2012 has been continually claimed as the “year of mobile.” After four (arguably five if you count the 4S) generations of iPhone, three generations of iPad and numerous generations of Android smartphones and tablets, you would think it’s safe to say this is a trend well worth creating a dedicated content and marketing strategy for.

However, two very recent studies illustrate that global companies are at best in the early stages of developing a mobile website or mobile content marketing strategy. Magus recently conducted a study in conjunction with Investis, entitled “How Mobile-Ready Is the FTSE100?” The study found that only 20% of corporate websites surveyed currently provide support for mobile devices on their websites.

These findings are corroborated by another study, called “Mobile Marketing: Plans, Trends and Measurability” by King Fish Media. This survey suggests that most companies are still in the process of gearing up for the trend, with only a third of the 563 companies surveyed having an active mobile strategy. This demonstrates that the field is still very much open for companies to claim the mobile space.

However, the study also indicates that this trend is set for a rapid rise, with a further 62% of companies planning to launch a mobile site over the next 12 months.

All of these figures suggest that digital communications are on the cusp of a sea change. But what lessons can the companies that are still gearing up learn from the mobile pioneers? Firstly, before launching a mobile website, it’s critically important to have both a good marketing and content quality strategy for the mobile channel to ensure you launch a mobile site that supports your content and marketing goals.

Mobile Content Strategy Lacks Consistency

The Magus / Investis study found that even those businesses at the forefront of mobile site provision are challenged with delivering them well. For example, 65% of the FTSE100 companies that do have mobile websites are failing to use any sort of device detection technology. This means that, for a very large number of mobile users, their valuable mobile content will go unseen.

Further, those same mobile sites are suffering from an average of more than four mobile content compliance and usability issues per page. According to an annual study done by Bango, the average number of mobile page views per visitor is five. That means that the average visitor is experiencing up to 20 content compliance or usability issues per visit.

This is born out by other research, which suggests that mobile websites are delivering less satisfaction than traditional desktop counterparts. Statistics from ForeSee report that consumers give mobile sites an average score of just 66 out of 100 -- as compared with an average of 71 for desktop sites.

In short, it’s one thing to launch a mobile site, but if marketers fail to deliver a high quality user experience, they will have failed before they’ve even begun.

The Huge Opportunity

The business case for developing a dedicated mobile website is strong. Recent research from Aberdeen Group has shown that companies that optimize their websites for mobile devices outperform those that don’t by 80% in terms of increased web traffic. Additionally, these companies achieve a 55% greater increase in the number of repeat visitors.

Also consider that mobile now accounts for 10% of all UK sales for eBay. And, in the United States, content marketing across mobile channels generated more than $39 billion in revenue for businesses in 2011.

The growth of mobile web usage from smartphones and other mobile devices is steadily increasing. According to Google, 69% of American smartphone owners now access the mobile web at least once per day. When you consider that the everyday desktop web access is at 80%, you can see that there isn’t much further to grow until the mobile web is just as, or even more, important a content platform for business.

Haste vs. Speed

The mobile web is growing at incredible speed. The relationships that consumers have with their smartphones and other mobile devices are deepening. The ability to publish mobile optimized content, and to become an intricate part of the consumer-device relationship, may be the biggest new opportunity for marketers to come along in years. But to take full advantage of this trend companies need to do more than just “show up.”

As Al Loehnis, Business Development Director for Investis (and Magus’ partner in the study) said: “it’s clear from this survey that the needs of mobile visitors are not being met by some of the largest corporations in the world. The field remains very much open for companies to become leaders in this area.”

Companies need to be in a position to provide a consistent, high quality user experience across their digital channels. This means taking advantage of the mobile-specific technical, usability and accessibility standards that are already available -- and combining them with multi-channel quality monitoring to ensure quality standards are consistent across digital environments. The companies that use these methods will see the quickest improvement in their user experience -- and as a result will reap the greatest business benefits.

The implication for marketers is that they need to think hard about managing both the relevance of their mobile content and, perhaps even more importantly, the quality of the mobile web experience. That will ultimately be what separates successful use of the mobile channel from failure.

Editor's Note: You may also be interested in reading: