“It’s not the third screen or second screen—it’s the first screen. It’s one of the few things we walk around with all day. We sleep with it within an arm’s reach and, for most of us, it’s the first thing we check every morning.”
Speaking at Tuesday morning’s Marketing to the Digital Consumer panel at FutureM, John Caron, Vice President of Marketing for Catalina, provided a fresh perspective on the evolving relationship between humans and the screens we interact with.
With more than half of all Americans now using smartphones and nearly a quarter of all online activity now coming from mobile devices—we have stumbled into a new age in technology and the future of mobile marketing has unexpectedly shown up at our doors.
Is your business equipped to market to the new digital consumer?
Here are eight things all small businesses need to know about the future of mobile marketing.
1. The future of mobile started yesterday
The first thing you need to know about the future of mobile marketing, is that it actually started yesterday.
Don’t worry; you’re not the only one who may be running a little late. In fact, most of the world’s biggest retailers and service providers are still playing catch up.
That’s because, no one could have fully predicted the rate at which the surge in mobile ownership would begin to influence all of our online activities.
Hits from mobile devices more than doubled from January 2011 to January 2012. By 2013, mobile web searches are expected to eclipse searches from desktop for the first time in history.
Don’t wait until next week, next month, or next year to start thinking about mobile—get started today!
2. Mobile users are social users
If you’re already using social media to engage with your target audience, chances are you’re already involved in a conversation with the mobile majority.
Over 80% of smartphone users use their mobile devices to connect to sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. On Facebook, 600 million of its 1 billion users are logging onto the site via a mobile device, and 70% of those users return to the site on a daily basis (compared to 40% for desktops).
That means, whether it’s at home, work, or at your place of business—mobile users are among the most engaged members of your social communities.
How can you prepare your social media marketing to speak to these members?
First, make sure to download the mobile apps for each of the networks you’re currently using to market your brand—that way you’ll have a better understanding of what their online experience looks like.
Then, put yourself in the place of a customer on the go. Most of these users won’t have the time or patience to read long pieces of text, and in the case of Facebook, any posts longer than 160 characters are going to be cut off. Focus on photos, videos, and other types of rich media.
Track your results and see what types of post are driving the most engagement.
3. Consumers are accessing more information in more places than ever before
The influence of mobile on the life of your customers is already being seen at home, on the go, and especially at your place of business.
Consumers are ahead of the mobile curve. A recent study found that two-thirds of all smartphone users had used their mobile devices to help with making a purchase—with more than a third of those customers using their devices for in-store research.
Last week, Google released a forecast for the upcoming holiday season projecting that four out of five smartphones will rely on mobile devices for help during the shopping season. These users are checking prices, reading reviews, and researching competing businesses.
Bottom line? The mobile consumer is an informed consumer, and it’s never been more important to have your information up-to-date and accurate across all of your online channels.
Plus, 72% of consumers say they trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations, which means, sites like Yelp, could become even more important to your business.
4. Most mobile searches are location-based
“If you’re not on mobile, you don’t exist.”
That’s what Michael Hagan, Chief Rockstar and Chief Operating Officer for LevelUp had to say about the importance of having a presence in mobile web searches at Wednesday’s Traditional Marketing is Dead! What’s your Engagement Strategy panel.
Over 40% of all mobile web searches have local intent. These are people that are currently living or visiting your area, searching for a specific product or service, and who are hoping to discover a local answer to their mobile questions.
In the case of restaurants, 64% of these mobile searches convert to real business within the hour. That’s a huge opportunity for a business looking to attract new customers and tap into the potential of mobile marketing.
Mobile web searches can either be a small business’ dream or its worst nightmare. Take the time to search your place of business for keywords related to the work you do. Make sure that what customers are finding is something that accurately represents your brand. And most importantly, make sure you have a presence on mobile maps!
Tip: The new Apple Maps tool on iPhone and iPad provides Yelp reviews for all local searches. It could be a good idea to claim your business on Yelp to help keep track of what people are finding.
5. Mobile videos have gone viral
If you’re already a smartphone or tablet user, you know that much of the activity that’s done on these devices is, well … less than active.
The fact is, these devices don’t only provide people with endless amounts of information—they also provide an excellent tool for making less use out of free time. (Thanks again, Angry Birds.)
That’s likely why watching online video has become such a popular activity amongst smartphone and tablet users. In the last 18 months, YouTube has seen a 400% increase in mobile viewership. Today more than a fourth of all videos being watched on the video sharing site are being seen on mobile devices.
If you’ve been on the fence of about using video to market your business, now may be the time to rethink your directorial future. Video is a powerful medium for small businesses, and it doesn’t have to cost a dime to create.
6. Mobile will redefine customer service
If you haven’t been monitoring your social networks for customer comments, questions, and complaints —you may want to add it to your list of resolutions for 2013.
Nearly three-quarters of all companies are now using social media as a channel for customer service, and no one does this better than JetBlue. In fact, during the same session that John Caron offered his perspective on the role of smartphones in our daily lives, an attendee sent a tweet and got a response from JetBlue within nine minutes.
Nine minutes. When was the last time you got a question answered by an airline in less than nine minutes?
One in five consumers is already using sites like Facebook and Twitter to have their voices heard. Expect mobile to send that number skyrocketing and for social costumer service to become the norm for businesses of all sizes.
7. The smartphone hasn’t replaced the credit card—yet!
Rumors of the death of plastic payment methods have been greatly exaggerated.
While the mobile community has made some serious strides in reshaping the way we think of things like customer loyalty cards and in-store payment methods, smartphones are a long way away from replacing debit and credit.
According to Andy Miller, Director of Mobile Products for Constant Contact: it’s an issue of convenience.
“It’s about convenience. The consumer will use it if it makes their life easier but if it doesn’t solve a pain point or resolve a problem—they probably won’t.”
Andy went on to say that until smartphones are able to replace the entire wallet, it’s unlikely there will be widespread acceptance of in-store mobile payments.
Moral of the story? Don’t panic if you’re not offering mobile payment options at your place of business—you’re probably better off waiting.
8. Content creation is going mobile
The mobile revolution isn’t only having a profound influence on the lives of consumers, it’s also changing the way business owners—especially small business owners—are marketing their business.
This is especially true when it comes to content creating. Coming up with content ideas for Facebook, Twitter, or an email newsletter is one of the biggest pain points facing small businesses. And while smartphones aren’t guaranteed to alleviate all your content creating anxieties, they do make it easier than ever before to capture content ideas and turn everyday work experiences into engagement posts on Facebook and active-worthy articles for an email newsletter.
Start small, think big, and get ready
Today, less than 1% of marketing budgets are being allocated for mobile.
That’s a huge miss for business owners and, more importantly, a huge disappointment for their growing mobile customer base.
But preparing your business for its mobile future doesn’t have to break the bank. Start by giving the tools you’re already using to market your business another look.
Does your social media marketing strategy fit a mobile world? Does your website offer the type of experience you want on smartphones and tablets? Is your business easily discovered by online searches?
Start small, think big, and begin to plan for a bright future in mobile marketing.
How has mobile mobile impacted your marketing strategy? Tell us in the comments.