Industrial Marketing Blog

The ROI of Marketing: How to Sell Management on Responsive Design

Posted by Brian Shanahan on Feb 23, 2015, 6:48:18 PM

Responsive web design allows for creating websites that adjust themselves to the device that's used to view them. From the view of those responsible for actually maintaining the site, it's clear to see the benefits of only needing to maintain a single site, regardless of who's looking at it.


Ultimately, it's up to a decision-makers within your company to decide whether or not to go forward with a responsive web design. This article is intended to arm you with compelling reasons and tactics that you can use to convince them of the value of responsive web design and the ROI of marketing.

Everyone Has Gone Mobile

Statistics are always helpful, so let's look at some major trends within the industry.

As noted by the Pew Internet Research Project, mobile usage is on the rise - more than 58% of adults own and use a smartphone, while 42% have a tablet computer. In fact, more than a third of all users consider their smartphone to be their primary way of accessing content online, and the number of mobile users is expected to continue growing over time.

However, this also presents a challenge for businesses and marketers - especially those who haven't adequately developed a mobile experience for their users. It's extremely common for people to use one or more mobile devices while watching television, for example.

Sequential usage of devices - that is, setting one device down only to immediately pick up another - is also quite prominent. Roughly ninety percent of people with multiple devices will use a combination of them to accomplish a given task, often on the same day they begin.

Action Plan: Presenting independent verification of trends sets the stage for your discussion. The goal is to help your decision-maker understand the changes in the marketing landscape and the challenges that this could represent for the business.

Smartphones, Tablets, and Desktops

As part of our study on user behavior, we looked at a number of profiles to see how mobile behavior and usage was impacted by the presence of a responsive website design. We aimed for a full snapshot of the industry - B2C, B2B, services, and products - but the main behavioral trends were similar in all areas.

Notably, behavior on tablets is a lot like behavior on desktops - many users simply see tablets as a better form of laptop and act accordingly. The important thing to keep in mind is that tablets should not be lumped together into the "mobile audience" - rather, smartphones should be treated as a separate audience.

Action Plan: Go into the analytics data for your own website and pull the numbers on mobile performance. This evidence can be extremely compelling to any decision-maker.

Making Things Better for Users, Site Managers, and Search Engines

Better for Users

Viewing a web page meant for a desktop on any mobile device is frustrating at best - something designed for 15" or more can suddenly be compacted to 5", rendering it practically unreadable. This is a major contributing factor to high bounce rates and diminished conversions.

Outside of the user friendliness and navigational concerns, think about the message being sent to readers when they see you haven't taken the time to implement responsive web design. It's not a very happy statement, is it?

Action Plan: After making sure the site really does stink on smartphones, ask your decision-maker to take out their own device and try navigating the site. As they struggle, point out how many users are asked to do this on a daily basis.  In addition, take a look at your competitors, are they operating responsive sites?

Better for Site Managers

When time is money, a responsive web design means less maintenance and more time spent improving your content. Having a separate mobile site quite literally doubles the amount of time, money, and effort you have to spend, and that's simply too impractical in this day and age.

For example, when you're using a mobile site that's separate from your main one, you'll need to have two sets of every data file - and that increases the chances that you'll show inconsistent information. You might forget to update one of the sites with a new promotion, fail to showcase a new product, or otherwise find yourself less than totally pleasing to your visitors.

Action Plan: If your current mobile site is frequently updated, explain the switch to responsive web design as a way of saving money. If it's not updated often, show your decision-maker the inconsistencies between them.

Better for Search Engines

Google flat-out recommends using responsive web design. Why?

  • Using a single HTML makes it easier for users to link between different types of content, without worrying about the devices involved.
  • Consistent URLs also help the search algorithm determine what pages to list in the rankings
  • No need for redirects means reduced load times, which has a real impact on a site's score
  • It's more efficient for Google to only need to crawl one version of a page. Better indexing means better results.

Microsoft's Bing search engine takes a similar position, and has recommended a "one URL for each item of content" strategy, which is most easily achieved when using responsive web design.

Action Plan: Highlight the way that following search engine guidelines increases your chance of ranking high in search results. If SEO is important to the company, responsive web design is an important tactic.

Responsive Design Is Not A Magic Solution

We have one final piece of advice for you before you go talk to your decision-maker:

Responsive websites, by themselves, do not guarantee increased performance from any source of mobile traffic. You need to consider things like:

  • Why are users accessing you from a smartphone instead of a tablet or a desktop?
  • Are they trying to view your site while on the move?
  • Do they need some kind of information quickly?
  • How important is location to what they're doing?
  • 20 things users want from a mobile website

About twenty percent of all searches have some kind of local intent. If this is the case for your visitors, you need to think about the needs and wants of your mobile users and craft an experience that meets their needs.

You'll also need to continue testing the responsive web design, analyzing its performance, and optimizing it for the best user experience. This will only happen through an ongoing commitment to completely understanding your audience and working to create an experience they'll enjoy.

Let's go over a recap of some of the important points to discuss when talking with your decision-maker:

  • About a third of all adults use their smartphone as their primary way of accessing content online
  • This number is expected to continue growing, making mobile users an even more powerful force
  • Most interactions with other mediums - like television - occur while someone is using a smartphone.

Responsive sites help with this by:

  • Saving time for content managers and website developers
  • Reducing the chance that you'll display inconsistent, inaccurate, or out-of-date information across different properties
  • Using a single URL, which helps to offer an improved user experience
  • Reducing the load times that result from mobile redirects
  • Being actively preferred by major search engines like Bing and Google
  • Delivering improved experience for landing pages used by SEM traffic
  • Being easier to analyze, optimize, and compare from one place in your analytics system

To learn more visit our other blog articles on the value of responsive web design or give us a call to discuss the ROI of marketing. 

25 Website Must Haves

Topics: Responsive Web Design, Marketing Strategy

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