06/20/2014 12:23 pm ET Updated Aug 20, 2014

How to Know When Your Business Needs a Mobile Website

As the amount of users accessing the internet through their mobile devices increases, it is becoming more important than ever for businesses to have an online presence that is optimized for mobile. However, for smaller businesses that may not have the budget, it can sometimes be a large investment that is difficult to make. In order to ensure that your business gets the most return on investment possible from a mobile optimized website, you need to understand whether or not users are actually coming to your website from mobile devices.

The first and best way to know what devices users are coming from is to look at your website's analytics. If you are using Google Analytics, a great way to quickly see this is to go to "All Traffic" and change the primary dimension to "Mobile (Including Tablet)."

This will allow you to see just the traffic that is coming to your website from mobile devices. If the number constitutes a large percentage of your overall traffic, it makes sense to give your users the best experience possible and make the investment in a mobile version. Not only will it allow users to have an easier time navigating your business' website, it will also allow them to more easily complete a goal on your website like buying a product or service right on their mobile device. This makes it easier for your audience to convert with your business as it doesn't force them to come back on a desktop.

Another great way to understand if you need a mobile website is to look at your "bounce rate." If you have a lot of traffic coming to your website from mobile devices but they aren't "bouncing," or immediately leaving after looking at one page, chances are they can use your existing website on their mobile device with at least some success. If you notice that the bounce rate is north of 50 or 60 percent, there is a good chance that users find your website too difficult to navigate on their mobile devices, and are leaving immediately. If this is the case, your website is missing out on valuable traffic that could boost your online sales and it would make sense to invest in a better experience for your mobile users so that they can complete goals on your site.

If you are a new online business with limited incoming traffic to your website but have ongoing email marketing efforts, another interesting strategy to consider when investing in a mobile website is to look at what devices your email list is opening your emails on. This strategy isn't as accurate as looking at your website's analytics, but if you use a mail delivery service like Mailchimp you can understand where your target audience is. If you notice that large percentages of your email lists are opening your emails on mobile devices like iPhones or Androids, it would stand to reason that you would want them to have a seamless transition to an optimized mobile website -- particularly if you are asking your email recipients to go directly from an email to your website. This data will help businesses that don't have high enough levels of traffic to fully understand what devices their audience is coming from, but should only be used when hard data is not available.

Understanding whether or not a mobile version will actually help your users is an important thing to consider before investing in it. However, even with few mobile users coming to your website, having a mobile version can still be helpful. Particularly with Google's organic search algorithm giving ranking preference to websites that are optimized for mobile devices over those that don't, there is real value to adding a mobile version to a website. Even if users aren't coming to your website right now from mobile devices, they certainly will be in the next couple of years, with estimates of mobile internet traffic only projected to increase. Adding a mobile optimized responsive website or mobile version of your website is a must for any business to purchase at some point, but understanding what short term value it will have for your customers will help to make sure that the ROI your business gets from adding this functionality is as much as possible.