99 Out of 100 FTSE Firms Fail Mobile Business Test

Despite the rapid take-up of smartphone and tablet mobile devices, a surge in m-commerce and the introduction of 4G, FTSE-100 companies are not mobile-ready and as a result are wasting millions of pounds on internet advertising by sending consumers to sites that do not work as users expect them to.  The fix is easy.

A comprehensive study into UK mobile business performance, by Incentivated, reveals a chasm between consumer behaviour and Britain’s top companies.  Incentivated employed the kind of rigour that consumers do when voting with their thumbs, and the reason why leading US brands are dominating the digital landscape as it mobilises.  UK and Europe no longer lead the way in mobile marketing.  The Americans follow the dollars and people are buying through mobile.

Each FTSE-100 company website was analysed and scored for mobile readiness based on three objective criteria as well as two subjective ones: whether a mobile search is automatically detected and directed to a mobile site (or served a meaningful responsive design); whether the page size is small enough to load quickly on a 2.5G or 3G network (i.e. an element of server-side responsiveness or ‘RESS’ to reduce payload); and whether the site is optimised to work across multiple mobile platforms such as Android, Windows and Blackberry rather than just iPhone alone.  (Minor UX issues, like hiding the URL bar to release more space for content, have been ignored in this analysis.)

The subjective criteria included: whether the site contained useful content or was just a blog or similar short-form content such as a list of links to un-optimised desktop content, and whether there was branding in place.  Mobile real estate is just as valuable as anything else and some businesses have shown that a small screen-size is no limit to creativity.

The tests revealed (full detail of the research findings available on request):

•    69 of FTSE 100 firms are not optimised for mobile at all

•    22 have had a go but scored badly

•    Only eight score moderately well but frankly are inadequate

•    Only one (M&S) stood out, scoring four out of five

Yet it’s so easy to obtain a score of four or even five out of five.  You have to look outside the FTSE-100, to publishers and smaller businesses (e.g. Gatwick Airport) or to American businesses to find scores of four to five.  In comparison US brands, a handful of global brands get it all right; businesses such as Amazon, Ebay, Twitter, Remington etc.  (That said, businesses like Samsung and Microsoft only score slightly better than average and Apple still refuses to play ball at all, but maybe you don’t need to when people are falling over themselves to buy your product.)

Surprising results included ARM (the designer of chips that power most mobile phones) and WPP (world’s largest marketing services business); both of which scored poorly.

Examples of failings by type

    Category                         Company         Commentary
                                                     What can you say - a
    No mobile site                   Legal & General missed opportunity.
                                                     This retailer has been
                                                     left behind by the entire
                                                     sector and will be
                                                     missing out on sales.
                                                     Evidence is clear that
    Mobile site not accessible from                  consumers buy through
    or presented through the                         sites more than they do
    www. URL (i.e. difficult                         through apps (Next has a
    to find via search)              Next            good app).
                                                     In CRH's case the home
                                                     page is >4mb (could take
                                                     several minutes to
                                                     download on 3G and even
    Page file size too large         CRH             longer on GPRS).
                                                     Technical issues prevent
                                                     content working on most
                                                     devices, including
    Technical issues                 Babcock         iPhone.
                                                     Looks like it was built
    Poor or no branding              ARM             ten years ago.
                                                     Professional services
                                                     firms rarely practise
    Poor or no content               WPP             what they preach.
                                                     Clicking on most of the
                                                     content links takes you
                                                     to the (non mobilised)
    Veneer of mobilisation           Aviva           desktop site.

Localisation has not been tested, i.e. we have assumed the user is UK based even though many of these businesses have global reach.

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