Almost two-thirds of Americans now own a smartphone, according to the Pew Research Center. And many of them are using their smartphones to find products and services that they need on the go. It’s no longer typical for businesses to get most of their customers through the phone directory or even a general search engine. Today’s consumers jump between devices, platforms and locations to discover products and services and make purchase decisions, a process known as “zigzagging” according to new research from YP Marketing Solutions. Therefore to capture these consumers you must make your business mobile.
If your small business is accessible via a mobile platform, you’ll be better able to capture your target customers, as they are likely using mobile devices. Rather than leaving mobile traffic to large companies with optimized online presences, small business owners can take steps to bring their operations, customer-facing platform, and reporting to a mobile platform. As mobile continues to expand, those efforts are likely to pay off in the form of increased business.
A mobile presence can help boost your business because it allows you to be in the right place at the right time with the right offer. Here are five steps to make your business mobile ready.
1. Establish a mobile-friendly online presence.
Just having a website is no longer enough; these days, your website needs to be optimized for mobile visitors. “A huge portion of web traffic comes from mobile, especially if you’re a local business,” says Michael Heiligenstein, marketing manager of Fit Small Business. “Plenty of people are looking for places to visit, eat at, and buy from. If you haven’t updated your site for 10 years, or even five years, it won’t look great on mobile, will be hard to read and use, and many of your visitors will go elsewhere.”
Case in point: Ben Luftman, managing partner of Luftman, Heck & Associates, a criminal defense firm based in Columbus, Ohio, says optimizing his firm’s website for mobile traffic has been instrumental in making it the highest-volume criminal defense and DUI defense firm in the area. “When someone gets pulled over for a DUI, they may have a smartphone in their pocket and start Googling for a lawyer, so mobile is key to reaching my potential clientele as a defense attorney,” Luftman says.
2. Find your customers.
Direct your mobile strategy to your ideal customer base by taking time to think about where they are, how they make purchasing decisions and what they need to know to find your business. Once you understand the types of information your ideal customer may need, make sure you are optimizing it so that they can find you.
More than half of consumers surveyed by YP Marketing Solutions agreed that it’s important to them to view content that is related to the products or services for which they are searching. Because different people rely on different types of information, a variety of content can be important. Blog posts that include key search terms can inform consumers and bring new, targeted traffic to your website.
Product descriptions, price lists and resource lists related to your product or service allow searchers to compare with similar products and see what they can get for their money. And most important are images of products, as 78 percent of searchers in the study said they like to view potential purchases . Reviews from other customers are also important: Forty-nine percent of searchers say they never buy without checking reviews online.
3. Get a payment reader.
Not all mobile features are virtual — if you provide services at off-site locations, a mobile point-of-sale system is a no-brainer. For instance, if you own a plumbing company, your plumbers in the field can collect credit or debit card payments on site when they perform services, and you won’t have to spend time sending and tracking invoices and waiting for payment.
Even if your customers come to your place of business, a mobile payment reader streamlines the purchasing process and can help boost cash flow. Restaurant owners, for example, say that a mobile payment system allows them to turn tables more quickly and allows servers to handle more tables, increasing their business volume. By offering customers the option to pay at the point of sale through a mobile payment system, you can simplify and enhance their experience with your business.
4. Build an app.
For some types of businesses, building your own app can be the ideal way to create ongoing relationships with your customers. For instance, Skyjet, a provider of private jet charters, launched an app in August 2015 to give users the ability to instantly access a custom fleet of aircraft. Like an Uber service for airplanes, Skyjet’s app provides instant pricing, availability and booking for jet charters.
“Our app provides travelers with unprecedented efficiency, flexibility and convenience,” says Skyjet CEO Greg Richman. “The app empowers users to get real-time pricing, book and pay for their trip instantly, all while on the go.”
5. Move to omni-channel marketing.
Once your business enters the mobile realm, you’ll have a whole new wealth of options for marketing and reaching your audience. The ability to promote your business to your target market through a variety of channels means that you’ll be able to reach and convert more potential customers. For example, Craig Bloem, founder and CEO of online logo maker FreeLogoServices.com, says that sending the same marketing messages through a variety of channels has allowed his company to attract more than 20 million users each year.
“For our email marketing, we created templates that looked good on mobile as well as desktop,” Bloem says. “Also, we moved 10 percent to 20 percent of our ad budget to mobile campaigns.” The company has seen positive results: 50 percent of its marketing emails are opened on mobile phones; 25 percent of traffic and 10 percent of sales come from mobile.
Most Americans have become accustomed to using their mobile devices to communicate with friends and family, keep up with news and events, and do business with large corporations. To remain an important part of their lives, your small business must also become accessible via mobile. When you take your business to the mobile device, “customers are more satisfied with the user experience,” Bloem says.
Capital One does not provide, endorse, nor guarantee any third-party product, service, information or recommendation listed above. The third parties listed are not affiliated with Capital One and are solely responsible for their products and services. All trademarks are the property of their respective owners.
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