Given that nearly everyone on the planet who is old enough to be a potential customer of yours has a mobile phone, it is imperative that your business takes steps to mobilize now. If your customers haven’t already interacted with you on mobile, they will. Mobilizing simply means making it easy for your customers to interact with you via mobile and determining the best way to reach out to them via mobile with relevant information for them.
Let me start with why the first two steps I am going to share with you are not optional. It is quite simply because the choice to interact via mobile is not in your control, it is literally in the hands of your customer. It is their decision whether to visit your website using their phone, tablet or their desktop computer. If they choose to use their phone and your site is not mobile friendly, then you lose.
Same goes with checking email. If they happen to check email using mobile and your email is too big and bulky to be read easily on the small screen, then it is your email that is ignored. The choice of using mobile is theirs, not yours. Not optional, see what I mean?
3 Steps to Mobilize Your Business Now
1. MOBILIZE YOUR WEBSITE.
Yes, you need to create a mobile version of your website even if you think that smartphones make mobile websites unnecessary. First of all, smartphones are not yet the majority of phones. In the US the smartphone adoption rate is only 35% as of the end of 2011. It is only 30% in Canada. (See Tomi Ahonen’s blog post about smartphone adoption rates for details.) If you do live somewhere where smartphone adoption is much higher, keep reading to see the second reason you need a mobile site.
Secondly, even though smartphone browsers are, for the most part, powerful enough to serve up a desktop site it doesn’t mean that these desktop sites are easy enough to see and/or use on a mobile screen. It is always smart to give mobile visitors an experience that is customized to their mobile device and the choice to use the desktop version if they would rather.
- Short paragraphs that make it easy to read
- The information that your visitors need when they are mobile (hours, location, etc.) prominently featured
- Small sized graphics that don’t take a long time to download
- Calls-to-action that work well on mobile (click-to-call, links that go to mobile commerce enabled pages, etc.)
- All of this powered by a mobile platform that detects when the visiting device is a mobile one and serves up the mobile site
BONUS STEP :
If your business has a physical location that customers visit in person (as opposed to being an online only business, like mine) a very smart step in mobilizing your business is to create a robust Google Places listing. With Google having a reported 98.29% market share of mobile search, it is an absolute no-brainer to use their free business listing service that serves up mobile search results.
2. MAKE YOUR EMAIL MARKETING FRIENDLY.
Quick poll: Do you ever check your email on your mobile phone? Yes, you do, I’m willing to bet on it. And so do your customers. Most of them probably do on a daily basis. Let me ask you this: what happens if the email you so carefully crafted and designed doesn’t even open on their phone? Or when it does it is unreadable?
You know as well as I do that people don’t have time to read their email twice, much less once. So your one chance at getting your email read is to have it opened and read the first time it is encountered. The best way to make sure that happens is to send every email out as if it will be opened on mobile.
A few tips about mobilizing your email:
- Don’t send multiple column HTML emails filled with lots of graphics
- Instead, keep your email design simple. Consider following the principles of “skinny email” as written about here.
- Remember that any calls to action you have in email should also work on mobile.
3. BUILD AN OPT-IN SMS TEXT MESSAGING LIST.
If you are seeking a way to reach past your customers’ crowded email in boxes using a mobile technology that provides relevant value in a hyper timely fashion, you need to look no further than text messaging. Building an opt-in SMS list at this point in time is analogous to beginning an email list in the mid 1990s. The businesses that did it first and did it well reaped great rewards. You have that chance right now.
While email open rates plummet (ironically, even though we are all checking our email on mobile devices) SMS messages are seen instantly or nearly so. And because so few businesses have an SMS list built yet, you have the chance to be one of the few businesses with direct access to your customers wherever they are.
Since I am so avidly against mobile spam in all its forms, I have to say that it is important that you fully understand that any text messaging you send to customers must be done with explicit permission. This is not the post to go into this in detail, just know that it is critical to stay completely above board with text messaging.
A few thoughts about starting an SMS text messaging list:
- The only way to build a list is to launch a campaign that your customers will opt into.
- You must entice them to sign up with a compelling offer – a reason to sign up: a special discount, something for free, information they can only get via mobile, etc.
- When sending out your text messages you want to include a strong call to action, something worth their time and attention and all the details they need to move forward.