Twenty years ago, smartphones were unheard of. Cell phones were only used to place, and receive, calls or text messages. Today, they’re the primary driver for most people. That is, people rely on their smartphones daily, as opposed to a computer, laptop or tablet.
Just think about all the things you can do with your phone. You can use it for bank tasks, communication and social media, productivity, work, play and more. In fact, smartphones are so important in our daily lives, both business and personal, that you might even feel naked if you leave home without one.
A whopping 64% of Americans now own a smartphone, a statistic that increased from 35% just five years ago in the spring of 2011.
As a result, there’s absolutely no question about whether or not your business should have a mobile presence. Yes — you should have a mobile presence, and it should have been done yesterday.
Going Mobile: What You Need to Do
First thing’s first: you need to decide what kind of mobile presence you’d like to have. There are many ways to “go mobile,” including entering the mobile app market.
If you have the resources (you’ll need developers), you can create mobile apps for your customers and audience. This is a proprietary solution and gives you full control over the content and products you deliver to your customers.
That said, creating and maintaining a mobile app is a huge investment. You’ll need developers to create the app and content, and you’ll need them on payroll to maintain the service. You’ll also need to release updates including new features, support and bug fixes — all of which means keeping those developers on a retainer.
In the past, creating and providing mobile apps was not a viable option for small business. Today, that’s not the case. You can outsource the work, and even sign a contract with third-party companies to do the necessary labor.
If you don’t want to bother with mobile apps, you can always create a mobile-friendly version of your website. This also requires developers, but because it’s similar to maintaining a regular website, which hopefully you already have, you can likely use your existing IT or development team for it.
Going Mobile: Tips for an Effective Launch
Whether you’re new to mobile or not, there are several things you can do to make the launch go smoothly:
Inform Your Customers
Let your customers know you’re making the jump to mobile platforms. Use any and all forms of advertising, including word-of-mouth, promotional materials, social media, blog announcements and more.
Get the word out there! Otherwise, people will have no idea there’s a mobile service to take advantage of unless they stumble across it — and that could take a while.
Keep Your Mobile Channels Up-to-Date
Whether you opt for a mobile website or a dedicated app, you need to keep the service up-to-date. That means putting together a team in order to keep the content fresh.
Because this sounds like generic advice, we’ll give you a more specific example.
Let’s say you sell retail products, and you create a mobile app that will provide customers with coupons, discounts and rewards points to use in your stores or online. You’ll want a team to keep that content fresh by adding new discounts and deals. They’ll also need to add new features, such as a barcode scanning tool or in-app QR code generator.
The more you add to your mobile app or website, the more people are going to use it. And that means you’ll need to stay on the forefront, which is why generating content is so important.
Take Advantage of Mobile Marketing and Social Media
Advertise and promote your mobile channels via social media, and use all the mobile features provided. For instance, most applications can deliver push notifications to users on their devices. This means it will send a notification through the mobile operating system.
These can be notifications for new deals, news and feature alerts, personal account updates and more. You don’t have to use all of these features, but you will need to use at least some. Don’t forget: you can always consult your marketing or development teams for guidance on the matter.
There’s a variety of mobile marketing resources that can help you wrap your head around the new platform, as well.
Going Mobile: What Are the Benefits?
The mobile shift is happening for a reason, right? There must be some additional benefits to doing so, especially considering the investment requirements.
Better Employee and Customer Engagement
Today’s youth was raised around “smart” technology. You’d be hard-pressed to find a teenager or young adult who doesn’t have their own smartphone. Nielsen reports that well over 85% of Generation Y (Millennials) owns a smartphone.
So it’s no surprise that having a mobile presence can lead to better employee and customer engagement. But innovation is key, particularly when it comes to technology — and one of the most common forms of innovation comes from having a mobile presence.
Remote or Out-of-Office Work Solutions
Going mobile, or creating mobile app solutions, doesn’t necessarily mean confining the technology to your customers. You can offer just as many opportunities to your employees or your workforce.
There are plenty of mobile and remote app solutions that can help you achieve such a thing. If and when you do, this opens up so many doors for your employees.
Consider developing an in-house app or tool system that taps into your business network remotely. Employees can sign-in from anywhere — including their homes — and work as needed.
Mobile Support Improves Productivity and Experiences for All
Whether you offer mobile support for your employees or your customers, it’s sure to improve both productivity and experience for everyone. It improves the experience because people can tap into important tasks, content and tools from anywhere using just a mobile device.
It improves productivity because it allows people, customers and employees alike, to get things done even while they’re away from your brick-and-mortar stores.
Imagine an app that allows customers to file a return or product repair claim from their mobile device. Consider the option to place orders or buy products and services through an online storefront. Or, maybe you want to allow your employees to file for time off from a mobile app?