Take a look around the next time you walk down the street, connect with local entrepreneurs at the coffee shop or enjoy the view at 35,000 feet while flying to your next meeting – the mobility era has arrived.
“Mobile is a lifestyle, not a device” … and as such a “truly mobile lifestyle creates new contexts that demand new solutions,” according to design consultancy Punchcut. At this intersection of evolving consumer lifestyles and increased demand for mobile solutions lies the dawn of a mobile revolution – an inevitability that your business cannot ignore.
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The Business Impact of a Mobile Revolution
A revolution by definition brings about fundamental change. Consumer lifestyle changes, fueled by social mobility and technological innovation, have done precisely so. As a result the mobility market has cast a long shadow across communication, entertainment and productivity applications that impact our daily lives.
From mobile phones to portable gaming, portable movie players, and mobile computers (laptops, notebooks, tablets and PDA’s) – the way we consume, engage and share information has shifted. We live in a hyper-connected world where mobility is the standard.
Thus, where and how your business communicates and engages must shift as well.
– Gary Colen, CEO of AMP Agency suggests that, “with our always-connected lifestyle, small businesses have the unique opportunity to create meaningful connections and experiences with their consumers—anywhere and anytime.” (Tweet This)
– “The mobile revolution will inevitably transform your business in the next decade —not because mobile will generate massive direct revenues but because it will trigger a more radical transformation toward systems of engagement,” Forrester Research analyst Thomas Husson wrote in Forbes. (Tweet This)
How Small Businesses Can Figure Out Mobile
To engage an on-the-go consumer – start with data and dialogue. First, let us consider the facts: “This year more mobile devices will be sold than ever before…,” according to Silicon Republic. Also “tablets were projected to hit 100M shipments last year alone and by 2015, 81% of U.S. cell users will have smartphones (Sources: ABI Research, 2012; Goldman Sachs, 2011).
In terms of mobile phones, “there are 6 billion mobile subscribers worldwide (87% of the world’s population), nearly 1.2 billion people access the mobile web, eight trillion text messages were sent in 2011, over 300,000 apps have been developed in the past three years and to-date mobile apps have been downloaded 10.9 million times.”
Moreover, “Google accumulates $2.5 billion in annual revenue from mobile advertising and mobile ad spend is projected to hit $20.6 billion by 2016.” (Source: Digital Buzz Blog, 2012)
While these mobility statistics are impressive, how does the data relate to your customer? What are their underlying and unmet mobile needs?
How to Prepare your Business to Go Mobile
The mobile landscape is vast. An understanding of mobile coupled with preparation can set your business apart from those who launch an app here and broadcast an SMS offer there. Here are 10 ways to prepare your business to go mobile:
1. Understand the mobile landscape
Develop a basic understanding of the mobile market. Stay current on trends from mobile industry-related associations including the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), the Mobile Entertainment Forum, CTIA – The Wireless Association, and the Mobile Marketing Association (MMA).
2. Consider your customer
When asked, “How well does your organization know the level of mobile device adoption of its customers?” 75% of marketers [did not] understand mobile device adoption of their customers,” according to Marketing Sherpa.
“If you don’t believe your customers are mobile, just think about how many people access email on their mobile device today. I think we get hung up on the notion that mobile is about Web access, that mobile is iPhone and iPad, that mobile is apps. There is so much more to it,” said Damir Saracevic, Director of Digital Marketing at Catalyst.
3. Develop a mobile strategy
Why do you want to invest in mobile? Do you want to:
a. maximize brand awareness,
b. drive more traffic to your company’s website by making it more mobile friendly,
c. improve customer service by creating apps for high involvement, on-demand services,
d. enhance employee productivity when managing big data initiatives, or
e. develop a mobile Intranet to facilitate collaboration?
AMP Agency CEO, Gary Colen asserts that most clients are “looking to achieve high consumer engagement on mobile—resulting in increased conversion rates.”
4. Consider mobile commerce
When customers visit your website from a mobile device, are you prepared to engage and convert them into customers? Studies indicate that, “Four out of five consumers use smartphones to shop” and “the ‘mobile influence factor’ (or effect of smartphones on in-store sales) on retail purchases will increase to $689 billion (or 19% of total store sales) by 2016.” (Source: comScore, 2012; Source: Deloitte, 2012)
5. Invest in mobile-friendly technology
How does your website look on mobile platforms? According to Compuware, “57 percent of consumers will not recommend a business with a poorly designed mobile site. Similarly, 40 percent of consumers will go to a competitor’s site after a bad mobile experience.”
6. Define mobile marketing goals
How can you attract and engage customers on mobile devices? After defining mobile marketing goals, many businesses will turn to mobile web banners, SMS advertising and other forms of mobile media tactics. In fact, eMarketer expects U.S. mobile ad spending to reach $7.19 billion [this] year and nearly $21 billion by 2016.
But if mobile is a consideration, walk before you run. Maria Mandel, executive director of digital innovation at Ogilvy New York, advises “to crawl first by deploying SMS messaging; walk, by using banner advertisements or building a mobile WAP site; and then run by offering video or downloadable applications to consumers.”
7. Measure mobile programs
Develop success metrics and KPIs. Track your mobile efforts with free mobile analytics tools such as Google Mobile Analytics, AdMob, Bango and Flurry.
8. Accept mobile payments
Every business can use mobile devices to accept payments at trade shows. Service companies can accept payments on-the-go using Square, and e-commerce stores can enable Google Wallet payments.
Brick and mortar retailers can update POS equipment to enable mobile wallet payment options in-store. For example, “when it is time to pay, the consumer turns on his or her phone’s screen, opens the wallet application, enters their pin number, and passes the phone within a few inches of the contactless payment symbol. The payment is then processed just like a conventional card transaction.” (Source: First Data, 2012)
“Within five years, half of today’s smartphone users will be using mobile wallets as their preferred payments method.” (Source: Carlisle & Gallagher Consulting Group, 2012)
9. Incorporate mobile into your content strategy
A smaller screen reduces comprehension so keep your content clean. Make your content more scannable by avoiding huge chunks of text and using more subheadings and bullet points.
10. Consider the costs
Once you have identified a mobile focus area decide if you will a) facilitate your mobile program in-house or b) outsource it to a mobile agency. While it may appear less costly to go at it alone, consider the time, resources and learning curves of your team in comparison to hiring a specialized consultant or agency.
“The biggest consideration for small businesses when it comes to connecting with mobile consumers is rethinking the traditional ‘path to purchase,’” Gary Colen, CEO, AMP Agency suggests. “What we’ve found is that many people look at mobile as a check box in their marketing plan, which is overlooking the big picture. Mobile is not solely about the device or even a channel, but instead the behaviors enabled by having the device on you at all times.”
“Brands will need to determine how to best enable consumers to access content when they need and want it in order to drive as many conversions as possible. The key takeaway is consumers are connected 24/7. As Kiip CEO, Brian Wong, believes, ‘It’s not online or offline, it’s online or asleep,’” Colen said.
How will you tackle mobile this year? Let me know in the comments section below.
Disclosure: This post is brought to you by Visa Small Business and I receive compensation for my time from Visa for sharing my views in this post, however the views expressed here are solely mine, not Visa’s.
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