Most of you have read the statistics. 65% of smartphone users have made a mobile purchase this year. The mobile retail industry will exceed 12 billion dollars by 2014 (a little more than a year away). You can’t go anywhere without seeing everyone on their iPhone, Android, or tablet and trust me, they aren’t all texting. Shoppers or potential shoppers are researching your business not only before they arrive (whether they choose your business or another), but also even while in the store. Price comparison is easily done on-the-go with a mobile device so business owners need to be competitive.
So, what is a business owner or manager to do? Ignore this trend as a fad that will soon die off? Not a good strategy as the projections are astronomical. If you do not have a strong mobile presence and are actively engaging your customers, you have competitors who will be glad to do so. This phenomenon isn’t unique to particular industries such as electronics or clothing stores but it is in all business niches. Customers can search for your business, compare it to others, make a purchase, and even review your business all at the same time on their smartphone or tablet.
What kind of strategy should a business owner strive for in this mobile economy? Most importantly, your website should be at least mobile-friendly, if not a dedicated mobile site. Again, stats show that mobile searches are rapidly approaching those done on desktop and laptop computers. If your site doesn’t display on a smartphone or is difficult to view and navigate, shoppers will look elsewhere.
Secondly, a strong presence on directory and review sites, such as Yelp, Merchant Circle, City Search, etc. is a must. Your customers search for and review your business on these sites and they can’t find you if you aren’t there. Additionally, Google and other major search engines like content from directory sites and will list a business higher who shows up regularly via reviews and engagement.
Finally, your business needs to be capturing leads and marketing to that list of leads. For example, if your restaurant has a “VIP Club” and offers discount coupons to diners who opt-in (they register their name and contact info), they benefit by getting discounts and other valuable info but you benefit as well by being able to market new items or programs to them in the future. Remember, it isn’t spam if they gave you permission by registering first.
It may sound like a lot of stuff for a local business or restaurant owner to manage but there are many companies who specialize in mobile and directory site optimization. Give it a try yourself and if you hit a snag, contact a pro.