The modern worlds of IT and telecommunications offer across-the-board challenges and benefits to small businesses. Many of these revolve around providing employees with the best and most secure platforms with which to do their jobs.
An issue that sometimes doesn’t generate as much attention is the relationship between small businesses and their current and prospective customers.
The desire of customers and the tools available to businesses both are ever-changing. During the past few years, the customer base has become highly mobilized, especially in any field in which a younger demographic is courted.
This is a bit of a hidden phase: A big deal was made when the Web exploded as a way to shop. Of course, using smartphones and tablets to shop is acknowledged as an established trend. What may not be acknowledged is that mobilized online shoppers are a significantly different animal than those sitting at a PC in their den.
The Associated Press today posted a story suggesting that the change is very important:
More small business owners are recognizing that however they’ve reached customers in the past, mobile not only needs to be part of their strategy but may need to be the primary focus of their marketing. Research showing phones and tablets edging out other means is helping persuade them. And some are operating only with apps on mobile devices, forgoing websites.
GreenPal is a firm that connects people with lawn care companies. The owner says that its initial website, which was not mobilized, had to be completely redone because 85 percent of mobile visitors were leaving without placing an order. That was no small issue: The original site cost $90,000 to create.
Another way in which businesses reach their current and potential customers is via apps. This is a bit of a newer world, but one that small businesses should jump into. KnowTechie offers five reasons that mobile apps are a good idea. Mobile apps are available to customers, can be a competitive advantage over competitors who bypass the strategy and, if done well, provide superior engagement. Mobile apps also increase convenience and build customer loyalty.
Small Business Trends makes a strong case for mobile apps, saying that the cost of mobile apps is shrinking rapidly as they become more popular and attract a greater number of developers. There are also are very basic packages that will enable a small business willing to dedicate a bit of time to build its own apps. Mobile apps are roughly following the path made by websites in the recent past – in terms of the need to have them, the downward direction of their cost, their overall quality, and the flexible ways in which they can be created.
Business must work efficiently, support their workers at home or on the go, and otherwise incorporate mobility into the game plan. The first job of any business, however, is to attract and retain customers. Not developing a mobile strategy to do this is a big mistake.
Carl Weinschenk covers telecom for IT Business Edge. He writes about wireless technology, disaster recovery/business continuity, cellular services, the Internet of Things, machine-to-machine communications and other emerging technologies and platforms. He also covers net neutrality and related regulatory issues. Weinschenk has written about the phone companies, cable operators and related companies for decades and is senior editor of Broadband Technology Report. He can be reached at [email protected] and via twitter at @DailyMusicBrk.