Mobile: The Time Is … Two or Three Years Ago!

Screen Shot 2014-08-06 at 8.00.27 AMA few months ago, I did a little tour of the websites of very well-known, well-funded arts and live entertainment organizations. The point of my little tour was to find out how a representative slice of the amply funded part of the business was handling the transition to mobile use among competitors. The result, as you can read, was so-so. About half of the sites were just the regular old websites, which the user’s expected to pinch down to readable size.

The bottom line is that in 2014, this is just not acceptable.

Actually, I take it back. It’s perfectly fine as long as you don’t actually expect anyone to use your mobile site. And especially if you have no interest in anyone buying from your site.

That’s basically the choice: Make your website something a mobile user will actually be able to use, or keep it the same and drive your traffic and commerce right into the ground.

Before you answer, think about one more thing. Users are still shifting to mobile. The transition started in earnest back in 2008, but it’s not over. It’s still moving in that direction. (Note I haven’t mentioned apps at all. That’s a big part of mobile, too.)

I’m going to share a graph that breaks down usage of Goldstar into two categories: mobile and non-mobile. We began investing seriously in mobile about two years ago. Before that, we had a fairly limited (but mobile-optimized) website. Since then, we’ve made continuous improvements on the mobile web, email and by developing apps. The chart below shows a transition from mobile traffic in the low teens to more than 60% last month.

image003You can see our first major investments paying off in October 2012. As soon as we facilitated a better experience for users, they moved to mobile in droves. Since then, we’ve gradually improved, and users have followed.

Now, bear in mind that our desktop experience has actually improved significantly in this time as well. In fact, we don’t have a “mobile” website and a “desktop” website. We just have a website that responds to the size of the user’s screen.

Notice, too, how the transition has accelerated recently. I had predicted that we’d bottom out at about 35% desktop usage eventually, but I was clearly wrong about that. With our app now taking off in popularity (and an Android version coming out later this year), that line is only headed in one direction for now.

I share this information because I want to encourage people to make these investments. Live entertainment faces a convenience gap that’s only heightened by a poor mobile experience. Yes, part of our job at Goldstar is to build tools that support the sale of our partner venues and producers, even, sometimes, when they can’t (or can’t yet) build them for themselves. But nevertheless, it’s time for these investments to be made.

If you have an existing audience and you build a mobile product that works well, they will follow you.

If you have an existing audience and you don’t build a mobile product that works well, they might go somewhere else.

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