What the So-Called “Mobilegeddon” Tells Us About the State of Responsive Design

Last week, Google unrolled a new algorithm designed to deliver mobile users the best possible experience when searching for something on their phones.

Naturally, the marketing and design world called this phenomenon “mobilegeddon.”

The name is counter-intuitive. Google’s algorithm is actually more like an overdue dawn than a web-ending apocalypse.

Smartphones have been a main point of web access for years now. According to Pew research, 64% of Americans own smartphones and 10% have no other way to access the Internet.

So this change is a good thing for consumers. But it shows just how far companies have lagged when it comes to adapting to market trends.

A Slow Motion Surprise 

If Google had unrolled this algorithm when the first iPhone was released in 2007, this kind of panic would be warranted. But companies have had quite a few years to build responsive websites and adjust digital marketing channels accordingly.

Even back in 2012, research showed that almost three-quarters of consumers wanted mobile-friendly websites.

In many cases, that still hasn’t happened. Marketing firm Merkle/RKG found that, as of April:

  • 46% of Fortune 500 companies haven’t received Google’s “mobile-friendly designation”
  • 29% of the top 500 retail stores haven’t received Google’s “mobile-friendly designation”

The Motley Fool concluded that, because of this slow adoption curve, Google risks “alienating” some of the top websites.

That’s assuming customers stay on websites that aren’t mobile-friendly. Most won’t. Google research found that 61% of customers will bounce from a website that isn’t responsive.

It’s important to remember that this new algorithm is only affecting mobile searches. If people weren’t buying from your website via mobile devices, then it won’t necessarily hurt the business.

The State of Responsive Email

Responsive emails are in a similar situation. Even though 42% of consumers say they’ll delete emails that aren’t responsive, findings from Salesforce found that the same number – 42% – of marketers rarely or never design responsive emails.

Looks like it’s an old-fashioned inbox-off.

Google’s mobilegeddon should be a warning sign that marketers need to work harder to keep up with consumer behavior. For years, studies have been coming out about how responsive design is critical to keeping customers engaged.

Now, brands are being forced to acknowledge that reality.

The same goes for the inbox. Emails that aren’t responsive simply aren’t as effective, especially when so many people are opening emails from mobile devices first and foremost.

Webinar_BuildNextGen_Newsletter_FeatureHeroReady to start getting responsive? Register for our webinar with Litmus tomorrow, 4/30, @ 1pm EST, “How to Build Next Generation Responsive Emails.” 

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