Black Friday’s Record Sales Driven by Mobile Devices, Finds Report

Black Friday's Record Sales Driven by Mobile Devices, Finds Report
HIGHLIGHTS
Adobe’s survey estimated sales of $3.05 billion on Black Friday 2016
Mobiles drove the majority of retail sites visits at 56 percent
iOS continued to drive larger sales than Android
In a first, online shopping on Black Friday is estimated to have hit the $3 billion mark in the US with a major chunk of the total sales coming from mobile devices, a report said on Saturday.

Adobe Digital Insights, which has been tracking e-commerce transactions, estimated sales of $3.05 billion (roughly Rs. 20,918 crores) on Black Friday 2016 – up 11.4 percent from the same day last year.

A TechCrunch report, citing the Adobe survey, noted mobiles had a significant impact on the record e-commerce sales on Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday.

“Major retailers, like Amazon, Walmart, Target and eBay, noted that mobile traffic and sales were on the rise,” the report said.

Walmart and Target said the website traffic on Thanksgiving for mobile stood at over 70 percent and 60 percent respectively.

“This trend continued into Black Friday, as the sales event is currently tracking to bring in $1.13 billion (roughly Rs. 7,751 crores) in revenue, which is up 25 percent year-over-year,” the report noted.
In retail stores also, mobiles drove the majority of retail sites visits at 56 percent – most of that (47 percent) was from smartphones, as opposed to tablets (9 percent).
“The negative impact on online shopping we saw following the election has not been fully made up, but consumers are back online and shopping,” Tamara Gaffney, Principal Analyst and Director, Adobe Digital Insights, was quoted as saying.

“As spending ramps up on Black Friday, we are back on track. We still expect Cyber Monday to surpass Black Friday and become the largest online sales day in history with $3.36 billion,” she added.

In addition, iOS continued to drive larger sales than Android. The average order value on iOS devices was $144 compared with $136 on Android.

Adobe also noted this year’s top-selling electronics were Apple iPad tablets, Samsung 4K TVs, the Apple MacBook Air laptops, LG TVs, and Microsoft Xbox consoles.

Tags: Black Friday, Black Friday 2016, Electronics, Mobiles, Smatphones, Tablets, E Commerce, Black Friday Sales

[“Source-Gadgets”]

Top 7 Mistakes With Mobile Friendly Web Design

033015 google mobile

Unless you’ve been staying away from the Internet these last few weeks, you know that on April 21 Google is going to be rolling out a mobile optimization algorithm (and if you need more information, we’ve covered the announcement here). According to Google’s Zineb Ait Bahajji from the Webmaster Trends team, this is going to be one of the biggest updates we’ve seen from Google to date in terms of how many people will be affected — bigger than Panda and Penguin — although no specific number was given.

While April 21 is the day that’s since been labeled the “Mobile-Pocalypse,” it’s important that small businesses start putting mobile best practices into action immediately. The efforts you’re making now will matter come April 21, and if you wait until just a few days before, it could be too late. Fortunately, Google is making this update very easy for us by telling us exactly what mistakes most businesses are making when it comes to mobile.

The 7 Most Common Mistakes Webmasters Make When Optimizing for Mobile

As discussed above, Google actually created a guide that outlines all of the most common mistakes that they find Webmasters make when they try and get their websites mobile-friendly. And so, without further ado, below are the top seven mistakes straight from the horse’s mouth along with links that take you to a full report for each specific point:

Blocked JavaScript, CSS, and Image Files

If the Googlebots are unable to access JavaScript, CSS, and image files, indexing is going to be harder because the Googlebot is not able to see your site like the average users. This usually occurs if your site’s robots.txt file disallows crawling, which again, poses a problem for indexing and will bring down your rankings:

How to fix it: Use the Fetch as Google feature in Google Webmaster Tools so that you can see how a Googlebot is seeing your content. You should also check your robots.txt in Google Webmaster Tools and test your mobile pages with the Mobile-Friendly Test. All three of these options will help you identify any indexing problems.

Unplayable Content

The last thing Google wants to see is a video that is unavailable to users because that is an annoying experience. Many content types, such as Flash, do not work on all mobile devices and therefore cause unplayable content.

How to fix it: Use HTML5 standard tags for animation and use video embedding that is playable on all devices. Google Web Designer can help make it easy to create animations in HTML 5 so that your content is more widely accessible.

Faulty Redirects

This happens most often if you have separate mobile URLs because it forces you to redirect mobile users on each desktop URL to the right mobile URL. Unfortunately, many companies do this wrong and sendevery mobile user to the desktop homepage, for example, which is incorrect because that isn’t what the mobile user asked for when he/she clicked.

How to fix it: The solution here is easy: Use a responsive web design. This will automatically serve the same content for both desktop and smartphone users. You can also check the Smartphone Crawl Errors of your Webmaster Tools and you can simply see if any faulty redirects were detected.

Mobile-Only 404s

Sometimes companies have their websites setup so that users can see a page on a desktop, but when they try to visit that same page on a mobile device there is a 404 error. The key here is to make sure that you have an identical page that can be served on mobile (see number 3 above) and then redirect users to that URL instead of serving a 404 error.

How to fix it: Check the Crawl Errors report in Webmaster Tools and look at the smartphone tab to see if any URLs are 404 errors. Once again, a responsive Web design should also fix this problem.

App Download Interstitials

If your business has a native app, it’s important that you make sure you don’t have any indexing issueswhen promoting that app. In other words, make sure that users can still see the page’s content and not just a large app advertisement. Visit the link above to see a great screenshot.

How to fix it: Use a simple banner to promote your app inline with the page’s content. Google recommends Smart App Banners for Safari to help.

Irrelevant Cross-Links

It makes sense that if you have mobile URLs and separate desktop URLs to try and link to each on the opposite platform. Unfortunately, many companies are linking to URLs that are irrelevant, such as the homepage you would see on a desktop when someone is reading about a product on mobile.

How to fix it: Always check your links to make sure they’re pointing to the most relevant (or identical) pages!

Slow Mobile Pages

This one is pretty self-explanatory. If your pages are loading too slowly this is especially problematic for mobile search because people are usually on the go.

How to fix it: Use Google PageSpeed Insights to see not only what might be causing your pages to load slowly but how to fix the issues.

The Takeaway

In the end, anything you hear from Google should be your first move. If you were unsure how to even begin preparing a mobile presence, start with the tips above and go down the list. Once you’ve fixed some of these common mistakes, you should be able to see clearly other things you can do to enhance your efforts. Do you have any thoughts on some of these tips from Google? Are you ready for the mobile update in April? Let us know in the comments below.


Google Mobile Photo via Shutterstock

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Six Eye-Opening Mobile Trends for 2016

Six Eye-Opening Mobile Trends for 2016

A big problem that so many businesses face is staying on top of what is new in the niche.  But just because something is hard does not mean it’s not possible.  Generating new ideas often comes after a good hard look at what’s on the horizon.  An easy and effective way to do this is with a close examination of what is trending in your business’ market.

Those of us in the mobile business face great challenges when it comes to following trends because technology is changing so fast.  As soon as one idea becomes popular, it is quickly washed away — only to be replaced by something newer, faster, smaller, and more portable.  That is unless you dig deep and find what is on the horizon.

Here are six eye-opening mobile trends for 2016.  By looking at them, you can help yourself think through your next mobile venture.

Keep Your Eye on These 6 Mobile Trends in 2016

Invest in Smart Phone App Development

Smart phones will soon be to future generations what rotary phones were to the “Happy Days” generation, and the numbers support this growth.  This means that the demand for applications for these phones will be on the rise.

Investing in smart phone app development will certainly yield profit.  In fact, Android’s market grew 65 percent in 2015.

Whether you are considering investing in an app for your business or you are tossing around the idea of starting a white label app development company of your own, you are certain to generate some income and stay current with the market trends.

Knowing How to Use Data Driven Decisions is the Key to Marketing

If your business is not using data to make decisions, it’s a good bet that you are close to (if not already) a failed venture.  You have to use data as the backbone of your decisions — especially if you are in the mobile industry.

Data acquisition in 2016 isn’t the challenge that it was years ago.  It has become much easier to collect and much easier to sort.  If you want numbers, you can get your hands on just about any type of numbers you want.  The key is what you do with those numbers.

Your goal should be to use the data to make connections with potential clients. So what if you know that Mrs. Smith visited Store XYZ seven times in the past month on her mobile device. The trick is finding out how Mrs. Smith’s visits to store XYZ can help your mobile business.

The first step in the puzzle is assuring that your IT department and your marketing department has clear lines of communication.  A solid plan for sharing the information is the first step to utilizing the data you collect.

From there, you need a good team that can actually interpret the data.  Ultimately, your goal in any mobile venture is to find a way to simplify the lives of users.  Your team of data analysts needs to be able to interpret the data and supply it to your marketing department.

After your marketing department is given numbers and statistics that are easy to understand, it needs to take creative and innovative risks based on the numbers.  The more you learn about mobile users and their patterns of use, the easier it will be to simplify their lives.

Of course, there are always going to be people who are just able to follow their gut when it comes to innovation and creative thinking.  If you have one of those guys on your team — you know the type, anything he touches turns to gold — don’t dismiss him.

But for the most effective and practical solutions, look at the data and invest in a team that can interpret the numbers to mean something beneficial to your mobile business.

Say What You Need to Say — 2016 Technology Has Your Back

Don’t hold back what’s on your mind.  In fact, in the near future, you will be able to speak it right to your computer.  The best part — it will understand you.  Many of the industries biggest and brightest are battling with young and innovative start-ups to see who will figure out the best and most effective way to use voice computer interfaces.

Most computers come equipped with some type of voice recognition software, but as we journey into the future, these software applications will become much more innovative, which will allow computers to become even more involved in our day to day routines.

Your desktop is not the only form of technology that is listening to what you have to say. Most mobile devices are already equipped with some sort of voice recognition. Mobile devices are also jumping on board to develop voice recognition apps.  Companies across the globe are looking to develop the most responsive voice apps to stay abreast of the changing trends in the mobile market.

While we are not reaching “Jetsons” status just yet, there are several companies breaking ground in this niche, and it is certainly something to pay close mind to.

“Push” Those Ads — It’s the New way to Spread the Word

Push notifications are a great way to get information into the hands of your customers, and the numbers support it.  First of all, 2/3 of the population owns a smart phone.  And that 66 percent of people check their phones approximately 46 times per day.

That means that you have 46 opportunities EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. to send push notifications to people who chose to download your app.

With modern technology, you can use radiused and geofenced push notifications to offer promotions to consumers when they are near your stores.  To top off the benefits of the push, the best part is there are character limits, so you can say what you need to say in a short and sweet notice.  There’s no need for elaborate and creative copy.

SMS Marketing is the New Social Media

The social media craze has made its mark in advertising — there’s not doubt there.  You have to have a strong social media presence so your customers can engage with your brand.  They virtually do the legwork for you by sharing what you have to say.  But, it’s time to look past social media.  You need to look for even faster and more personalized ways to reach people.

In the past, this was called telemarketing.  Today, telemarketing is a good way to upset people and get called a name or two.  But, this is largely because people are engaging less and less in phone conversations and more and more in text communication.

Phone calls are a thing of the past.  Heck, you don’t even need to call to order a pizza or make a hotel reservation anymore, you can just text your request.  In fact, the research shows that 73 percent of people text.  Of those 73 percent of people, 55 percent of them send over 50 text messages each day.  As SMS messaging becomes the preferred means of communications, it makes sense to use it to advertise.

SMS marketing lets your customers engage with your brand on a personal level.  In fact, app developers are making messaging platforms that are starting to rival the built-in texting applications that come with phones.  Products such as Handcent, Chomp, and Hoverchat, are dominating the Android market.

What this means to you is that you virtually have a direct line to your consumers pockets.  You can tell them everything they want to know about your product.

Let Millennials and Generation Z Guide Your Thinking

Gone are the days of, “If you will build it they will come.”  Today, app developers have to build apps to simplify the lives of their users.  Simply put, this means that you need to look at the subsets of consumers who have technology needs that need met.  Enter Millennials and Generation Z users.

These guys are the ones who are filling the social media feeds with their thoughts, and they are the ones advertising their every move online — and they are doing it from their smartphones.

This means opportunity for you.  What are they talking about?  What do they need?  These kids put it all out there.  Use this to your advantage.  Find out what they need based on what they are saying, then build it.

Conclusion

If you want to compete in the mobile industry, you have to do your homework.  This means looking at the past and learning what has worked, and what has failed.  It also means looking at the data and trying to predict what is needed in the future.

By paying close mind to what’s trending in the industry, you can set yourself up for a successful mobile venture.  These six eye-opening trends should get your wheels spinning.  Look to apply them to what you know about the business and with some hard work, you can develop the next must have app in the store.

Using Smartphone Photo via Shutterstock

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2016 Is the Year Small Businesses Must Develop Mobile Apps

mobile phone using

Apps are no longer considered merely a “branding exercise” for small businesses. Business owners are becoming wise to the marketing power a well-designed, intuitive app can bring. From simplifying online purchases to providing easy-to-access information, the benefits are undeniable which is why small businesses must develop mobile apps to stay competitive.

Why Small Businesses Must Develop Mobile Apps

In previous years, the rising cost of custom app developers made apps an impossible expense for small businesses. The recent growth of software development kits that streamline the app development process and allow even non-coders to create a fully-functioning app have dramatically reduced the cost of creating an app.

The affordability and fast development times these kits allow has encouraged more businesses than ever to create their own apps.

As social media use continues to rise, consumers are becoming more open to engaging with brands on a day-to-day basis, even if they aren’t specifically loyal to or purchasers of that particular business. Business owners and marketers are capitalizing on consumers’ desires for interaction by producing entertaining mobile apps. While being fun to use, informational or inspirational, a common characteristic of these apps is that they feature a strong call-to-action to persuade the user to purchase a product or in some way benefit the company in question.

What Types of Small Businesses are Making Apps?

A 2015 analysis of 40,402 apps created with an app development platform found that while “expected” businesses such as restaurants and gyms were highly prevalent, others such as golf courses, hotels, politicians and plumbers were also on the rise.

But why are these industries building more apps? Well, as the ease of building apps increases, so does the amount of potential functionality. One-off investments in systems such as in-app payments or bookings can save businesses money in the long-term as they reduce the amount of time their staff needs to spend fulfilling orders, taking payments or completing bookings.

For businesses that meet potential clients at various locations, the ability to show data or portfolio pieces offline using an app can make the difference between closing the sale and losing the prospect to a competitor.

How are Small Businesses Benefiting from Mobile Apps?

A recent survey showed that 62 percent of the businesses asked already had apps or were in the process of building one. Of those, 20 percent used their apps purely for branding purposes, 30 percent have revenue generating apps and 50 percent use them for support and engagement.

We spend 174 minutes on mobile devices every day. Mobile sales are estimated to have reached $74 billion in 2015 — up 32 percent from 2014. Thirty percent of all online purchases by Millennials are done on mobile devices. This jumps to 33 percent for moms and 43 percent for U.S. Hispanics.

However, apps aren’t just for commerce businesses. Push notifications can be used by any niche to put your brand name directly in front of the smartphone owner. Apps can be used for any type of activity: booking systems, file uploads, vouchers, newsletters, digital magazines, support, providing information, logging exercise or nutrition, showing videos and so much more.

Even businesses that you wouldn’t have thought would benefit from an app are proving critics wrong by producing innovative and engaging apps. For example, an independent pet food supplier could have an app that encourages users to upload comical photographs of their pets for a chance to win a prize. A product for new mothers could build a community of local mums and arrange meet-ups. A realtor could create an app that compares local house prices now to five years ago. The possibilities really are endless. All it takes is a little imagination to devise a system that consumers will enjoy engaging with.

What Does the Future Hold?

The projections around app driven revenue are staggering. Non-game app downloads are estimated to grow 23 percent in the next five years, exceeding $182 billion in 2020. Smartphone adoption in emerging markets should see mobile app store downloads more than double between 2015 and 2020.

Current data about mobile purchasing across the different age groups gives a strong indication that in 5-10 years, everyone is going to be a mobile shopper. Sixty-nine percent of millennials buy products on their smartphones, compared to 53 percent of Gen Xers and 16 percent of Boomers.

The increased market share and spending power this brings will make apps a necessity for B2C businesses in order to streamline a consumer’s journey from product browsing to payment.

The above statistics are also good news for digital agencies that offer mobile app development. As more businesses adopt apps, the demand for their services grows. The development of new ‘smart products’ such as virtual reality and wearable technology may compound this further as apps will need to be adapted to work on new online platforms.

Mobile Phone User Photo via Shutterstock

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Skype Announces Group Video Calling for Mobile

skype goup

The technology used by today’s workforce is evolving at a fast rate as companies integrate a range of information and communications technologies (ICT) into their operations. The integration and processes that are being implemented are a work in progress, but one trend that is seeing wide adoption across the board is collaborative solutions.

Skype is pushing that trend forward with its new Skype mobile group video call option that makes it possible for a group video call with 25 participants to take place on iOS and Android devices.

With unified communications, (UC), cloud services and IP telephony, today’s mobile devices have as many options as on premises systems. The move by Microsoft to make Skype available for groups on mobile devices extends more of those options to smartphones and tablets, because they are key to how employees collaborate once they leave the office.

For small businesses, having a free video chat solution from Skype, a proven video communications solution, is a win/win no matter how you look at it. According to the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Council (SBE Council), the share of U.S. businesses with less than 20 workers makes up 97.9 percent of the businesses in the country. This means all of these businesses will be able to use Skype mobile group video call with all their employees for free.

Skype mobile group video is delivered in full HD 1080p video with software that is able to optimize the features of the device you are using. Just like the desktop version and other fee based services, when you start talking, it puts you in the center, while the rest of the participants, all 24 of them, will be displayed in small tiles.  However, if you want to pin someone else to the center, the app gives you that choice.

Having HD video is fine, but Skype also uses its SILK Super Wide Band audio codec, which has been optimized by Intel, in its cloud conferencing stack to deliver crystal clear audio.

The invitation process has also been simplified. It is no longer necessary to have a Skype account to get an invitation. Skype is popular, but not everyone uses it, and now you can invite anybody to your conferences by sending them a link using email or messaging apps such as WhatsApp, Messenger, Twitter or Facebook. Once they get the link, they can join the conversation on a computer using Skype for Web.

While this version of Skype has enough features to carry out video communications, it is not the same as Skype for Business. And if your company needs more options, such as increased administrative roles, larger conference calls or meetings, and deeper integration with Microsoft applications, the businesses model is the right choice.

Microsoft wants to make the platform available globally by the end of March, but the U.S. and Western Europe will experience the mobile group chat feature first in a week’s time.

You can download the app from the App Store and Google Play for free.

The company also wants to remind you to have the latest version of Skype on your device to access all of these features.

Image: Skype

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41 Percent of Your Competitors Are Going Mobile – Here’s Why You Should Join the Crowd

41 Percent of Your Competitors Are Going Mobile - Here's Why Mobile Apps May Become the Next Source of Competitive Advantage

As more and more consumers begin to rely on their mobile devices for personal and business use, instead of a more traditional means like a desktop computer, the need for a mobile app is rapidly growing. With 2015 being dubbed the Year of the Mobile, small businesses without a mobile app planned for the future will continue to fall farther and farther behind.

There’s typically only one reason that is causing these businesses to continue to hold out: money.

The Cost of a Mobile App

About a year and a half ago, a survey of a number of leading mobile app developers was conducted to determine the average overall cost of building an iPhone/Android app, including the factors or variables that affect cost the most. This data collected by Clutch reported that the average cost of mobile app development was between $37,913 and $171,450. For a small business, even the lower end of this price range is a hefty price to swallow, especially without an immediate return on investment.

Lucky for these small businesses, this price range has drastically decreased. While the numbers may be out of date, the data is still helpful for identifying the features that carry the highest cost when developing a mobile app. Most often these factors were typically the infrastructure, features, and design of the app, while less expensive aspects were things like planning, deployment, and even testing.

Why Mobile Development is More Accessible Now

What many business owners fail to understand is the average price range for a mobile app is vastly out of date. Remember technology changes so fast that as soon as data is distributed, newer technology makes development more accessible — thus lowering cost. This is the case when it comes to developing an app for your business.

As mobile development has become more and more popular and important in today’s business world, the number of app builders and development teams has also grown. More app builders means more competitive pricing; there are more options to choose from, and some of these options are remarkably cheap compared to the prices we were seeing just a year or more ago.

Also on the rise is app development software. Some of these software or app development services are designed for a small business to make their own mobile app(s) at a very, very low process. As long as a business owner is willing to take the time and effort required, these hyper user-friendly tools can drastically reduce price.

It is almost identical to the trends we’ve already seen surrounding web development through its infancy and beyond. In the early stages of the internet, having a website became an undisputed necessity for businesses. Yet, this new development was costly. Web development was a costly investment because there were only a small number of developers and designers available. Now, there are a number of inexpensive services that allow anyone to make their own functioning website, with relative ease.

Future of Small Businesses and Mobile Development

With a mobile app becoming a much more reasonable investment for a small business to swallow, the future looks very positive. Recent data reported by Clutch, an independent research firm,  shows that roughly a quarter of small businesses already have a mobile app and another 27 percent of them have plans to enter the mobile world in the next year or so.

There is still a large percentage of companies that are unsure or even feel it is unlikely that they will have a mobile app in the future. Yet, as prices go down and accessibility goes up, the detractors of mobile development could quickly find themselves convinced that it is now a viable option.

Part of this conversion from uncertainty to convinced and planning is simple education. Some of these detractors may have been quoted for a mobile app a year ago or more and still believe it is out of their price range. Others do not believe mobile is for them because they fail to see how it will impact their business or what a mobile app could be used for, within their specific industry or business.

What Mobile Development Can be Used For

When you look at the wide range of mobile apps on the market, you can quickly see the number of different applications of mobile development. At the core of all business apps, there is one of a number of key drivers. These factors include accessibility/visibility, improving internal processes and productivity and enhancing the customer experience.

Accessibility and Visibility. As mobile search volumes continue to grow, adopting a mobile platform is more and more important to remain accessible and visible to your audiences. If they cannot find you or interact with your brand in the mobile environment, they may defect to a competitor that they can see on their device. Alternatively, attracting new customers without a mobile app could become harder and harder, as you are not only harder to find, but also without a key tool to keep you up to date and stay competitive in your industry.

Internal Processes and Productivity. While we often think of apps in terms of creating a new platform for our customers to engage with, mobile development is also worth exploring to improve internal processes and productivity. Many companies utilize desktop software to facilitate certain day-to-day business processes. A mobile-centric version of this software could further enhance these processes, in some companies. After all, mobile is, well, mobile, which means you can perform these processes on the go, instead of having the interruption of needing to sit down and use a desktop module.

Customer Experience. Without mobile, a customer’s relationship with your brand or company is interrupted the moment they walk out the door. By providing a mobile app experience, that relationship does not have to end. Your brand is more accessible, appears more personable and can stimulate more communication. Improving the customer experience ultimately drives increased brand loyalty and reduces churn.

All of these factors and others have direct relationships with profits. The more visible you are, the more likely that new and existing customers can find your business and make new and future purchasing decisions. Internal mobile apps to help processes boosts productivity and, perhaps more than ever, time is money. Lastly, a mobile app is key to enhancing the customer experience, which is becoming more and more important to audiences. It is no longer about offering the best product and quality, you also need to provide the best experience and mobile is one of the most important facets of that experience.

Conclusions

The mobile world took off like a rocket. In only a few short years it developed from a trend and a business luxury, to an accessible and vital dimension of the modern business. In the past, small businesses could not afford to invest in this rapidly growing, mobile world. However, as mobile has grown, so has the number of app developers and services available, which has thereby caused mobile adoption to become much less expensive.

Mobile Apps May Become the Next Source of Competitive Advantage

Even though only about a quarter of small businesses have entered the mobile app world, more expect to join in the next year plus. The remaining small businesses that believe it is unlikely for them to join the mobile game anytime soon, may be convinced otherwise as prices go down and accessibility goes up. Some may just require a little bit of education towards understanding how a mobile app can increase profits through improving visibility, productivity and the customer experience.

Smartphone Photo via Shutterstock

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7 Mobile Marketing Tips for Small Business

final shopping on phone

Did you know that over half of adults in the United States now utilize a smart phone to surf the Web? This information makes it even more urgent that you bring your business onto the mobile scene if you have not already.

Even if you are a brick and mortar store, it is imperative that you, at the minimum, make your website mobile friendly. Regardless of whether you sell t-shirts, computers or wedding planning services, if your potential customers cannot find you in a quick, mobile search, you will be easily passed over.

Use these mobile marketing tips for small business to market your business in a mobile world.

1. Ask Customers to Check-In and Reward Them

Encourage customers who use mobile services such as FourSquare, Google+, ShopKick or SpotIt to check-in to your location and offer a reward for them doing so, such as incentives, special discounts, prizes or recognition for a certain number of visits.

2. Social Media Marketing

Use your mobile phone to keep your Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn and Instagram profiles up-to-date and engaged.

3. Text Marketing

Create opt-in campaigns allowing your customers to sign up to receive special messages, alerts and rewards for joining your text campaign. Use this platform to allow customers to take a specific action (such as participating in a survey or visiting your website) in exchange for a reward (a free item or 10 percent discount). Redbox does this very well, regularly offering text campaign customers exclusive deals and free movie rentals.

4. QR Codes

Using QR codes (or Quick Response Codes) allows users to access a specific content area in order to obtain a special reward or to take advantage of a specific promotion. QR scanners can easily be downloaded for free onto any smartphone, and you can create your own QR codes easily using websites like www.qrstuff.com and add flyers, ads, business cards, etc.

5. Mobile Customer Service

Track orders, payments, shipping details and respond to questions quickly on the go using your smartphone. This is easy and convenient for you and your customers enjoy the faster responses from it.

6. Mobile Directories

Mobile directories have replaced the phone book yellow pages for the majority of people. If you want to ensure your business is found, register with several mobile directories such as Yelp, Google+Local, and YP (Yellow Pages). Include the name of your business, the product/service you provide, business hours, phone number, physical address and link to your website.

7. Create a Mobile App

Want to make your business even more easily accessible? If so, create an app.

You can easily create an app with websites like appypie.com or appmakr.com. Your app should provide unique content apart from your other digital presences, but still sell products, allow you to communicate with your customers, or whatever else you desire. Eighty-five percent of smartphone users surveyed feel more at ease navigating an app than a mobile version of your website.

In general, iOS apps generate nearly four times the revenue as opposed to Android apps, but it can be more difficult navigating the Apple app developing world.

The good news for your business is mobile marketing is not going away. In fact, it’s the future. What will evolve is how we use mobile marketing in the future to find information. Google has predicted this will be the year that more people will search for information using their mobile device than using a desktop computer.

In a world where the majority of smartphone users access their email using their mobile device, going mobile allows you to connect with and convert your users quickly and more efficiently.

Here is a little fact for you: 75 percent of smartphone users in the U.S. confess to taking their mobile phones with them to the bathroom. Gross, sure, but think about it. This is just another example of the prevalence of the mobile device. Smartphones are now how the majority of people pass time, locate information, find the time for the next movie, search for deals or find a plumber to fix their toilet. Our mobile devices have become an extension of us.

So if you have not dipped your finger into mobile marketing, use these mobile marketing tips for small business to get on the boat. If you’re already into mobile marketing, keep doing your research in order to keep your business on top of the newest trends.

Social networking and mobile marketing are constantly moving forward and evolving. If you do not stay on top of the times and stay tuned into what mobile marketing means, it’s too easy to get left behind.

Woman on Smartphone Photo via Shutterstock

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5 Reasons for Businesses to Go Mobile

mobile user

Step onto any subway car, go into any café and walk down any street. One thing you are sure to see is a smartphone being used.

Twenty years ago, we simply used phones for making calls or sending text messages. Now, we carry our whole world around in them.

From bank details to social media contacts, office apps to learning tools, if you can turn it into a digital platform, you’ll find it on a smartphone somewhere. For businesses, to go mobile is communication dynamite and it’s changed the way employers work, not only in the U.S. but around the world.

For businesses across all industries, mobile tech has provided new and innovative ways to engage with employees, boost productivity and cut the cost of operating in an increasingly competitive world. Companies are now less worried about how they can stay secure when their staff are using their own devices in work. They are ultimately more concerned how to leverage all this great technology so that it benefits staff and customers. 64 percent of Americans now own a smartphone with the number of users rising above 200 million across all states.

And it’s not just big organizations that can reap the benefits of mobile. For small businesses, the cost cutting advantages are pretty good and the opportunities to work smarter mean that there is more chance of success and grow in both the short and long term.

1. Better Employee Engagement

In many businesses over the last few years or so, the concept of better employee engagement has become a hot topic. Greater understanding of the needs and thought processes of those who work for you is paramount in getting the best out of them. Effective engagement also allows businesses to come up with diverse strategies that help maintain and nurture top talent.

The upcoming millennials are virtually inseparable from their smart devices and use them for everything from shopping to talking to their friends. Deeper employee engagement can also be achieved by updating and communicating more effectively, allowing individuals to work and innovate wherever they are in the world.

2. Increased Productivity

Having access to information in the blink of an eye, when it is really needed, helps to boost productivity and stay ahead of the game. Employees don’t have to wait around for calls or paperwork to come in. It is sent to their smartphone or tablet immediately and that means they can act and react more quickly.

Combine this with employers who are committed to working more flexibly in order to get the best out of staff and you have a recipe for tighter working and greater engagement. Because businesses can respond more quickly to customers as well, this means service and sales are improved across the board.

Networking and collaborative working can be undertaken anytime, anywhere. An employer can send a project update to an employee and he or she can receive it while travelling to work on the subway, return comments and get the conversation moving rather than wait to log on or attend a meeting once at work.

3. Affordable App Builders for Small Businesses

Businesses are not constrained by the need for big movers and shakers such as Microsoft to provide the relevant app for them. It’s now possible to have bespoke apps built for any business and at a cost that won’t drain dollars out of the budget using an affordable app builder. Employers can pick and choose what they need with little or no programming experience required and have the advantage of scalability which means they can start small and build their app to something more complex at a later date.

These kinds of apps can be easily rolled out to relevant staff and used to improve productivity in a variety of ways. This could be anything from a push notification about an important deadline or calendars for employees to something more complex such as ordering supplies and undertaking projects between several staff members.

Apps can also be built to define a business brand and be given out free to consumers. This works well for businesses such as restaurants or take away outfits who can give customers more opportunity and easy access to purchase from menus. It also means customers have a ready reminder of the company brand on their mobile device as well as easy access to the service or products it supplies.

4. On the Spot Learning

One area where employee engagement often falls down is providing staff with the right level of training and learning. Sophisticated educational apps can now be added to mobile phones that allow staff to learn at their own speed and in their own time.

Modules can be downloaded, progress tested, tracked and stored. You can also update employees with office regulations and strategies that enable you to keep everyone in the loop without the need for time consuming meetings. Research suggests that firms which promote a culture of learning in their office environment are 52 percent more productive. That can only lead to one thing: greater profits.

5. Out of Office Working

One of the major changes that new technology has brought about is how many employees no longer need to be tied to their desks. With cloud services and smart devices such as mobile phones and tablets, they can work anywhere in the world. This has led to many businesses, particularly small to medium sized ones, actually moving away from the traditional office environment. Employees can work from home, connect via the Internet, update on their smartphones, engage with each other through conferencing and video sites. Even if employees do need to come into the office every day, the likelihood is that they will check in at home or when they are off on vacation, sorting emails and responding to clients and other staff members while on the move.

Conclusion

Employers who engage with the latest technology and go mobile will no doubt have a head start on their competitors. The way we work is changing and keeping up with all the latest developments is vital if businesses want to grow and succeed. The mobile revolution may well be one of the most defining moments of the next twenty to thirty years.

Mobile Photo via Shutterstock

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9 Questions to Ask When Building a Mobile App

mobile phone users

“The next big thing” is a phrase that gets tossed around often. Entrepreneurs dream of creating it but often don’t know where to look, so they head down a long, bumpy road that sucks their wallet and their inspiration dry. Of course, failure nearly always precedes success, but it doesn’t hurt to avoid failure when you can.

If you’re embarking on a new mobile app idea, first consider whether you’re a results-oriented or a cause-oriented person. This will help you perfect your approach and, better yet, may prevent you from investing in an idea that’s likely to flop. The cause-method-results path tends to be best; profits are just a result — they may drive entrepreneurship but they’re not something to build off of, so consider your cause first and foremost. Whatever you create must have demand and whatever has demand serves a purpose for its customers.

So how do you identify the purpose of your next mobile app?

1. Is it a Need or a Want?

Imagine you’re an average smartphone user and someone tells you about this app. Would it excite you? Would you want it? Would other people want it? Ideally, they’ll need it, but the next best option is that they simply want it.

So how can you create a want? Look around you. This era is all about the translation of life into digitized form. It’s all about information that makes people’s lives easier. Urbanspoon, Foodspotting, and Yelp do just that. They speed up and simplify your life. How will your app make its users’ lives simpler and speedier?

2. Is it Offering Something that Doesn’t Already Exist?

That’s exactly what Mark Zuckerberg asked the Winklevoss brothers when they told him about the idea of Harvard Connection, and they certainly had an answer. If your basic idea resembles something that’s already out there, you need to be confident your app will offer something its competitor doesn’t. Do you think your interface will blow it out of the water? Is the other app particularly vulnerable in a crucial department, like connectivity or functionality? Can you take advantage of that?

3. How Soon Can You Launch?

Say your app idea is amazing — it’s something people would absolutely love and it’s completely unique. Now what? The biggest mistake you can make is to sit on it. There’s one thing Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, and Elon Musk would all agree on: you must rush to the market to launch your idea or someone else will. It’s a competitive world. Everyone’s trying to innovate. So the sooner you dream it, the sooner you must build it, because someone else is bound to dream and build the same thing tomorrow or the day after.

4. How Will You Build It?

That brings us to the question of complexity. Can you design and develop this app yourself? If not, can you get someone else to do it? And if you get someone else to do it for you, how much can you pay them? Would you look to a simple app creation platform that lets you build and host the app easily or go to a team of custom developers? And what’s the faster approach?

5. Is This the Best You Can Do?

If you’re going to sell something, better to sell it to a hundred people than to ten. How many platforms does your app cater to? An Android app is better than a Galaxy-specific app, so try to maximize your audience as much as possible; don’t make the classic mistake of approaching only a handful. Most of the time, increasing your potential users just takes one simple addition but makes a huge difference in the long run.

6. Can You Survive the Market?

It’s time to consider your competition and your marketing strategy. The idea is there. You can build and launch it soon. Now ask yourself if you have the money and the drive to compete. When you launch a product that hits your rivals where they’re vulnerable, the bigger companies you’re hurting will wage war, rapidly improving their product to maintain their top spot. That’s why it’s paramount to consider how soon you can make the name of your product echo in the market. Can you hire marketing agencies? If you don’t have the money, do you have investors who can do it for you?

7. People Love Your Product Today. Will They Love it Tomorrow?

Your app’s ability to inspire return visits is what will help it dominate the market. Does it hold long-term value for its users? It needs to. Does it encourage consumer loyalty? That’s a must. It should be habit-forming, engrained so much into the mobile lives of your users that they wouldn’t consider switching to a competitor.

8. How Will You Get Results?

Profits require commercialization — particularly ad-hosting. Businesses are biting at the bit to advertise in apps that overlap with their target market, and creating digital ads is far cheaper than print. Whether you use an ad service like Doubleclick or AdMob or go with a custom solution, make sure your ads don’t detract from the user experience. Of course, charging for downloads is another option, but if you’re aiming to mass-distribute it’s best to keep it free.

9. Does Anything Need to be Eliminated?

The secret to making highly usable apps isn’t adding more and more stuff but eliminating as much as possible. You’re probably focused on packing in features now, but your app likely contains some redundancy already. Superfluous features increase your file size and suck up device memory — not a great thing from the user’s perspective. So simplify it.

Conclusion

Approach your next idea with purpose and foresight. The next big thing in mobile is out there, but method and strategy are crucial to its success. Just make sure you get there first.

Phone Photo via Shutterstock

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Is the Mobile App Already Dead? comScore Says We’re Nearing “Peak App” (INFOGRAPHIC)

Is the Mobile App Market Already Dead? comScore Says We’re Nearing “Peak App” Moment

Barring Facebook, Messenger, Instagram and other hugely successful names, many apps are actually rarely used or even downloaded by mobile device owners. Yet many businesses spend considerable time and resources creating apps to engage customers.

A new study from comScore now says we’re nearing the “Peak App” moment, which suggests businesses should revisit their mobile app strategy.

Highlights of the comScore Report

Astonishingly, the comScore (NASDAQ:SCOR) study reveals 49 percent of smartphone users do not download any apps per month. About 24 percent of users install one or two apps over the same period.

Those who install more than five apps a month are more likely to be males aged between 18 and 44 years old, and they live in cities such as Los Angeles, Miami, San Francisco and Houston.

Interestingly, the comScore report isn’t the only recent study to highlight the declining popularity of mobile apps. Another study by app tracker SensorTower has also revealed an average 20 percent drop in downloads in the U.S.

What This Change in the Mobile App Market Means for Your Business

Declining popularity of mobile apps doesn’t come as a surprise. Think about it. How many apps do you install and actually use on your mobile device?

It’s also a choice that many users are making today because installing too many apps is inconvenient and unnecessary. So if you want to go ahead and build an app, you have to give your customers a very good reason to install it.

Vik Patel, CEO of Detroit-based Future Hosting says, “If we were to ask users to install an app, there would have to be a very good reason. Good reasons include a genuine need for access to on-device features like the camera or accelerometer, or a requirement for graphical capabilities available only to native applications.”

Building an app requires both time and money. It’s therefore important for you to explore all options before making a decision. Does your business really need an app? Is it enough for you to just optimize your website for mobile? Can you instead focus more on engaging customers on social media?

These are some questions that you must answer before making  a decision to invest in creating a mobile app.

At the same time, a mobile app can work really well for your business if you have the right strategy in place. If you are a small store owner, for instance, you can leverage your mobile app to implement loyalty programs or push notifications to drive footfalls.

“The total number of people using your apps and the time they are spending on average, those two combined is how you should measure the potential of an app to generate a lot of revenue down the line,” advises Fabien Pierre-Nicolas, VP of marketing at app analytics firm App Annie.

See more stats on apps from the coomScore report in the infographic below:

Is the Mobile App Market Already Dead? comScore Says We’re Nearing “Peak App” Moment
Download Report and Infographic

Image: comScore

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