Creating a small-screen version of your business website just doesn’t cut it, a Google Canada marketing executive warned on Thursday.

Instead, companies need to think outside the box – or more precisely, outside the small, rectangular screen on smartphones, said Adam Green, agency lead at Google Canada.

“(Mobile) is more than crappy, tiny rectangles,” Green told the FFWD Advertising and Marketing Week conference in Toronto. “We tend to think of mobile phones as little computers. That tendency is a trap. (A mobile phone) is a totally different entity.”

Rather than cloning their website for a smaller rectangular screen, Green said companies should consider the features available on mobile devices: camera, browser, GPS, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, temperature gauge, microphone, speaker, keyboard, and so on.

“Take advantage of the hardware’s capabilities,” he advised the audience.

According to Green, that means creatively utilizing mobile device features to help solve your customers’ problems or make their lives easier.

Green described how various companies have executed this approach effectively. In one example, Office Depot dramatically reduced checkout lineups by enabling mobile point-of-sale on the smartphone of every staff member in the store.

Green also recommended harnessing mobile device functionality to create innovative, unique marketing experiences. He cited a mobile ad campaign created by Audi to promote its A3 Cabriolet car last year.

The ads utilized the geolocation and live weather data features on smartphones. In sunny locations, the ads suggested it was the perfect day to test drive the A3 with the top down. In rainy areas, phone users saw an ad forecasting the next sunny day when they might want to book a test drive instead. All the ads included the address of the nearest Audi dealership based on the phone user’s real-time location.

Companies that fail to tap into mobile leave a lot of potential business on the table. Almost half of Canadian Internet use now takes place on mobile devices, according to figures released by comScore in November.

Businesses that have already gone mobile still risk paying a high price for poor execution. Green pointed to Google research showing that 57 per cent of users won’t recommend a business with a poorly designed mobile site and 40 per cent have turned to a competitor’s site after a bad mobile experience.

Another study by Accenture painted a good news, bad news picture when it came out last April. Eighty-five per cent of Canadian enterprise-level companies have adopted mobile technologies, topping the global average of just 69 per cent. But only 31 per cent of Canadian firms said their CEO is directly involved in mobile strategy, just below the global average of 39 per cent.

In a statement released with the report, Accenture Canada said, “CEOs need to become more engaged in creating and implementing their digital strategies with their IT teams. The entire business strategy must be fully aligned and integrated in order to fully take advantage of digital technologies.

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