The Unforgiving Mobile Customer

Mobile commerce is expected to make up nearly half of all ecommerce by 2018.

Let that sink in for a minute. And then consider the number of stores that do not have any sort of mobile-optimized presence, let alone a high-quality mobile app and website. Perhaps you are one of these individuals? If so, you’re not alone. Unfortunately, your customers may not forgive you for it.

Recent trends indicate that customers are becoming way more discerning about their mobile experiences. For instance, a recent Kissmetrics survey showed that even a one second delay in mobile page load times can result in a 7% decrease in conversions. That same report goes on to indicate that 40% of customers will leave a mobile site if the page doesn’t load in three seconds flat.

If you are an ecommerce merchant, take a moment and load up your site. How long does it take to load? Remember, if it takes over three seconds you are losing nearly half of your potential customers right then and there.

Here’s the good news…there’s no reason to be freaked out! Well, if you don’t take any action I guess there is, but I digress. Just to get your started, realize that most modern ecommerce platforms enable you to check one box on your dashboard to get your mobile site. that is about as simple as it gets, folks, but it is a big step towards making sure your mobile audience continues to love you.

The next step? Get your mobile app. That’s because there are so many native features that allow you to engage with mobile customers that are outright unavailable without an app. There’s also the fact that even low-ball estimates indicate that one-third of customers prefer to engage with businesses through an app. This use to be pretty difficult, and frankly not worth the effort or money. The Apptive platform has changed that and now it is simple to get an app for a low monthly cost.

Your mobile audience will become increasingly important, so it is necessary to create strong relationships with them that will meet their needs. They may be more and more discerning in their mobile tastes, but the ability to engage with them is more accessible than ever before!

Infographic: M-Commerce & You!

There has been a lot of buzz about m-commerce (or “mobile ecommerce”) lately, so we’ve put together an infographic that will let you know a little bit more about this developing trend as well as some strategies you can use to include m-commerce in your business!

M-Commerce & You!

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Please include attribution to Apptive.com with this graphic.

M-Commerce & You!

A Close Look at the Three Types of Mobile Presence

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Businesses are becoming increasingly aware of the need to establish a mobile presence. In fact, the statistics indicate that taking a business mobile may be one of the most profitable methods of customer engagement possible in the near future. But what does going mobile entail, and more basically, what does it look like? It turns out there are numerous methods to take a business mobile. In fact, most businesses have (perhaps inadvertently) baked in some elements of a mobile presence through their activities on popular social sites or other forms of customer communication.

Still, when we refer to a true mobile presence, we are implying a direct link to your business itself, not a page on Facebook or a Twitter profile. With those constraints in mind, there are really three forms of a mobile presence: A full website accessed through a mobile browser, a mobile-optimized website, and a mobile app. As you might expect, there are varying levels of value and functionality for each.

A little over a year ago we discussed three ways to establish a mobile presence. This is a closer look at each of the options, so you can get a better understanding of the differences.

The Full Website Through a Mobile Browser

This is absolutely the most basic form of a mobile presence. Essentially, this is just the same version of your website that people would access from their desktop. It is also the most “convenient” form of web presence, in the sense that you don’t have to actually do anything. Further, it would be wrong to imply that such a presence is useless. People can still access your pages and even interact with your site in basic ways.

Still, the drawbacks are present and in some cases severe. First, traditional web design is meant to be viewed on a relatively large monitor, meaning that something that looks great at full-size may look crowded, confusing or difficult to decipher on a small smartphone screen. Further, there are numerous elements regularly used in websites that just won’t work on certain mobile devices *cough* Flash on iPhones and iPads *cough*. Finally, this type of presence does not capitalize on any of the unique capabilities of smartphones. You can not send or receive direct notifications, detect motion, or leverage location-aware capabilities. Therefore, while a full website through a mobile browser is not a death sentence for your business by any stretch of the imagination, it is not a particularly effective mobile engagement tool.

The Mobile-Optimized Website

A mobile-optimized website addresses several of the user interface issues of the full-website viewed through a web browser. Most importantly, it detects when users are trying to access a website with a mobile device and automatically shifts the design to one formatted for mobile. This helps to clear up confusion and often increases both ease of navigation and aesthetic quality. Finally, the mobile-optimized website is relatively easy to “build.” Some services will even automatically render an existing website into a mobile-optimized version for a small fee.

However, a mobile-optimized site is ultimately a layer placed over an existing website to mask interface problems. This is definitely a step in the right direction, but doesn’t address a fundamental problem of relying on a browser to deliver a mobile experience: it doesn’t take full advantage of smartphone capabilities. Ultimately, a mobile-optimized website serves its purpose as a front-facing customer information channel. However, if you really want to engage with customers you are going to need more functionality.

The Mobile App

Mobile apps might appear very similar to mobile optimized websites at first glance, because they often share similar navigation and design elements. Static content, such as lists of menu items and “About Us” pages will also be almost identical. The major difference comes in the interactive elements a mobile app can afford. If you want to be able to send messages directly to customers smartphones through push notification (thus avoiding email clutter and SMS fees), facilitate the purchase of products and services right from a customer’s smartphone, and integrate with smartphone hardware such as a camera, then the mobile app is the way to go.

Of course, there are some downsides to the mobile app as well. In terms of cost and development time, apps have traditionally been much more expensive compared to mobile-optimized websites. They also require more attention from a business, as stagnant apps are likely to be deleted from customer phones. However, recent developments in software that allow you to build an app yourself do alleviate these issues a great deal, making development time and cost very competitive with the mobile-website optimization.

These are the three ways to establish a mobile presence on a customer’s phone. Clearly, the mobile app offers the greatest customer engagement and direct-sales potential, but the mobile-optimized site does offer some advantages.

Which of these options have you explored for your own business? Have you been engaging in a mobile strategy or have you been holding back?

Core Mobile for Small Business

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The necessity of keen mobile strategy becomes more evident every day. As smartphone ownership and app usage continue to climb dramatically, businesses realize that mobile represents one of the few marketing platforms that presents the opportunity for both micro-targeted efforts and nearly universal appeal. All that being said, many businesses still have only a token presence on mobile, often represented by social interaction or a mobile-optimized website. These are great supplementary marketing avenues, but they are not enough. To become truly successful in the current climate, it is necessary to treat mobile as a primary marketing channel.

Of course, some companies have staked their reputation on mobile marketing. However, these are primarily enterprise-level businesses or tech companies. The reason for this is simple: small businesses treat any new potential investment with suspicion, particularly when it is as modern as the recent trend towards mobile engagement. Somewhat ironically, small businesses have the most to benefit from adopting a core mobile strategy.

Where big-brands can afford to increase top of mind awareness through traditional marketing efforts, they struggle to establish unique and personalized customer interactions. This key differentiator has always existed as a benefit for small business, but for the first time it is possible to furnish those personal relationships on a massive scale.

A mobile-first marketing approach gives small businesses the power to directly approach their customer base and thereby increase top-of-mind awareness without investing a ton of money. Rather, the mobile approach is one that allows the personality of the business to shine through the marketing clutter that consumers regularly encounter. A push notification coming through an app you have specifically downloaded to your device from a company you trust is always more effective than a spammy email.

Generalizations are dangerous, yet it is safe to say that the majority of small businesses would be wise to consider adopting mobile as their primary outreach method. Due to the mass numbers of customers with smartphones, the opportunity to create brand loyalty and mutually beneficial interactions through a mobile device, and the cost-effective nature of mobile marketing efforts businesses can greatly benefit from establishing a mobile presence.