[Ed. note: The following is a guest article written for Local U by Matt Marko of Progressive Insurance.]
Many local businesses aren't sure where to focus first with their online marketing, and insurance agencies are no exception. New research suggests that mobile optimization should be near the top of every small business' priority list.
A newly released consumer study by Nielsen, xAd and Telmetrics reveals that as of 2013, a whopping 50 percent of insurance shoppers start their research on their mobile device.
Further, according to a 2012 Google study:
Users will keep looking for a mobile-friendly site until they find one that works for them. That means your competitors will benefit if your site falls down on the job (and vice versa).
- 61 percent of users said that if they didn't find what they were looking for right away on a mobile site, they'd quickly move on to another site
- 79 percent of people who don't like what they find on one site will go back and search for another site
- 50 percent of people said that even if they like a business, they will use them less often if the website isn't mobile-friendly
Clearly, having a mobile-optimized website is essential for small businesses. So, how are insurance agencies doing when it comes to mobile-optimization of their websites?
At Progressive® Insurance, we recently surveyed 949 insurance agencies to better understand how they are doing with mobile. The data revealed that 77 percent of surveyed agencies have a website today and 64 percent of agencies with a website believe their website is optimized for mobile viewing. We decided to dig deeper with an additional audit and found from a sampling of 100 insurance agency websites, only about one in six insurance agencies (17 percent) actually have a mobile optimized website. This reveals a significant gap between understanding and reality; insurance agents are overestimating the capabilities of their websites.
Interestingly, only slightly more than half of agencies with websites say that they've actually visited their website on a smartphone -- perhaps the most obvious place to start in understanding if a site is optimized or not.
But a larger issue may be a fundamental misunderstanding between what it means for a site to be mobile-compatible versus mobile-optimized. Most websites today are mobile-compatible, meaning that the site meets the basic standard of not containing Flash and therefore being viewable on a smartphone or tablet. In contrast, a mobile-optimized website is a website that is designed specifically for a smartphone or a tablet, not a desktop computer or laptop.
Some of the key differences between mobile-compatible and mobile-optimized sites include:
* Takes long time to load
* Viewable in one direction
* Small, difficult to click links
* Text is difficult to read
* Requires scrolling
* Optimized for mobile data speeds
* Viewable in landscape and portrait
* Big finger-friendly buttons
* Text is large and readable
* Fits screen dimensions
If you are an insurance agency or local small business looking to establish your online presence, there may be no better place to start than by ensuring you have a mobile-optimized website.
About Matt Marko
Matt Marko is a Product Manager at Progressive Insurance who has spent the last six years working to help Progressive's more than 35,000 independent insurance appointed agencies grow their business using both online and offline marketing strategies.
(Top photo by Vernon Chan and used under Creative Commons license.)