How Small Businesses are Benefitting from Mobile Marketing
Technology has a habit of growing at exponential rates, and as a result, can leave people in the dust if they’re not ready. This is definitely the case if a company isn’t prepared with a fully-loaded mobile version of their website with an app to boot.
Otherwise, people are getting fired and your ticked-off boss isn’t exactly choosy, if you know what we mean. (Hint: fire up some clips of the WWE’s Vince McMahon on YouTube before meeting them so you know what kind of mood they’ll be in. It’ll be fun!)
A cursory look at the numbers makes the importance of having a major mobile presence stunningly obvious.
A study done by eMarketer in 2015 showed that the amount of time people spent on mobile websites grew to just over half of all Internet activity compared to just 12 percent in 2008, about three hours of daily use. Another study completed by Flurry Analytics around the same time showed that of those three hours, roughly 90 percent of that time is spent on mobile apps.
There are plenty of reasons why a small business should want to spend the time crafting a mobile presence or learning how to build an app, not least because those studies show that there’s a hungry audience out there happy to surf on their phones.
A few of those reasons are outlined below:
Mobile Geo-Fencing Expands Your Reach
Beacon technology uses mobile geofencing to attract customers, especially those who download an official app. Users can receive push notifications about flash sales, even if they’re nowhere near their local home store. Once inside the nearest store, they would receive further notifications about specialized sales targeted to previous purchases.
Retailer Rite Aid announced last year that all of their 4,500-plus stores were going to carry beacons, topping the earlier rollout of Macy’s and the 2014 installation of 4,000 beacons in their stores. Estimates suggest just under four million beacons were sold in 2015, and that number is expected to rise as the decade nears its end. An eMarketer study found that only 29 percent of retailers were using beacons in 2015, so there’s plenty of room for growth.
While smaller companies surely have no need to purchase hundreds of beacons, it’s a useful tool for drawing in customers at any size.
Mobile Customer Loyalty Programs Are Easier to Manage
The typical loyalty program requires a card and an ability to not lose it. Who among us hasn’t dug through our wallet or purse trying to find a card we may or may not have previously signed up for?
That’s no longer an issue as retailers and store chains gradually grow mobile versions of longtime loyalty programs. Downloads of the company’s app allow companies to send coupons straight to a person’s account, so that they can be scanned right at the cash register off of the smartphone. A recent survey by Collins Latitude stated that 85 percent of current users prefer to interact online, so launching a mobile loyalty program is a sensible option.
With the mobile programs, companies can give customers a heads-up on deals, but also get a chance to find out what exactly they’re likely to buy. From there, the app tailors itself to the user’s purchase history.
It Gives Customers More Flexibility
With a mobile app, a lot of the paperwork that used to annoy customers and bosses is gone. Need a bill or an invoice? Just make sure an option exists on the app to bring up their payment history. If you’re a nascent service business, opt for one of the many companies that will allow that and your customers to make payments. Square, PayPal Here, and Braintree Payments are just a few of the possibilities you can choose from.
If you’re a small business that relies on making appointments for a service, SetMore and SimplyBook.me are useful. You’ll be prepared and ready, since you know when that very particular customer is coming.
Those who’d like to streamline things with minimal fuss should be happy to know that Square also offers that option. Plus, there’s When I Work, a schedule app for the new employees you’ll have to hire once everything goes spectacularly well and business is booming! Just make sure to set up the text and SMS alerts so everyone knows when they’re supposed to either show up for work or their services.
Customer Service Is A Lot Easier
We all have horror stories of dealing with long wait times and unresponsive customer service departments, whether it’s by email or trying to get ahold of a real, live person via the phone. (We just had to step away from the laptop to compose ourselves. <deep sigh>)
A ZenDesk study showed that 82 percent of people are likely to switch from a company because of bad service, so getting customer interaction right is important.
There’s an app for that – matter of fact, there are several! Desk.com allows customers the chance to get connected with someone from your company (it might be you, in fact) right away. ZenDesk is also another option, and offers Facebook Messenger support as well.
The Process of Sales Support Gets Streamlined
Customer relationship management (CRM) will become much easier with the right app. Just got a business card from someone you just met? Want to attract long-term interest from someone who browsed your site? The right app will let you take care of those sales support issues easily.
Apps like ForceManager allow you to scan a business card and instantly input information into your database and juggle everything you need to handle – emails and contacts to the appointment calendar.
Marketo is another solid choice, as their Sales Insight platform tracks visitors to a site and uses that with the aim of attracting them to do business with the site.
Great reasons to create a mobile presence, right? Some people just aren’t impressed until there are concrete examples of success. Here are just two examples featuring familiar names to calm the skeptics:
The Seattle-based coffee giant launched a mobile app in 2011 for their American stores, and it was a huge success with an estimated 26 million transactions by year’s end. By all accounts, the chain’s mobile-only rewards program was the main selling point. Consumers were also able to take advantage of app-only deals, mobile pay and ordering options. It’s since been launched in Canada, the United Kingdom, Japan and Indonesia.
We’ve all watched and heard the horror stories from people fighting the holiday crowds, and numbers show that most are preferring to avoid it altogether. This year’s holiday rush saw mobile purchases jump 33 percent from 2015, an eye-popping $1.2bn of a projected $3.34bn total. In comparison, mobile sales were only 16 percent of 2012’s sales.
Those examples only show the importance of getting the mobile part of your business right. There’s simply too much money on the line to leave mobile marketing alone. Get it right, and your business will be ready and prepared to tackle the 21st century. If the big guys can do it, so can you. Good luck!
Andrew Gazdecki is the founder and CEO of Bizness Apps — making mobile apps affordable and simple for small businesses. We’re a do-it-yourself iPhone, iPad, Android & HTML5 app platform that allows any small business to simultaneously create, edit, and manage mobile apps without any programming knowledge needed. Think of us as “WordPress for mobile app creation.” Many of our customers are white label mobile app resellers — marketing or design agencies that use our platform to cost effectively build mobile apps for small business clients.