possible

The idea is to make it as easy as possible for people to work their way to and through your site on a screen that might be, say, one-thirtieth the size of a standard computer monitor. Make sure the links are as few and as large they can be; it can be difficult, especially for those millions of new smartphone users, to hit links that are too close together or too small to see without a magnifying glass.

Even if you’re already convinced that your regular site and mobile site should be different, don’t forget that your potential customers might want to see both. It’s entirely possible that they’ll discover you on their smart phone and come back for a second or third look on a tablet or a computer, so make sure you link your mobile site to your regular site.

Regardless of what business you are in, you are fighting to grab the attention of as many potential customers as you can. Shouldn’t you be waging this battle for business with the most up-to-date weapons at your disposal?

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Posted by Christopher Wallace

Christopher Wallace is Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Amsterdam Printing, a leading provider of marketing pens and other promotional products such as imprinted clothing, mugs and customized calendars. Christopher regularly contributes to Promo & Marketing Wall blog.

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