Hey enterprise software startups: Ignore the mobile web at your peril by Roger Lee @FortuneMagazine October 31, 2014, 12:14 PM EDT E-mail Tweet Facebook Google Plus Linkedin Share icons It’s no secret that today’s enterprise software entrepreneurs must start out mobile, before later dealing with the desktop. And while it’s always preferable to access a product via a company-specific app, that doesn’t mean entrepreneurs should ignore the mobile web. The mobile web may account for just 14% of consumers’ time spent on mobile devices, but that time is mostly consumed by pointed, purposeful searches for specific information. One-third of organic web searches now originate from mobile devices, and that number will soon pass 50%, according to several studies. Yet many enterprise software companies put little thought into how their websites perform for users on mobile devices. Research done by our firm, BrightEdge, shows 72% of websites encounter issues when accessed by mobile devices – and this includes websites that are supposedly ‘optimized’ for mobile. There’s an analogy here. Let’s say your company is planning to do business in China, where much of the population does not read or speak English. You wouldn’t target that audience with an English-only website or product. And yet that’s exactly what many leading brands are doing when it comes to mobile — offering up an experience that is completely foreign for their mobile users. To ensure you’re taking the right steps to master the mobile web, here are four key strategies to get you started: Get found: To ensure your mobile content is getting in front of the right people, you first need to understand demand. In today’s marketing landscape, targeting demand is less of an art and more of a science. Use data to identify the target categories of largest demand and low competition to create the right content. Also, dig into data to identify high-value keywords that rank for paid and organic search on mobile devices. By using both historical and real-time data, today’s marketers can get invaluable insights into demand that, when applied to your mobile strategy, can maximize traffic and engagement. Keep mobile visitors engaged: For mobile and desktop alike, optimizing content for performance is critical. Guessing what mobile content will work best for converting visitors into loyal, credit cards swiping customers is an exercise in wasted resources. Don’t fall into this trap. Instead dig into user data to determine demand and better understand what mobile users are looking for. You’ll likely find that mobile users perform different searches and have different content expectations on mobile vs. desktop vs. tablet. For example, in the retail industry, desktop users are more likely to visit a store’s website to make a purchase, whereas mobile users are often looking for the location or hours of the local storefront. Once you’ve identified mobile user needs, tailor the mobile-optimized web page to reflect those insights. If it’s easier for them to find exactly what they need, you’re more likely to keep those visitors engaged and happy, leading to return visits and sales. The mobile web can pinch hit for an app: If your enterprise software company doesn’t yet have a mobile app, make sure mobile users can access your product via a mobile-optimized website. It’s preferable to have an app — because users will expect it — but if you don’t have one, the mobile web can serve as a placeholder. Make it super easy for mobile users to log into their accounts from the mobile-web homepage, and then build a mobile-optimized interface that lets them perform key functions. One size does not fit all: There’s an evolution occurring today in the way brands approach mobile. Many are finding that, increasingly, mobile isn’t a one-size-fits-all situation. When choosing a configuration strategy, brands are experimenting with elements of both responsive and dynamic design, mixing and matching to find the highest performing strategy. BrightEdge data shows that all mobile configurations rank about the same for a given keyword if implemented correctly. Carefully choose which mobile configurations work best for specific sections of your website and consider that it might be a mix of more than one strategy. For example, many brands have found that a responsive site works best when they mix in dynamic serving of content on their most important pages. In today’s enterprise software market, the mobile web plays second fiddle to mobile apps, but that doesn’t mean you should forget it exists. As an entrepreneur bent on building the next billion-dollar enterprise software company, there are no shortcuts. When it comes to mobile, that means building a killer mobile app and nailing the mobile web. Roger Lee is a general partner at Battery Ventures, where he regularly blogs at the Powered by Battery site. Jim Yu is the CEO of search-engine optimization firm BrightEdge, which is a Battery portfolio company.