This is a guest blog post from Megan Totka, chief editor of ChamberOfCommerce.com.
Mobile technology is not one thing. It’s not just a type of phone or a data plan. It’s not just an application or a QR code. Mobile technology is all these things and more.
It’s technology in the form of cellular communication. It is a way of life now.
In my opinion, mobile technology is the future of all communications for your business, internally and externally. Worldwide internet usage has nearly doubled in the past five years. There are over 2,400 million internet users on the planet. They (and you) believe in the creation of the social web and mobile technologies are the key reasons for this substantial climb.
Technology has grown so rapidly that marketing has been able to take on a whole new form. Large corporations have been able to stick with the traditional television, radio, and paper marketing. Because of the expense, many small businesses have relied on more basic ways to spread information about their business: customer loyalty and word of mouth.
For years, mom and pop businesses remained open because of their personal touch and their expertise in product or service. Nowadays though, the big companies are getting better and better imitating the strengths of the small ones but doing one better with lower costs and better advertising. With the increase in social media and technology, this has opened the window for small businesses to gain an edge again.
Facebook, Twitter, and other online networking sites allow small businesses to reach millions of customers with little to no cost to operate a fan or business page. This has allowed small businesses to stay on the map but are they still missing out on a key demographic?
Is your small business taking advantage of mobile technology? It’s been said that smartphones and tablets hamper the creativity of users but I’m not talking about using the mobile technology that way. Instead, having instant access to email, texting, phone calls, and even social media sites, small businesses can pull ahead in the personal touch department again.
Think of the customer service you typically get at your local big box store. If you end up having a problem, the managers at the store have little to no control to really bend over backwards for you. If you’re like me, you go on their website and try to contact their corporate office in hopes that maybe it will lead somewhere. In my experience, it never does. I get an email response maybe three days later and while it’s nice, it doesn’t help.
Now imagine a similar experience in a small store. The manager is likely the owner or has a close contact with the owner. If you still choose to not address it until later, you hop on the internet, email the business and get a response just a few hours later, a personal phone call even. This is what mobile technology can do. You’re likely to get quicker answers to general questions or suggestions as well.
The advantages for small businesses having mobile technology are not just for customers. This instant communication can connect employees and managers faster. It can help owners manage their customer relations, keep track of contacts for email marketing, and quickly post updates for sales and promotions or other relevant business information using Twitter and Facebook free apps.
Many small businesses have even begun taking mobile technology to the next step but replacing their laptops or even desktops with tablets. This keeps everything a business owner needs at his side at all times.
This mobile usage is great for small businesses but they need to embrace the technology and expand further. They need to develop QR codes and apps. Some small businesses don’t even have a website yet. The technology is not going away. Just because the business has been in your family for 40 years and never made changes, doesn’t mean it will continue to be successful without this expansion.
The growth of mobile technology is being hampered by companies rushing into production on smartphone friendly websites or applications to use. Mobile websites currently only have a success rate of 59%. This is an increase from the average 30-40% rates we saw five years ago when the original iPhone was released but it does mean 41% of websites continue to not work correctly from mobile devices. There’s still work to be done from companies entering this new market but it’s definitely an important market to be in.
Mobile technology may be the answer to take your small business into the future. If you aren’t already using it, it’s time to start putting this tool in your back pocket.
This isn’t just preaching about the greatness of mobile technology. This is a necessity your business may not have or may not be using to its full potential. Internet usage has increased every year since the beginning of the millennium. Are you being left behind?