Think Mobile, Act Local


The term “mobile strategy” instantly brings to mind the jetset traveler, suitcase in hand, ready to embark upon some great adventure armed with a repertoire of tablets, smartphones and laptops. So, when you discuss a “local mobile” strategy, it almost sounds like an oxymoron. However, most interactions with small business comes from local customers, and your greatest chance of long term success revolves around creating a tribe of loyal local customers.

But how does this ultimately affect your mobile strategy, and how should you structure your app interactions to engage with a local audience? The answer can be broken down into two primary goals, consistency and value. In the same way that businesses want consistent revenue from customer, so too do customers want consistent experiences with a business (note that consistent does not mean boring, it means being consistently remarkable).

The good news is that many small businesses already meet that criteria in their personal interactions with customers. You likely see some familiar faces who frequently visit your business, and have built a rapport with them. The trick is to build the same kind of rapport through your mobile strategy. This sounds easy, but there are a few common areas where small businesses tend to fail.

For one thing, mobile strategies for small businesses are a relatively new development. Only recently have apps and other mobile engagement tools become affordable and functional enough for them. In one sense this is excellent, because companies who act quickly will have a serious advantage over competitors while the strategy is not yet commonplace. The flip side of this, though, is that many small businesses have only been exposed to mobile messaging from large corporate and tech-focused apps. Because of that, businesses sometimes feel that their app messaging and interactions needs to be somewhat detached in order to lend validity. Nothing could be further from the truth. Customers will always gravitate towards technology that reflects a businesses personal, human elements.

Small businesses also encounter difficulty determining the types of deals and advertisements to run. Often they turn to simple, low-cost deals that they believe will draw in more customers due to the immediate value and ease of redemption. However, while someone may very well redeem a deal for a “free soft drink with any purchase” if they are already in the restaurant, such basic offerings are not powerful enough to pull customers in. Offering real value, even if the redemption process is more involved (“Bring in a friend and get two free desserts,” etc.) will intrigue local customers and give them a reason to check out your business.

There are many other local mobile strategies we could discuss, but we’d like to hear from you! How do you generate interest locally, how can you/would you translate that to a mobile strategy? Sound off in the comments!


Second Screens for Small Business


While traditional television advertising methods remain effective for many small businesses, they only represent a surface-level exposure to customers. According to a number of worldwide studies 75%-85% of people use their mobile devices while watching their favorite shows. In what is perhaps an even more telling set of statistics, between 27% and 44% use their devices to explore products or services they have seen advertised on TV. This trend demonstrates two key points: that viewers seek a greater depth of information than that provided by commercials, and that they are turning to their smartphones immediately upon viewing those commercials to conduct product research.

Businesses can capitalize on these trends by ensuring an established presence in the mobile ecosystem. Though mobile-optimized websites and third party information outlets are beneficial for this purpose, a dedicated application offers the opportunity to extend front-of-mind awareness for potential customers. For instance, someone may have looked up dozens of products as a result of advertisements set during a major broadcast. However, they are unlikely to forget the business that offers them a push-notification with a great deal a few days later.

Fortunately, EasyApp allows small businesses to develop an application extremely quickly (and often for a fraction of the cost of a mobile-site). These applications allow for effective targeted engagement that will stretch your advertising dollar. As smartphone adoption rates continue to climb more users will conduct product research via the “second screen.” Build an app in minutes and increase profits by allowing customers to interact with your business on their terms.

Where is My Phone? It’s in My Hand!


I remember when I use to naturally check my pockets often to make sure that I had my wallet. Just a quick check of my pocket to reassure myself that it was there and that I had not left it behind at the house, on the store counter, or at that restaurant. My wallet of course has very important things in it. My driver’s license. My credit cards/bank cards. My pictures of my kids, friends, and family. The business cards of some of my clients and from businesses that I frequent. If I did not feel my wallet in my pocket I would begin a quick search. I would check my local surroundings and then that bowl on my night stand that I would empty my pockets into at the end of the day. If I couldn’t find it there then I would really have to think and retrace my steps to find it.

It almost seems funny to me now. I have come home and when I got to my night stand to empty my pockets like normal I have found my wallet sitting in the bowl. I didn’t even notice that it was not in my pocket, I also didn’t remember how many days I had left it there. Now when I check my pockets I’m not looking for my wallet, I’m looking for my phone. Here is a statistic that I found that put this into perspective.

1) It takes 26 hours for the average person to report a lost wallet. It takes 68 minutes for them to report a lost phone. (Source: Unisys)

I currently use an iPhone 4s. I use my iPhone throughout the day and it is always on me or near my person. When I’m checking my pockets now, that is what I’m searching for. Most of the time when I’m looking for my phone all I need to do is look at my other hand! I can use my smart phone to do so many things now that I often only use a computer while at work. I use my iPhone to find what I’m looking for, how to get there with directions, then research more about the products or services when I get where I’m going. It Is an amazing piece of technology. At this point I can not see myself without my smart phone.

In many ways it has replaced the need for a wallet. I can use it to order and purchase services and goods. It stores thousands of pictures. My contact list for clients is stored right on the device and can easily be searched and retrieved. I can find the number for most anything else with a quick search of the web. Those businesses that I frequent and have an app, I have downloaded it and I can use it to place an order, book a room, purchase tickets, etc. I often find myself returning to those businesses that do have an app, because of the convenience that app has given me.

These smart phone apps have made it easier for me as a customer to stay connected to the companies and businesses I like to do business with and vice versa. I often get the question, “Why do I need an app, when I have a mobile web site?” That is an easy question to answer. You need both. A mobile web site is important to gather new clients that are searching for that new pair of shoes, those tires for their vehicle, or where they will eat lunch today. The mobile web site allows you to grow your business with potential new customers, but your mobile web site does not give you a direct connection back to that customer after they visited your site. A native mobile app puts your business back into that customers pocket or purse.

With Apptive and our EasyApp platform a very robust native app can be developed for your clients so that they can keep in contact with those loyal customers that want to do business with them. A small business now has a direct link to those customer’s pockets, purses, or for some people right into their hands. One of the benefits of EasyApp is the ability to use our “Deals module” to directly send specials or coupons to those customers that have downloaded their app. You do not have that ability with a mobile web site by itself.

One of the other things that I’m sure many people had in their wallets were the old loyalty cards. Go to your favorite sandwich shop and they would stamp your card when you made a purchase. When your card was filled you got your next sandwich free. EasyApp now allows you to put that loyalty card right in the app. We have developed a module that allows your clients to reward those return customers in much the same way those cards worked in the past. The next statistic can also put the last two points into percepective.

2) It costs a business about 5-10 times more to acquire a new customer than it does to sell to an existing one — and on average those current customers of yours spend 67% more than a new one. (Source: Inc.)

So, get started helping your clients reach those loyal customers. Help them get into that pocket or purse and on their smart phones. You now have the ability to answer the question of mobile web site or native app. You can tell them both, and you will have the tool to provide them with an app. At the end of the day we are all looking to get to the last thing we still need a wallet or purse for, MONEY. The technology is already there that we will not even need that. The only question I have for your client, “Are you going to lose clients to that competitor down the road that already has an app?”

Learn more about Apptive and the EasyApp platform at

Role of Apps in Customer Acquisition and Retention


Consumers will download more than 66 billion mobile applications per year by 2016, more than double the 31 billion apps installed in 2011, according to a new forecast issued by Juniper Research.

The Juniper report contends mobile apps will play an increasingly crucial role in brands’ customer acquisition and retention strategies. “Consumers are now demanding 24/7 access to services–retail, financial, information, entertainment–wherever they are,” said report author Windsor Holden. “As a result, brands that wish to remain competitive have turned to apps as part of a integrated multichannel distribution system: they have become a critical mechanism to increase engagement and reduce churn.”

This notion expressed by the Juniper analyst is as relevant for local and small to medium size businesses as it is for large national and global brands. This thesis is at the heart of the Apptive EasyApp platform and is why we developed it for digital service providers. Enabling clients with mobile apps is strategically important to them remaining competitive, but currently it’s expensive and complex to get them there. We’ve developed an easy, fun way to achieve this goal while still providing the flexibility to create a totally custom app.

For clients, getting an app these days is equal parts a defensive and offensive consideration. It’s defensive in so much as, if a potential customer is doing a search on mobile and a competitor has an optimized mobile presence that is easy to interact with and you don’t – who do you think the customer is going to choose to do business with? They will choose the path of least resistance. An app can be an offensive play because smartphones offer such unique and powerful functionality that apps can take advantage of to create real time business opportunities, increase customer loyalty and so much more.

Ok, that’s all I’ve got for now – check back soon!

Three Ways to Establish a Mobile Presence


A prospective customer asked me a good question the other day: “What are the different ways I can have a mobile presence right now?”. I thought this might be a useful topic to briefly cover for everyone.

There are three primary ways you can think about getting a mobile presence. They are:

1) Let customers find your regular website on their mobile browser of choice.
2) Create a mobile optimized version of your website and let customers find that from their mobile browser of choice.
3) Create a mobile app and let customers find and interact with directly from their smartphone.

I’ll layout how each of these options measure up below.

Regular Website Mobile Website Mobile App
Formatted For Smartphone No Yes Yes
Installed on Smartphone No No Yes
Offline Access No No Yes
Leverages Smartphone Capabilities No Some Yes

So which way should you go? Obviously we’re strong proponents of the mobile app route.

That’s why we’ve created EasyApp – so you can get an app for your business or organization, stand out from the crowd, and create a way for your customers to connect with you from their always-on, location aware devices/smartphones. And the best part is no coding is required so you can do it yourself.

Marketing Your Business with an iPhone App


I was thinking today about best practices around marketing your business with an iPhone app. Some of the things I came up with are obvious and a few may not be, but I think all are useful to consider while you’re getting up and going with an app.

First thing is first: getting customers to download your app. In order to make your app a useful marketing channel you first have to get your customers to download it. It won’t magically appear on their iPhones – you have to let them know about it! Following are some ideas to drive downloads of your app.

  • Promote your app in your place of business: place flyers, stickers, table tents, etc. around your place of business that say: “Download Our iPhone App at the App Store”.
  • Promote your app in the same places you promote your website and Facebook pages right now – on your menus, at the bottom of your receipts, in-store signage, etc.
  • In fact, promote your app ON your website and Facebook page. You can also place a direct link to your app in these places to make it very easy for people to find. To get that link, simply right click on the app icon on your app’s homepage in iTunes and select copy.
  • Promote your app on your email distribution list and your blog if you you’ve got them. Place a direct link to your app in those places too.
  • Give your customers incentive to download your app. Offer some sort of special, coupon or other deal that only people with the app can get.
  • Come up with creative deals like: Get three friends to download our app, bring them in and get this deal.

Now to some best practices about using your app to reach those customers who have downloaded it:

  • Keep the info in your app up to date: If your info is out of date, customers will not view your app as a live channel.
  • Don’t send push offers out too often or else customers will tune them out and maybe view your messages as spam.
  • When sending push offers, make sure they are of significant value to your customers. If an offer or message isn’t perceived to be valuable, customers may tune our your next push.
  • Create offers specific to app users and incent them to share these deals with friends.

So, those are the thoughts I came up with today – I hope they are helpful to you. Check back often because this is a topic we’ll continue to develop and explore.