Odds are your business has been talking about developing a “mobile strategy.” If you are not, you should move it to the top of your to-do list because there’s an excellent chance that your competition is.
The first step in developing a mobile strategy is to understand just what a mobile strategy is. To many small businesses, mobile means logistics and shipping. But, to your millennial customer base, mobile is no longer moving products, it’s a lifestyle.
It’s about communicating with people on their mobile devices. But you probably already knew that. What you may not know is how to do it, or why it’s so important. Let’s deal with both of those questions, starting with the “why.”
The Importance of a Mobile Strategy for Your Business
It was roughly two decades ago that the rush for every business was to have a website. Nobody was quite sure what to do with their online presence, but they knew it was important to have one.
Web sites did a lot of things for businesses, and still do today. Some used them as storefronts or news hubs or ways to distribute content or only advertise themselves. But times have changed. We’re a long way from that Wild West era of internet development. In fact, we know exactly what’s happening right now.
What’s happening is that mobile device use is taking over. In 2008, 80 percent of digital media engagement was on a desktop or laptop computer, compared with only 12 percent on a mobile device. By 2015, not only had overall digital media consumption nearly doubled, but 51 percent of all digital media consumption was on mobile, compared to only 42 percent on desktop or laptop.
That’s a jump from an average of 0.3 hours per day on mobile to 2.8 hours on mobile, in just seven years.
The writing on the wall is clear. Mobile isn’t the future — it’s the present. It’s already upon us, and businesses all around you are finding new ways to connect with existing customers and draw in potential ones.
What a “mobile strategy” is for is to draw out a way to connect with these customers on the devices that keep them connected. If you join with them in the place they connect with the rest of the world, you keep yourself relevant in their fast-paced lives.
Now, I know what you’re probably thinking. “Hey, my company has a website, and we put a lot of money into making that website mobile-friendly. Isn’t that enough?”
A few years ago, that might have been enough. But the world is changing, and in today’s mobile landscape, all that’s good for is getting you left in the dust by your competition.
Don’t believe me? You don’t have to. The research is already out there that says only 11 percent of people’s time on mobile devices is spent on mobile websites. The other 89 percent is spent in apps. Interpreted a different way, that means if your business’s mobile strategy ends at “our site is mobile-friendly,” then you’re missing out on at least 89 percent of your potential audience.
Put another way; you’re missing out on a slice of a $3.1 trillion mobile market pie, which is expected to grow to over $3.7 trillion in 2020.
In all, Americans check their phones a total of 8 billion times a day. If you’re not on their phones, you’re missing 8 billion chances a day to connect with the people who keep your business going.
So, now that you understand what’s at stake, we’re back to our initial problem: What does it even mean to have a mobile marketing strategy? What does it entail? How do you do it?
Here’s a good place to start.
Creating an App
“Oh, sure,” you say. “Just build an app. You make it sound so simple; like I can just snap my fingers and have an app.”
Okay, fair enough. It’s not as simple as just saying “let’s build an app.” But it’s probably not nearly as difficult as you think it is. With the explosion of demand for mobile apps, so too has the ability for small and medium-sized businesses to create supply.
At one point, building an app may have meant hiring an entire development team to program something from scratch. Now, easy to use app builders let you take a pre-established, unbranded app template, fill it with your content and branding, and customize it to your needs.
All this costs a fraction of what a full-scale development project from scratch would cost, and it has allowed businesses of all sizes to get engaged in the mobile market. It gets you into the market faster, avoids the pitfalls of first-time development, and lets you focus on your customers.
All you have to do is know what you want your app to do. Not sure about that either? No problem. A lot of white-label app services will walk you through it, but we’re going to do it here first.
What Your App Can Do
The basic functions of a mobile app aren’t anything unusual, and they mirror a lot of things websites can do, just in a streamlined way — providing a storefront, information about your business, content, etc.
These aren’t unique features by any stretch, just the basics that any business app will do. What you want is something that’s going to drive interest, and create sales where there otherwise wouldn’t have been.
Digital coupons are a good start for this. These are exactly what they sound like. They’re coupons, special offers that compel people to buy something from you, delivered directly to a user’s mobile device. However, there is a huge advantage to app-delivered digital coupons over physical ones.
First off, physical coupons are something you have to spend money on printing and distributing. Then, once you do get them sent out, they tend to be circulated to a huge percentage of people who will deposit them directly into the nearest trash can.
Now, contrast this to a digital coupon strategy. If you’re distributing your coupons directly through your app, not only does it cost you nothing to print and distribute them, but you also have a captive audience. These coupons are going directly to the people who have shown enough interest in your business to download your app. That translates to a much higher conversion rate.
Of course, people are going to have plenty of apps installed on their phones. How do you make them notice yours?
Push alerts are an option, where you can send a pop-up notification to the user’s phone, but they must be used sparingly. Send them out occasionally, when you have an offer or announcement that’s critical. Otherwise, they may block the notifications, or worse, uninstall the app entirely.
You can also use a relatively new location-based technology called geofencing. This will allow you to send a custom-tailored message to people with your app within a certain distance from your actual business location.
For retail businesses, this can be a digital coupon or a special offer that is only available in-store. For restaurants, it can advertise the day’s special menu. Whatever your kind of business, you can use geofencing to give people that last push to get them in the door and ready to buy.
Putting It All Together
These are just a couple ideas to start putting together a fully-featured mobile strategy. You have a lot of options, but the basics of mobile strategy are simple: You want to engage your customers in a personalized way, on the device they spend most of their time with.
Mobile apps make this easier than ever, since most of the time, users will input their preferences about what they’re interested in voluntarily. This is valuable market research, simply given away for free by the very people you most want to target.
The best way for you to start is to think about what kinds of communication and marketing you want to do to engage with customers and create new ones. Once you’ve done that, you can put some time into finding the best white-label apps and services to do it for you.
Once you’ve done that much, you’re off to claiming your piece of the $3.1 billion mobile market pie.