This week, our very own Angie Schottmuller will be speaking at the annual Zenith Social Media Conference in Duluth. We sat down with her to ask her three questions about her session Thursday morning: The Incredible-Edible Social-Mobile Revolution.

Mobile Actions for Marketers

Diane: If there is one thing marketer's can do for mobile, what would it be?

Angie: The top 2 actions taken on mobile are placing a phone call and finding the nearest location. In response to those needs, a marketer should position the business' phone number (including the area code) and office hours (with correct timezone) in the top right corner of your website. It's also important for brick and mortar locations to also include a link to directions to the location.

Most smartphones will now render a phone number as a hyperlink from the website, enabling mobile visitors to call your business instantly. However, with international phone numbers, this can be a problem. It would be ideal if you can use simple CSS to stylize the hyperlink for the phone number, creating a standout call-to-action for the visitor, and generating good traffic.

Author's Note: Discover more about CSS stylings in Angie's recent Conversion Optimization presentation 

What if my business doesn't have a mobile website?

Diane: What if a business doesn't have the finances to invest in a mobile website, or they have one planned rolling out soon, what can they do?

Angie: There are other content opportunities that can be leveraged from a lead generation and engagement standpoint. These can include embedding videos, Slideshare presentations, and sometimes, photo galleries. There are many WordPress plugins that can be optimized to be mobile friendly. Tools such as Fit Vids and Fit Text require just four little scripts to get moving easily and help your business accelerate the transition to mobile. These tools already include expected mobile behaviors such as swipe gestures. If you also have a blog on your website, you can consider plugins such as WP Touch for an instant mobile usability for the website. It's ready in less than 15 minutes.

Author's Note: If you're interested in more mobile tips, check out Angie's Mobile Marketing Conversion Optimization tips. 

Another thing businesses can do is employ QR codes in your business at appropriate spots, such as cashier spots, or on menus at your restaurant. Include links to social media for customers to leave reviews while they're still at your business.

Apps vs. Mobile Sites

Diane: What's your advice on building a mobile app versus developing a mobile website?

Mobile Apps

Angie: The reality is that the vast majority of online users would not be able to distinguish an official app from a mobile-optimized website. For example, Facebook actually made their app identical to their mobile web experience. When you build a mobile app, it's a staged process. You'll have to ask users to go to their app store, which can be a barrier to conversion. You'll also have to develop the app for a variety of platforms, Android, iOS, Windows, etc. Not to mention, the platforms are constantly evolving and changing, forcing you to keep up with Ice Cream Sandwich and iOS 6, all while still serving the small population of those that download your app. In most cases, I'd recommend using a mobile-optimized website with responsive design and HTML5.

The Case for a Mobile App

There are a few key qualifiers I use in justifying the case for a mobile app. These include:

  • Large amounts of data required for complex tasks: An example might be a home improvement visualization tool in which a homeowner uploads a photo and the app renders possible home improvements
  • Data needed for offline use: With HTML5, there are cases in which the content can be provided offline, but there are still some cases or platform exceptions
  • Integration with phone features: If your functions require integrating with the camera, contacts, GPS or mapping, it's best to consider an app

If those qualifiers do not apply to your website, there is usually better ROI investing in a responsive design website that benefits all and not just a select group of users who downloaded the app.

If you have more questions about mobile optimization, we encourage you to contact us or check out Angie's #Zenith2013 presentation tomorrow!