The rise of mobile technology is easy to observe – people live their lives on their smart phones and do everything from buying movie tickets to checking their blood sugar on them. Of course, the rise in mobile technology has big implications for small businesses. Mobile technology is the latest way that the playing field is being leveled for small businesses vis-à-vis large companies. By embracing the latest trends in mobile, you can compete more effectively with companies much larger than yours. Being nimble is more important than being big in some cases, and mobile marketing is one of those cases.
It’s estimated that, by 2019, more than half of online traffic will come from devices that aren’t PCs, and mobile and wireless traffic is likely to exceed traffic on wired devices. Nearly 2 billion people worldwide own smartphones. Here are five trends to watch in mobile marketing.
1. Mobile search
Understanding mobile search will help you define your mobile marketing strategy. The first step is to have a website that is responsive, meaning it will adjust to the size of the device it’s being viewed on. This is important for two reasons: first, it makes it easier for users to view and use your site without scrolling or squinting. Second, when a search is conducted on a mobile device, responsive websites will rank higher in Google search results than those that are not optimized for mobile. With the majority of searches now being conducted on mobile devices, you’re leaving business on the table if your website isn’t responsive.
When you create copy or content for your website, understand that users searching on mobile devices use shorter search terms than those who are looking from a desktop computer. On a desktop, a small business owner might type in ‘how much does small business insurance cost’ when they are looking to protect their business. Someone searching on a mobile device might type ‘business insurance cost’ instead. As you work to set up search engine optimization goals, keep mobile search terms in mind.
2. Mobile payments
Increasingly, customers want to pay with their mobile device, whether it’s in person, remotely or online. Supporting mobile payments will eliminate one barrier to doing business with you if your customer is a fan of mobile payments. Here are a few of the mobile payment platforms you’ll see:
• Apple Pay lets customers pay with their iPhone, Apple Watch or within an app. Merchants don’t receive or store debit or credit card numbers, so there’s less risk to the consumer and to the business.
• Google Wallet lets users store credit, debit, gift and loyalty cards, and lets you manage loyalty programs and offers to those who use it. Users can also send money to one another via email or phone.
• Venmo is a peer-to-peer payment system. Users can send money by email or phone, by debit card or linked bank account, or by credit card for a 3% fee. Probably not the first choice for a brick-and-mortar or online retailer right now, Venmo is one to watch as it gains traction with millennials.
• Samsung Pay is the most widely accepted mobile payment technology, but it works on Samsung Galaxy devices only. If you have a credit card readers for swiping cards, you already accept Samsung Pay. Users can store multiple cards on their phone and just tap the payment terminal to pay.
Mobile technology continues its trajectory skyward, so be sure to keep an eye on these marketing trends.
How do you use mobile marketing in your business? Tell us in the comments below.
3. Buy buttons
Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites have begun programs to include ‘buy’ buttons that allow users to purchase items without leaving their social media newsfeed. When announced, these programs were hailed as a boon for small businesses that may not have the resources to create a custom app to enable purchases from smartphones and other mobile devices.
The effectiveness of these buttons has been mixed so far. Facebook rolled out the program to a limited number of large retailers to start, and some of them have exited the program when it didn’t produce the expected volume of sales. Twitter just disbanded the development team that designed its ‘buy’ button, but the company was quick to say that the button isn’t going away, it just won’t be upgraded.
It’s unlikely that the major social media networks will abandon all hope of enabling users to easily shop from their newsfeeds, so this is likely to be a regrouping. Look for new attempts at social media commerce in the near future.
4. Mobile-only Social Media
Some social networks are designed specifically for mobile, and they’re growing by leaps and bounds. Snapchat and Periscope are two of the most popular.
Snapchat lets users send images and videos as ‘snaps’ to their followers. Snaps disappear after a few seconds, so keep that in mind as you brainstorm ways to use this network for marketing. Snapchat can be used to invite customers to special events, hold contests or scavenger hunt promotions and build your brand with images that bring customers behind the scenes.
Periscope lets you post a live video feed that your followers can watch. You can use it when you have a special event so people can watch from anywhere. You can also use it for how-to videos about your products. You can also run contests and promotions.
The key to using these visual social media networks is similar to the other networks you already use: you need to have followers and promote your posts. Snapchat and Periscope should be part of your overall social media strategy.
5. Custom apps
Having a mobile app makes it even easier for customers to connect and shop with you. You can connect your app to your website, blog and social media networks, customers can request quotes or appointments, and much more. Take a look at the app builders from Appy Pie or App Makr. They offer both free and paid versions of their app-making software. Make sure the version you select includes support for the iOs platform. Not all of them do since Apple has more hoops for app developers to jump through, but you’ll miss out on the majority of smartphone users if you don’t support iPhones.