4 Important Reasons Why Businesses & Entrepreneurs should Use Smartphones & Tablets to Engage Customers

With the emergence of smartphones and tablets, making cellphones and laptops obsolete, entrepreneurs and businesses must be prepared to take up this trend and reality where their customers would most likely be communicating to them via smartphones and tablets – Giving the customers more avenues to research about businesses and to pick the best offers that suit them. The marketplace is just going to get more fierce as we enter into a another age of the Tech Wars for the already limited customer’s attention and time.

The Impact Of Smartphones & Tablets On Businesses

It is hard to ignore the dynamic and rapid growth of smart devices, the evolution of the web and fast data networks which drives the new behavior of consumers and businesses.

According to Business Insider, from 2009 to 2012 the number of smartphones sold exceeded the numbers of PC’s sold globally. Based on the devices sales forecast, in just a couple of years the sales of tablets will soon overtake the numbers of smartphones. Which means, most individuals will soon in one way or another own both a smartphone and a tablet.

On top of that, mobile operators are transitioning from 3G towards HSPA+, 4G WiMAX and 4G LTE networks as well as deploying wide-coverage Wi-Fi Hotspot networks. With established network infrastructure providing fast speed mobile connectivity to support the quick growth of smart mobile devices, it is apparent that mobile eco-system is providing the perfect platform for mobile applications to be developed exponentially.

So what does this evolution of the mobile eco-system mean to consumers and businesses? – everything. As we progress into a converged lifestyle with integrated devices and services, the behavior of both consumers and business are also rapidly evolving. People are doing things differently and more efficiently, what used to work in the 80’s & 90’s may not work as effectively for businesses now.

According to Gartner analyst Kimberly Harris-Ferrante, “Industry business models will be challenged through 2015 as customers continue to adopt an always-connected digital lifestyle.”

Here are some mobile implications for business to be aware of which may impact your business directly or indirectly.

1) Participative Customer Engagement

With unlimited creative ways of increasing engagement with customers, businesses can take advantage of mobile web or mobile native apps to continuously engage and interact with customers. Participative marketing creates the best and most memorable impact for customers.

Businesses are now able explore innovative methods to market, communicate, sell or retain customers by utilizing available mobile technologies or services which are trending now such as Enhanced LBS (Location Based Services), Augmented Reality (AR), Social Media, Video On Demand, Social gaming, or Mobile Marketing.  It could be small tactical steps or long-term strategies. Going mobile does not necessarily mean you have to spend a bomb.

With multiple ways to reach out to your customers, be sure to rethink your mobile app strategy to leverage and create additional distribution and communication channels.

2) Mobile Advertising

Digital advertising has extended to mobile platforms quite naturally with many mobile advertising platforms out there which facilitate and connect advertisers with developers such as Amobee, Apple iAd, Google Admob and Mobclix just to name a few.

Businesses can leverage on different types of mobile advertising which range from the usual in-app static banner ads to more sophisticated interactive in-game advertising to build brand loyalty such as KIIP and location based mobile social service like Chalkboard. There are mobile ad services that you can subscribe to by only paying for performance, which means you only pay when the ad has a conversion, a fair model for small businesses. Mobile ads may or may not be useful to your business, therefore do your research on the performance, reach and target audience the ad platform will be able to deliver. Depending on your purpose and objective of your business, feel free to explore the different engagement models of mobile advertising that suits your needs and budget.

3) M-Commerce

M-Commerce is the capability to sell or buy products or services on a mobile device such as mobile phone, smartphone or tablet.  For m-commerce to be successful, your business must strategize and have a website, store, platform, app designed for optimal view and user experience to enable customers to make a purchase or transaction through their mobile device.

With the increase of NFC (Near Field Communication) embedded devices, m-payments is slowly increasing but not anywhere near mass adoption yet besides Japan, as wireless terminals for merchants are not widely installed in many countries and the culture of mobile payments is still fairly new to certain cash-centric countries.

In any case listing on a e-commerce platform which supports m-commerce is the least a business could do. According to an eBay survey has found that one in six Australian businesses don’t know how to invest in mobile commerce, while 40% of respondents lack the knowledge to make informed mobile investments. Businesses should research on m-commerce platforms and applications which can help expand their sales distribution channels.

4) Increasing Internal Productivity

Besides external impact on businesses, companies can improve performance and efficiency by leveraging on mobile technologies. There are many good quality and affordable cloud based software-as-a-service (Saas) apps to aid in workforce automation, sales management, HR & Finance, integrated ERP, CRM, mobile POS and unified communications.

With seamless data connectivity, businesses can now save time and reduce cost to increase productivity of results.  The main challenge is not so much of finding the suitable app or platform, but more on adoption. The larger the company, the tougher it is to get everyone to learn and use a certain tool. Therefore investing a simple yet powerful tool accompanied with a little team how-to training session would be a good way to get the ball rolling.

As much as businesses has to be aware and integrate mobile technologies into their operations whether it’s for communication, branding, marketing, sales or business process improvement, keep in mind that technology is an enabler and it is essential to always stay focused on the quality and innovation of your core product or service offering.  Nothing says more than a worthy and great product.

To view the slide deck of “The Future Of Mobile” presentation by CEO of Business Insider (Henry Blodget) click here