Taking your business mobile

Being part of the mobile revolution can help your business get new customers and stay cutting-edge. But develop a careful mobile strategy before spending any money.

Taking your business mobile has a few different connotations; which you choose will depend largely on your small business’ needs, budget and audience. There are now over 100 million smart phones sold each quarter, so it’s only natural that you should want to reach some of that audience through their phones.

But first, analyze your target market. Do they use smart phones? Would being able to connect with your brand through a phone make sense? If you sell products to the senior citizen market, who are not big buyers of smart phones, your mobile efforts would be wasted.

Option 1: Optimize Your Site for Mobile

One way to “go mobile” is to create a mobile-friendly version of your website. Because websites are large and require scrolling, the way most are built for computers is difficult to view on a small phone screen.

If you’re not technical or don’t have someone on staff with the experience to convert to a mobile site, hire a mobile website developer. An experienced firm can take your existing website and modify versions of it for the most popular smart phones, like iPhone, Android and Blackberry. You’ll want to make versions for each phone’s operating system, as the market is still so divided among the major brands. Focus on only one phone type, and you’ll frustrate owners of other styles.

If a developer isn’t in your budget, look at DIY mobile website builder option like mobiSiteGalore. The only drawback to tools like these is that they provide templates, which may not match your existing site well enough for your tastes. Still, they’re simple enough for anyone to use, and can get you started with a mobile version of your site until you can afford to customize it.

Before Spending Money:

Before investing in a mobile optimized website, ask yourself these questions:

  • Does our audience access the internet via smart phones?
  • Do people want to view our site on the go?
  • Would optimizing provide increased web visits?
  • What’s our budget for this?
  • How can we market our optimized site?

Option 2: Build an App

The other half of the mobile equation is mobile app development. Brands are trying to find ways to connect with consumers through applications that are useful or amusing. The key is creating one that will get more than a passing glance, when there are hundreds upon hundreds of apps to choose from.

If you want to develop an app for your company, first think strategically about what would be a good fit for your brand. Store locator apps are so 2010, so avoid those at all costs. Instead, think about what your brand represents and how you can make your customers’ lives easier or more fun. Here are some ideas:

  • For an eco-friendly products company, an app could give information on how long a given object takes to decompose in a landfill, and show recycling locations.
  • A pet products company could offer an app to find other pet owners in your area.
  • An accounting firm could offer a free tax tips app.
  • A toy company could create a fun learning app for kids.

Brainstorm a list of app ideas and choose the top one based on your team’s input. Just like with website optimization, you can hire an application design firm or do it yourself. Ultimately, the design firm will be able to create exactly what you want to spec, while the DIY version may have limited functionality.

And again, aim for a version of the app for each major phone brand to reach the most people.

From here, link to the app download on your website, and promote it through social media, your blog and email. If you’ve gotten the app in the iTunes, Android and Blackberry marketplaces, you can decide whether to charge for it or give it away for free. If your ultimate goal is to direct people back to your site and buy from you, it should be free. On the other hand, if you want to use the app as another revenue stream, test different price points.

Before Spending Money:

  • Who is your target audience for your products? Make sure they are the same ones you’re gearing the app towards.
  • Would you buy or download this app if it wasn’t yours? Make sure it’s exciting enough to generate buzz.
  • What ROI do you expect from this? Is it monetary, or are you looking for more web traffic?

Last Words

Keep in mind it’s not necessary (yet) to go mobile, especially if your core clients aren’t there. Make sure your strategy includes solid reasons for jumping into the mobile market, and that you’re not just doing it because everyone else is.

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