Whether your business is big or small, mobile is an opportunity not to be missed.

When smartphone users start researching a new product, 90% aren't sure which brand they will choose. This offers an opportunity for businesses, especially small to medium ones, to capture business from consumers on the go.

Mobile represents a big part of that opportunity, as it’s where hundreds of billions of searches now happen each year. In 2015, UK internet users were spending nearly two hours per day utilising the internet on their mobile phone, twice as long as the time spent on their laptops and desktop computers. So how can small businesses like yours get in on the mobile action? Here’s a rundown of helpful tools that can help you build your mobile website, optimise it, and promote it.

Website-building tools

Research shows that 91% of smartphone users seek inspiration from mobile when they're in the middle of a task, so it's important your website is just as useful on a small screen as it is a big one. The inspiration that brings a user to your site can easily be lost if they have to deal with fiddly links and cumbersome zoom functions.

Building a responsive website that dynamically fits to a user’s display is much easier than it used to be. Today, there are lots of tools to help you build beautiful mobile-friendly sites without specialised technical knowledge.

One choice for quickly setting up a website is WordPress. The popular platform allows you to get the right look for your website by selecting from a range of free or paid themes- just make sure you select one which is mobile optimised.

Other options include Strikingly, Squarespace, Weebly and Wix. Each provides an interface for creating customisable websites that are mobile-responsive from the beginning. Plugins to integrate payment services are also available, offering a mobile-friendly way to sell to customers on the go.

Mobile optimisation tools

Screens and browsers can vary widely from device to device, so if your site displays perfectly on one phone, that doesn't necessarily mean it looks as great on all other handheld devices. So after your website is built, it's important to test it to make sure it's fully optimised for mobile.

Google Test My Site

Get started by exploring Google's guidelines to help you get your mobile site search-ready. The recently launched Test My Site tool also has tips on how to improve mobile performance by doing the technical review of your website. After sifting through the code on your website, the tool gives you an analysis of your website and returns a checklist of ways to enhance your mobile responsiveness.

Mobile marketing tools

Now that your website is ready to go, it's time to make sure customers can find you when they search. A business listing on Google My Business integrates your website with Google's range of services and can improve your visibility on applications such as Google Maps and Google Search.

If you’re using an online ad service like AdWords, Adwords' location extension offers the ability to target ads to people close by (and probably on their mobile) who are looking for your products or services. For example, if you run a 24-hour restaurant in Manchester, you can reach somebody searching for "late night dining" in your neighbourhood at just the right moment with a search ad.

Another place to promote your business on mobile is on review-based sites or apps. Listing your business on Yelp, for example, can increase your visibility to the those who regularly use the Yelp mobile app to help inform their consumer choices when out and about.

Given that UK users now spend more time browsing the web through their smartphones than via their personal computers, a mobile-friendly website is a vital business tool. Whether you're looking to grow online, enter the digital space for the first time or up your game on the web, remember to always think mobile first.

Register for free and access all of the Digital Garage's lessons on mobile and mobile apps.