The Star (Nairobi)

31 January 2013

Kenya: Companies Need to Adapt to the Mobile Internet

According to the CCK there are nearly 14 people using the internet in Kenya today. This means that more than half of all adults in Kenya access the internet regularly. Just over 90 per cent of these use their mobile phones to do so.

According to stat counter a global source for mobile data, android and series 40 operating systems grew the fastest with the two doubling in usage in the last twelve months.

These two systems are designed for web and mobile app experiences and the rapid uptake of the internet is thus no surprise. What is a surprise though is the slow pace of adopting the mobile internet as a marketing medium.

While consumers have adopted the net, marketing has been slow in following consumers. While many will assume that the desktop sites they update every six months may still do for these audiences, they need to think about how consumers on mobile access information.

For starters, few consumers want to view your company chairman's statement to shareholders. Consumers on mobile will probably access your site through a search engine and possibly while looking for very specific information.

The search may originate from a product or brand name search and result in a landing on your website. The mobile internet consumer also spends less time on your site than does one surfing on desk top.

They are likely to exhibit "snacking" behaviour and has less typing space than a desktop user. The layout and arrangement of information thus has to take this into account.

Minimise the amount of time it takes for this consumer to find what they are looking for. Even more challenging for this consumer is the fact that they pay to access your site.

Heavy data usage while surfing your site will often discourage them or create unsatisfactory surfing experiences. The above possibly demonstrate why your current desktop site may be ill suited for mobile users.

It will make sense for companies to spend some time understanding what sort of information their consumers are seeking and consuming on mobile and then design mobile approaches built on this.

The diversity of solutions available will surprise many. Regular and repeat users will find apps more appealing while infrequent visitors will find a decent web experience useful.

The possibility to trade on mobile web will also provide business incentive. Trying to complete a transaction on desktop site on mobile can be frustrating.

The need to access secure sites in this process can create headaches for users especially where this experience is not designed for the mobile phone.

Providing free access to your site can also greatly enhance its usage. The need to pay for information via bandwidth costs may discourage consumers from visiting a company site.

Companies can go around this by either providing incentives or free access. All in all the mobile web is likely the fastest growing medium today and soon enough we will have no choice but to adopt it.

Frank is lead consultant at FMC and CEO at mobile agency Sponge.

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