4 Ways Mobile Devices Impact Your Business and Marketing

Mobile has been promoted as the next big thing almost every year for the past 10 years, but today it truly is becoming the platform, the technology you need to listen to (pun intended). Here are four ways that mobile is impacting your marketing efforts.

4 Ways Mobile Devices Impact Your Business and Marketing

1.  Mobile devices have a smaller screen. This is painfully obvious, but have you designed for it? Mobile screens are changing e-mail messaging structures. I read an Infusionsoft report that highlighted this and implored customers to pay attention to the mobile screen. Dozens of others have followed suit. What will your customers see on a smaller screen? Is the subject line more important than ever because it is all they might see?

It is frequently stated that e-mail is dead due to mobile and social networks. E-mail is far from dead.  Although stats show that many people are migrating to social networks to communicate, consider the fact that Facebook recently decided to create an e-mail platform. Why? Because people need and want more than short updates and chat to communicate.  If you’re wondering what your e-mail might look like on a mobile device, Web-based service provider Email on Acid lets you test your e-mail as it will appear on many browsers and mobile devices.

The smaller mobile screen will also impact how a customer sees your website. Many mobile devices don’t allow or use Flash technology, so you have to think about that. It may be worth considering a mobile marketing platform instead. One of the top mobile site builders is mobiSiteGalore. Yes, it would be a pain to maintain two sites, but it could also be more cost effective.

2.  Location, location, location used to be the real estate world’s maxim, but should now be the marketing and small business owner’s maxim.  Location-based offers and services will change how customers engage in almost every way. Customers have the ability to be hyper-connected with their social networks.  You have only to look at Foursquare and Gowalla to get a glimpse of the power of location.

3.  Use of mobile apps is growing. Whether you know it or not, customers are scanning and comparison shopping, on the spot, in your retail store.  Search and search engine optimization are rapidly changing. On the Droid X I’m testing and will be reviewing here shortly, one of the top apps was a barcode scanner used via the smartphone camera.  Think of how you can tie mobile coupons to your offers.

I worked on a project in Japan years ago; in that country, I could use my cell phone to pay for an in-store purchase.  Japan leads U.S. mobile technology by five to 10 years and possibly Europe and other parts of Asia by one or two years.  Along with your Google Places (or Facebook Places) page, you can add a QR code (like a barcode) to your site, to your retail store window and your e-mails. The viewer or recipient can scan that code with a smartphone and receive a special offer or welcome message.  There are a few easy QR creation sites out there if you want to create a code for your site, e-mail or storefront.

4.  Text messaging still matters. Even with the growth of iPhones and Droid-powered smartphones, these are still only a slice of the mobile market. Millions of people are still engaging via text messaging and SMS platforms. Your customer will opt-in to text message (SMS) offers. You don’t have to wait for smartphone usage to completely dominate. Text is a favorite way consumers communicate, but is not used often enough as a way to market. Again, this isn’t spam, but permission-based marketing.

One of the best posts I’ve read about mobile marketing trends came from one of our contributors, Paul Rosenfeld of Fanminder. Granted, Paul is in the mobile marketing (SMS) space and has some bias, but he paints a fair picture from all I’ve seen and studied about mobile.  One important note from that post: “Gen Yers (18-29) say their phone is the most important device they own.” I would argue that other generations are saying the same thing.

If you want to get just a taste of the many mobile applications for small business, read my 19 Mobile Apps post.  What mobile apps are you using, developing, or researching?  Please share them here in the comments.


TJ McCue TJ McCue served as Technology/Product Review Editor for Small Business Trends for many years and now contributes on 3D technologies. He is currently traveling the USA on the 3DRV roadtrip and writes at the Refine Digital blog.

13 Reactions
  1. I really feel limited by the smaller screen sometimes. Depending on what I want to do I feel as though I’m limiting myself to doing only certain types of things.

  2. Thanks Mike. Are you talking about from the mobile user perspective or as the biz owner trying to share content that gets viewed on a mobile screen? I think it goes both ways, right? Not all sites (few) are optimized for Mobile.

    Just as an FYI and shoutout for those on WordPress blogs — go and get the Carrington theme. It rocks and immediately makes your blog much more friendly for mobile readers. It allows you to have two themes running essentially. I use it with my Thesis blogs and love it. Renders nice on a Droid X (coming review about Skype Mobile) and the iPhone (at least at last check it did).

  3. Having a mobile-friendly version of your site should be required of any campaign or effort that reaches people when they aren’t at home on their computer. Translation: most of the time.

    With the mobile version, include a link to the full site (because some phones really can handle it), but remember that as fast as 3G may be, download times on a mobile phone are more like dial-up.

  4. I keep making an emphasis of this to companies. So many companies want their newsletters to look pretty, when in reality, a lot of their subscribers read their e-mail on their phone. HTML doesn’t transfer over well to all devices (Blackberry users especially). Sometimes you have to sacrifice the look of your pretty newsletter and give them bare bone text.

  5. TJ: I have a mobile version of my EGO blog on MoFuse (free version), but lately the loading time has been pretty long on the mobile. Have you had similar problems?

    Do you have a tip on a good QR code scanner for the iPhone?

    I think that Squarespace web platform automatically detects if you are surfing on a computer or on a computer and adjusts the format accordingly. They have a nifty iPhone app, so you could check your dashboard in an quick and easy way.

    With the increased amount of mobile surfing, have you looked into the threats of hijacking mobile devices on open wifi hot spots and by open blue tooth ports?

  6. TJ: Did you see that consumers in Japan used their cell phones for getting information from the products in the store by scanning the bar codes?

    Have you heard about Barcode Hero?


  7. Excellent points, Robert. Thanks for sharing them.

  8. Hi Martin,
    Yes on Japan. I used to work in the mobile software space and was in Japan several times, once in talks with NTT DoCoMo. Japan was and is so far ahead of the US and much of the world with what they do with mobile phones.

    Small sidenote: This is both a great and not-so-great thing — but I texted home to my wife in Seattle when I reached the summit of Mount Fuji. Not so great when I think about the enviro part.

    The iPhone barcode scanner I’ve used (via a friend’s phone) is RedLaser. On the Droid X, I’m using the open source one by XZing. Here is the link: http://code.google.com/p/zxing/
    Will check out barcode hero now. Thanks!!

    What I want to know is how many people have been told they can’t scan something in a store.

    I use wifi off the phone in random bursts, my simple way of preventing hackers. Far from ironclad, though… 😉

  9. TJ: Thanks for the tip on the scanner. I will check it out. Do you mean that store owners will not allow customers to scan stuff?

    I am interested to learn more about how you could secure yourself when it comes to mobile safety.

  10. Great post, TJ! It’s awesome what they’re doing with mobile overseas and exciting to see it start to be used in the states.


  11. My small business is catering to those who wish to staff customer service on the go. We don’t have an app per se, but we integrate with all the popular mobile chat apps. I think that mobile devices are very powerful tools for small business owners because they offer flexibility. I would encourage others who are developing mobile business solutions to consider leveraging existing popular mobile apps for small business solutions as we have.

  12. The iPhone barcode scanner is ingenious, certainly. However, the amount of info, contacts and general accessibility of a mobile device, leaves the small (and big) business in jeopardy of losing data. Even with the speed of technological advancement, we are still prone to human error! Additionally, blurring personal devices in a business setting brings the risk of employees misusing them.

    Mark at IDG Connect