Why is Mobile a Big Deal?
Almost half a decade ago, those who kept a finger on the pulse of consumer trends and market direction foresaw that mobile was going to be a crucial component to small-town business success. Stephen Kerner, an account manager at CPC Strategy noted in 2014 that a significant number of consumers in the United States owned smartphones and consequently, small businesses across the United States, “are responding by implementing… mobile marketing campaigns.”
With as much development and growth to business strategy as there has been since then, the core of his sentiment still remains accurate, but today, optimizing small-town businesses for mobile operation is even more important than it was in the past. Andrew Gazdecki of bizneapps.com points out that a mobile strategy is important, and a timely shift to optimizing your mobile campaign is a key component that will allow mobile optimization to be a game-changer in your small-town business. He says that “if you wait too long to invest in this shift in technology, you are going to end up spending more money trying to rebuild the market presence you’ve already built.”
Even though the biznessapps.com infographic shared by Gazdecki shows that “47.3% of SMBs are not mobile-ready but 49% of consumers are looking for information about local SMBs on their smartphones,” having a website that shows up on phones and tablets, is not enough. Brian Solais, a principal analyst at Altimeter Group, points out that, “mobile success requires a lot more than just having an app or mobile site.” That’s why it’s important to have a thorough understanding of all of the potential benefits that come along with mobile optimization.
How Can It Help?
One aspect of mobile that is very beneficial to a small-town business is the enhanced marketing capabilities that mobile optimization provides. Chelsea Segal writes on the coxblue.com blog that “professionals need to discover the channels that resonate most with people, and mobile marketing strategies can help.” Don’t think of your mobile campaign as just a small version of your web content. Most people maintain easy access to one or more of their mobile devices, so mobile technologies give small-town businesses access to consumers virtually everywhere they go. Segal stresses the need for business professionals to look at mobile technologies from a marketing standpoint which gives them, “another window to reach out to prospective customers and provide those buyers with incentive offers they cannot refuse.”
Solais also notes that having a mobile presence and leveraging efficient marketing practices are just the starting point. “Digital strategists must also understand how preferences, expectations, and intent evolve and how their users seek to interact with different platforms.” Google performance marketers Alana Vieira and Stephanie Kumar note that your mobile site has to be done well, because if it’s difficult to navigate or insufficiently responsive then it hurts more than just your short-term conversions. The Google pair point out that, a poorly optimized mobile site “impacts a person’s perception of a brand,” and that more than half of people, “say they look poorly on brands with mobile sites that are not designed for use on a smartphone.”
A Few Things to Keep in Mind About Mobile Apps…
Not all mobile apps are good mobile apps. There is definitely a wrong way to go about reaching out to consumers to increase your mobile app presence. Vierira and Kumar stress that while creating a mobile app gives you a chance to really connect with consumers and educate them on both the perks of having your app and the advantages of your brand in general, “don’t try to earn a spot on people’s phones by forcing them to download your app.” This sort of “voluntelling” people what to use more often than not leads to swift deletion shortly after the initial download.
Small-town businesses need to set up their mobile apps so that customers don’t feel obligated to download the app and don’t have to find it organically either. It’s important to create awareness around the app and the reason that consumers should have it. Solis notes that apps should provide, “differentiated and value-added experiences, “since consumers interact differently with apps than with websites. They, “feel a more permanent relationship because they see the app on their screen each day, and it’s taking up storage/memory.” Vieira and Kumar note that “42% of those who haven’t downloaded their favorite brand’s app have never considered downloading it, while 25% didn’t know their favorite brand had one.”
There also needs to be a reason for customers to use the app that goes beyond just getting discounts. Once that reason is defined, use every opportunity to tell the world about it, because the two also point out that, “53% of smartphone users say they do not have their favorite brand’s app installed on their phone.” So, as a small-town business, you have to give them a very good reason to download and keep yours.
Don’t Get It Just Because You Can
Solis points out that although, “popular apps and on-demand services push consumer behaviors in new, disruptive directions,” not every company needs an app. As a small-town business, it’s important to take into consideration the needs of your customers and to ensure that everything you roll out is optimized for them. While having an optimized mobile site is a necessity as soon as you enter the realm of apps you begin competing with the larger companies. Solis shares that as a small-town business, if you decide to create an app “the stakes are much higher. You’re not just competing against traditional competitors here. You’re also competing against the likes of Uber, Amazon, Instagram, and any app that sets the bar for user experience.”
At the end of the day, employing mobile strategies to a small-town business is no longer just a polite suggestion. The data is resoundingly clear that creating a clear and user-friendly mobile experience is a key to maximizing success in today’s markets. However, it’s also quite clear that there is much more to creating a successful mobile campaign than duplicating your website on mobile devices. As Solis points out, “without a full understanding of mobile user experience (UX), mobile sites can do more harm than good.”