The April 21, 2015 “Mobilegeddon” wasn’t as dramatic as some people believed, but it did signal a sea-change in the way we think about technology. On that day, Google modified the algorithms on its search engines to prioritize searches by mobile devices versus searches by desktop devices. By doing so, Google was responding to a number of realities:
- More people access the internet via a mobile device than from a fixed computer;
- The internet is used ‘on the fly’, by people actively engaged in the search for something and not just as a research tool from a home base;
- Businesses that have the capability to respond quickly to their customers’ needs are more likely to convert a contact or sale, so moving them higher on the ranking pages rewards that foresight.
The Global Mobile Reality
The reality is that mobile devices now account for billions more internet searches than fixed computers. Since Apple introduced the iPhone in 2007, smartphone usage has spread across the globe and now accounts for trillions of dollars in sales worldwide. Apple’s revenues soared from $19B in 2006 (before the iPhone intro) to $182.8B in 2014, with the iPhone accounting for $102B of that volume. In eight short years, smartphone technology (the iPhone and its competitors the Androids, Windows Phones, etc.) has connected international communities like nothing ever before experienced. One commentator likened the iPhone to the Gutenberg Press and the Bible for its impact on a global scale.
One significant reason for the popularity of mobile devices is their multitasking capability. Not just phones, these devices are calculators, search engines, weight and diet trackers, text machines, cameras and theaters, all bound up into a tidy, fist-sized package that rides unnoticed in a pocket or purse. Loss of the device isn’t just loss of contacts (although that can be devastating); it is also the loss of data, images and memories, access to loved ones and helping communities. Consider the statistics:
– Of the 6.8 billion people on the planet, 4 billion own a smartphone;
– As many as 95% of users keep their device within arm’s reach at all times;
– There are five times as many cellphones in the world as there are PC’s (personal computers);
– 90% of text messages get read within three minutes of receipt;
– 70% of mobile searches lead to action within one hour (versus one month for desktop users);
– 81% of smartphone users have researched products on their phones, and 50% have made purchases using their phones.
The data for American users of smartphones is really interesting, too:
– 25% of Americans use only their smartphone to access the internet;
– 90% of American adults own a smartphone, regardless of race or ethnicity;
– 98% of people ages 18-29 carry smartphones; 74% of people over 65 years;
– 98% of people earning $75,000 a year carry smartphones, and 84% of people earning under $30,000 per year do too;
– More than 88% of the population uses a smartphone, in urban, suburban and rural areas.
Clearly, the growth of mobile device usage justifies Google’s recent action. “Mobility” is the fluid foundation for technology access, and it will continue to be so for the foreseeable future. So, how to maximize its potential for optimal business gain?
Mobile Applications Deliver Businesses into the Pockets of Their Customers
Mobile applications (apps) differ from mobile websites in many ways, so considering them as the same in terms of performance and potential ROI isn’t feasible.
A mobile website is often just the main, desk-bound site formatted for the smaller screen of the mobile device. It retains the features and information contained on the main site and is accessible through a browser page. Connecting by phone to the business entity is accomplished with one-touch on the displayed number.
A mobile app, however, is programmed specifically to access the unique functions of the mobile device itself, so it is frequently more adaptable and functional than the website version. Mobile apps are downloaded directly into the device, so no internet browsing is necessary, and they connect simply by touching the icon on the screen. Apps are also developed with specific business goals in mind, so company information and benefits are structured into the user’s experience every time the app is accessed.
Accessing a customer base is the single most significant reason to invest in a proprietary company app. Statistics already prove that people access the internet ‘on the go’ – while moving through their day. No longer tethered to a desk for information purposes, customers and potential customers pull their mobile devices to find restaurants, shopping opportunities and the like while they are actively searching for them. Finding their target through the device and then moving directly to it improves the likelihood of a contact and a sale for that business.
Customer support is also key to retaining existing customers and using their activities to gain more customers. Apps allow friends seeking information to access business information from a trusted source – their friend – again, ‘on the fly’. In effect, the business and its wares, services and supports travel with the customer, in their pocket, available to inform and entice the customer’s community while being active in that community.
And finally, (although not the end of the list of benefits), mobile apps can be used to track the activities and profiles of everyone who uses them. Apps can retrieve data regarding demographics, preferences, dislikes, purchasing volume and other informative marketing data. Additional software can be used to analyze the data as it comes in, to advise on strategic marketing or production plans.
Mobile devices are on track to connect virtually all of the worlds’ population, and increasingly, those connections are made through proprietary business applications. Easily programmed to reflect the unique personality of the business itself, the proprietary business app is like a very versatile business card, except it doesn’t get lost in the laundry. To get your business into the pockets of your customers and their friends, contact us today.