The steady growth of mobile devices with full access to the Web and Internet has produced a critical mass of users. About 32 percent of the U.S. population (100 million people) now use cell phones to access the Internet, according to the most recent research from eMarketer, a large online research firm. But how well do you know the smart phone user? Here are a few statistics from Google:
* 70 percent have used their smartphones while shopping in a store
* 88 percent of people looking for local information have taken action within a day
* 82 percent of smartphone users notice mobile ads
The adoption and use of mobile devices is growing far faster than any other personal technology in the past. What has taken the desktop Internet 10 years is now taking the mobile Internet only 5 years, according to Mary Meeker from the venture firm Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield and Byers who spoke at the Google Think Mobile conference in February. “Our bet is that we’re starting to see an acceleration in the number of mobile Internet users,” she said.
Fueling the growth of mobile media is the fact that people can get what they want, when and how they want it. Every day, more than 200 million videos are consumed online and major TV networks make episodes of primetime shows available for on-demand viewing. In a typical American family Dad might watch sports on ESPN.com, mom might be on Facebook and the kids are probably watching YouTube videos or Hulu.com. It’s not uncommon for three or more devices to be connected to the Internet at once in a single household.
This personalized, on-demand use of mobile media is affecting every industry in some way, starting with the entertainment, music, finance and retail sectors. The ability to create, share and engage with content is providing new and exciting opportunities. But many businesses owners aren’t hearing the call.
Consider the fact that people who search for information on their mobile phones are far more likely to act that information within one day or less. For example, a person searching for a restaurant on their mobile device is much more likely to eat there than someone who makes the same search from their desktop connected at home. And the time of day changes intentions as well. Someone looking for a store on Saturday at 2p.m. might have a different reason for their search than someone else on a Monday morning. Saturdays are tied to purchases and Mondays are tied to more returns. But most businesses aren’t looking at this data or aren’t engaging with mobile customers in a meaningful way.
Here are three steps you can take to get your business mobile-ready:
1. Explore the possibilities. At a minimum, use an iPhone, Blackberry and Android device to look at your website on those platforms. If you don’t like the experience then neither will your customers. Start planning now for how you can optimize your website for mobile. Look at retailers like BestBuy and Petco for examples. Consider all the ways mobile has the potential to affect your business, and start putting strategies into your planning efforts now. Imagine yourself in your customer’s shoes. What are ways you can use mobile services to innovate your business? How can you use mobile to stand out from the crowd? Think about why your customers come to you. What do they need most from you? Make that content mobile-ready.
2. Invest accordingly. How much are you investing in your website each year? Five percent of your operating budget or less? And of that budget, how much are you investing in mobile? Maybe 10 percent? The impact mobile will have on your business will likely require more than 10 percent of a 5 percent budget. Don’t let your business get left behind. If you invest in mobile now, you may gain a competitive advantage over others who do not respond as quickly. Take the effort to make your mobile experience top-notch.
3. Take Action Now! Remember back in 1997, a couple years after the Netscape browser first launched? Most businesses had no website, much less a webmaster. Eventually, someone volunteered to be the “Web guy” and it was another five or six years before the CEO realized how important the company website was. But by then it was too late. Don’t repeat history this time. According to Google, 20 percent percent of all search traffic comes from mobile devices right now. Business owners don’t have five years to get mobile right. Start now. Do as much as you can.
North Hawaii resident Laura Kinoshita is a certified Inbound Marketing Educator and author of the West Hawaii Social Media Survey, the first look at how West Hawaii businesses are using social media to market their business. Connect with her at http://www.laura-kinoshita.com