The importance of the mobile web for Gulf-based businesses

Remember the good old days, when mobiles were there only for making or receiving calls? Forget them, and start thinking mobile web sites and more business (image source: tandemdigital.co.uk)

It’s official! The UAE is again a world leader, but this time in smartphone penetration. Seventy four percent of UAE residents carry a big, bad smartphone in their hands (some of us have two of them on the go at a time). Saudi Arabia is third, with seventy three percent of people carrying mobile devices according to research conducted by Google for its ‘Our Global Planet’ project.

The good people at UAE-based PR agency Spot On PR have summarized the findings for the UAE and you can do the same by going to Google’s website and customizing your query. What’s most striking is local behaviours. Have a look below.

Have a look at the frequency of local searches and look at the growth from 2012 to 2013

Have a look at the frequency of local searches and look at the growth from 2012 to 2013

Actions taken after Local Search in Saudi Arabia in 2012 and 2013 across all age ranges and gender types

Actions taken after Local Search in Saudi Arabia in 2012 and 2013 across all age ranges and gender types

What is strikingly obvious from both of the graphs above is that local search is now essential to local businesses. And yet, we’re still pretty awful when it comes to developing websites for mobile browsers.

So how do you change this? The first piece of news is pretty obvious. Go and get a website (it’s amazing how many businesses still don’t have sites in this part of the world). Secondly, if you’re not sure about how mobile-friendly your website is then test it using a tool such as W3C’s Mobile Ok Checker. These will be able to tell you what you’re doing right and what you’re getting wrong when it comes to rendering or displaying your site on a mobile browser.

If you’re stuck on how to develop a website that renders well on mobile browsers why don’t you consider using a content management system such as WordPress. WordPress has website styles that automatically adapt or respond to different browser types. WordPress is free and you don’t need to even pay hosting fees if you use WordPress’ own servers.

Even if you have a mobile-friendly website remember to use back-end analytics programmes from Google or other providers to better understand what your customers are doing on your website and what you can do to improve their experience. If you’re looking for more advice on what you should be doing to generate business from mobile have a look at this crib sheet for mobile e-marketing by local developer Saad Bhatti or get in touch with the good people at Spot On. But the general message is, do more on mobile!

One thought on “The importance of the mobile web for Gulf-based businesses

  1. Thanks for the mention Alex! We always enjoy reading your blog! There’s so much interesting behavioural data in this Google report. Many people in marketing have been waiting year-by-year for ‘the year of mobile’ in the region, but reports like this show that mobile users haven’t waited, they’re very much online and it’s up to us marketers to figure out how to communicate with them appropriately. Time for brands to get off the fence!

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