Guest Author - Kathryn K Free
Small businesses need to get involved with the Smartphone revolution in a big way. Talking to small business owners I hear phrases like, ‘my customers do not use smartphones’ or ‘I do not own a smartphone.’ Those two simple comments say so much, but not what the business owners believe. Business owners need to understand what is happening and see this revolution because in a short blink of the eye the impact it will change how consumers find businesses and shop.
Laptops, bluetooth headsets, netbooks, smartphones, pads, pods are just a few mobile devices that have come to the market over the last few years. Owners of Smartphones are pretty evenly dispersed today ~ 35% go to Blackberrys, 33% go to iPhones and 25% go to Androids leaving the remaining 7% owning Windows Mobile devices. Not one operating system but three control the market.
Studies are beginning to take shape on how smartphones help small businesses. Majority of small business owners are using their smartphones for everyday things like e-mail, scheduling and calls. Many are beginning to ‘tweet’ on the go with 12% investing in mobile advertising and mobile APP’s.
One prediction is that mobile advertising is set to grow nearly 50% and to top $1 billion by the end of 2011 according to eMarketer.
According to research by Chetan Sharma Consulting, mobile applications — “APP’s” — are the newest must-have addition to the arsenal of any Web-based small business. This ‘must-have’ tool is huge. APP’s across all mobile operating systems is exploding by numbers not seen before and are predicted to approach 50 billion by 2012.
Many small businesses believe that since they have a website they are ready to be seen on a mobile APP. This is simply naive. Make sure your business not only stays in the game but is in the game! Consumers are turning more and more to their smartphones to find businesses and products while they are on the go. If businesses want to succeed, it takes more than just having a web page, businesses need to be mobile ready.
Below are some quotes from respected individuals and companies.
FROM: Alex Iskoid, CEO of GetGlue.com
“You can’t have a successful offering without a mobile application,” Alex Iskold, CEO of GetGlue.com, a social network for entertainment, told BusinessNewsDaily. “If you don’t have a mobile offering, you’re missing a giant opportunity to engage audiences. Mobile gives you an opportunity to instill the essence of your service.”
FROM: Ryan Kuder, VP of Marketing for Bizzy.com
For Bizzy.com, which is in the process of developing its own app, the essence of its service is helping people find the best places to eat, shop and play, based on their personal profile and recommendations from people with similar preferences. It’s a personalized local business-recommendation engine, said Ryan Kuder, Bizzy.com’s VP of marketing.
To create a successful mobile app, he said, you have to start at the beginning. That’s not as obvious as if may seem; many businesses get themselves in trouble by trying to get by with a translation of their existing website, bells and whistles and all. Simplicity is a mobile app's best friend.
“Identify the use case,” said Kuder. “What’s the 'pain point' you’re trying to solve? What’s the scenario the person is in? What do they want from the app?”
Kuder believes most of Bizzy.com’s app traffic is going to come from people making eating decisions.
BE INCLUDED, MAP OR CREATE AN APP
Consumers using a mobile app are not looking for everything your website offers. They want it fast, simple and clear. You need to make is user friendly to the max. Desktop and laptop computers are where consumers will go when they want to spend time reading and filling out profiles or questionnaires. They will use an APP when they are away from home or traveling.
There are three main options for entering the mobile APP world for small businesses.
1. Be Included ~ there are several APP’s on the market that are currently marketing for including into their APP. The iQuiltnow, iKnitnow, iBeadnow, iScrapnow mobile APP’s are among this market. These APP’s are for the retail craft stores giving the consumer a powerful locator APP while providing the store owners with an actual full page business screen where they can layout what they offer.
2. Map to an APP ~ there are many geolocation APP’s that allow users to target and find where they are and what is around their location. You have to register with the provider of these APP’s in many cases to be included in their search engines and this can become costly.
3. Create your own APP ~ building a mobile app needs to begin with defining what is necessary and then build upon this foundation. Roll out a simple mobile APP, gather data and formulate useful updates to follow.
I see more and more today the need for small businesses to embrace the PDA/Smartphone technology. Take the step away from their fears and move forward.