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Responsive Web Design’s Crucial Role in Marketing

Thursday, November 08, 2012

Entering my third hour of leaf raking and yard clean up the other day, I knew there had to be an easier way. No matter how many leaves I piled up on my tarp and pulled back to my compost pile, it felt like I wasn’t even making a dent. I had blisters on my hands from the rake, and my toes were nearing a state of frostbite usually reserved for times much deeper into our long winter season. I’d had enough.

Later that evening, vowing to make my life easier, I pulled out my trusty iPhone and loaded up the Google app. Visions of a clean yard devoid of leaves danced in my head as I tapped in “Most powerful walk behind leaf blower.” The first result had ad copy and a URL that had me feeling comfortable enough to click through and see what they had to offer. When the page loaded, though, I found myself squinting at a page that I’d expect to see from a desktop browsing experience, certainly not optimal for viewing from my phone. After some failed pinch zooming, I put down my phone in favor of my tablet and entered the same search. The site I visited before no longer appeared in the search results (for the same exact search!), and I was served with a completely different set of results – how frustrating!

I don’t need to continue on with the rest of that storyline, because quite frankly it doesn’t matter. What does matter is the end result. I didn’t buy – I couldn’t buy – from the first vendor I found because that company failed to serve me with content that was optimized for the device I was using.

Apparently, I’m not alone. According to research performed by Google, 90% of people use multiple screens sequentially to search before they take definitive action and engage with a company. Some of this is no doubt driven by the innate nature of humankind to utilize every resource available for any given task in hopes of achieving the optimal result. But I wonder how many opportunities were missed by companies who haven’t jumped on the responsive design bandwagon yet. How many sales fell through the cyber cracks besides my own personal experience in looking for a leaf blower?

Responsive web design is transforming the way companies connect with their prospects in this world of multiple screen use. By serving relevant content to users, packaged neatly in a design specific to their browser, an optimal user experience is created. The proven outcome is increased engagement, ultimately driving more customers to your business.

While the benefits of responsive web design are tremendous, the previously mentioned examples only scratch of the surface of how this concept is affecting marketing. Besides consumer usability benefits, these websites are also easier to manage from the marketer’s seat. Since we’re only dealing with one website, a singular analytics package can be installed to track traffic and conversion trends. Your link building strategy will also work across all versions of the site, and any paid search campaigns can be setup much more efficiently with the ability to use one URL for each page.

With the busy holiday season now nearly upon us, mobile search traffic will no doubt spike as people would much rather shop from the comfort of their couch instead of fighting crowded parking lots and department stores. The question is, will your website be able to capture and convert those visits into sales? Or will people be left looking for a better experience (and be able to find it) on your competitor’s site?

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